Candidates for Summit County Council on next month's ballot met the public and spoke on various topics at two well-attended events in early October. All voters will choose two at-large candidates and some voters will choose a district representative.
The Stow group, Citizens for NonPartisan Politics, sponsored a Candidates Night Oct. 4 at the VFW/Acker-Moore Memorial Post 175 in Stow. The League of Women Voters of the Akron Area, Hudson and Tallmadge presented a Candidates Forum for Summit County on Oct. 6 at the Cuyahoga Falls High School.
For Summit County Council-at-large, Chris Parker (R) of Akron will face incumbent Elizabeth M. Walters (D) of Akron. They attended both events.
Parker is running for political office for the first time. He is an attorney and has lived in Akron for 25 years.
He said the county needs collaborative efforts to provide more beds and treatment for the opiate crisis.
As a lawyer, Parker said he has seen the heroin epidemic up front.
"I've seen the tragedy of addiction and the families it ruins," Parker said. "Treatment is key."
For economic development, Akron needs to focus equally on the suburbs in areas that can build industry, Parker said.
"Collaborate with other counties and bring new business in the area and help young people here," Parker said. "The county is moving forward and we need to build on the momentum."
Walters replaced Sandra Kurt, who took over the position of Summit County Clerk of Courts, on Council and has been learning the job the past eight months.
"I listen and learn how to improve my community," Walters said.
Her biggest concern is opiates in Summit County.
"The opiate epidemic doesn't discriminate on borders, schools or economy," Walters said. "We need innovative ways to fight and continue to do more work with the community services that fight on the line."
She credits Girl Scouts for her start in public service and wants the government to work for residents.
The county has worked with communities to help with funding for First & Main in Hudson, projects in Copley and Tallmadge and Stark State University coming to Akron, Walters said.
For Summit County Council-at-large incumbent Clair E. Dickinson (D) of Akron will face Alex Pavloff (R) of Akron. Both attended each event.
Dickinson said he was appointed in August and is the newest member of Summit County Council but served twice before from 1989 to 1993 and 2003 to 2007.
"I thought I had something to offer Council at this time," Dickinson said.
He said with five new members in 2016, his prior experience allows him to remember decisions made in the past.
Dickinson said many children are in foster care because of the opiate epidemic and many crimes are committed because of it.
"It's a multi-faceted problem, and we do what we can to address the problem," Dickinson said.
He said the county needs to attract jobs and support the University of Akron to keep people in college.
Pavloff is running for the first time and is studying for his master's degree at the University of Akron on politics and data analytics, which allows him to "pull out a special story from large data."
He said he wants to show young people they can become involved in county government.
Pavloff said the opiate epidemic is a complicated issue.
"I'm in academia. I want to understand as much as possible and talk with those touched by the epidemic," Pavloff said.
He said recovering addicts need more help instead of being left on their own to stay drug free.
Only candidates for District 3 appeared at the Stow and Cuyahoga Falls event.
For Summit County Council District #3, incumbent Gloria J. Rodgers (R) of Stow will face David Worhatch (D) of Hudson. District 3 includes the cities of Hudson and Stow and the village of Silver Lake and part of Cuyahoga Falls. Rodgers attended both events. Worhatch attended the Stow event.
Worhatch said he has been a lawyer for 37 years, with 28 years of service in Hudson and Stow.
"A trial lawyer has to be a quick study and look out for clients," Worhatch said. "I have the interest of the taxpayers ranked above special interest or party. I don't think Summit County should be under represented any longer."
He said stormwater was inter-related, and they would have to craft a solution county-wide.
Worhatch said as a Democrat he would have the ear of the majority and bring issues to Summit County.
Rodgers said she was the only Republican on Summit County Council.
"I bring a different voice," Rodgers said. "I do my homework. I have a great deal of knowledge about what is going on in our county."
She named opiates and stormwater as main issues for Summit County and uses her medical and business background to find solutions.
"The opiate epidemic is driving the ER, first responders and facilities," she said.
She said jobs and family services needs to start in the schools and partner with the Akron Public Schools.
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