What are the biggest issues facing the city?
Rutherford: Job creation, safety and increasing the sense of community are the biggest issues facing our city today. Times are hard here in Elyria. We need new ideas and a new set of eyes on the issues that are facing us today.
Craig: Insufficient communications with the residents — the elected officials are out of touch with their constituents. Lack of economic development.
How do you plan to address them?
Rutherford: As for the issue of job creation, when the 2015 project came about, an idea came out of it called the small business incubator. The idea has so far continued to sit on that same piece of paper for the past two years. I want to start the small business incubator within the first six months of my first term. A small business incubator is a collection of resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs get on their way of starting a small business right here in Elyria. We have all the resources necessary to start this process, between the economic development director in City Hall, Main Street Elyria and the Entrepreneurial building at LCCC. Elyria should and will be at the forefront of green jobs, the latest technology front, which is currently being debated in other cities in Lorain County. We need to bring technology like this to Elyria. Increasing the income tax base brought by businesses will lessen the tax burden on our citizens.
The issue of community will be handled with a new look. I will organize, pay and encourage other city leaders to contribute to both a Small Business Appreciation Day and a Residential Appreciation Day. These events will be in a festival-like setting, where city leaders can show both the residents and small businesses that Elyria cares about them and wants businesses to move here and stay here. Increasing the sense of community, through active block watches, could also help reduce crime within the city.
On the matter of safety, as the small business incubator and other economic development improves, funds will be available to invest into our safety forces by means of training programs and new equipment for our forces. We are the county seat here in Lorain County, and we need to set the standard for other cities around by means of equipment and training. As for now, I will demand accountability and fiscal responsibility from all departments to ensure that all police and fire can be where they are needed most, which is on the front lines ready to help the residents.
Craig: I plan to continue the 4th Ward Information Web Site, maintain availability through e-mail, telephone and regular mail, host the 4th Ward Town Hall meetings on a semi-annual basis and followup on my referral to televise Council meetings.
It’s time to continue to press the administration to establish goals for the economic development director and the city in general; continue to work with LCCA, Team Lorain County and the Lorain County Economic Development teams to find ways to improve the marketing of our city and to attract new business; to support changes in the Design Review process so that businesses will be more likely to come to Elyria with fewer subjective obstacles to overcome; to interface with businesses in my ward to improve delivery of their products and services to other city residents.
What makes you best suited for the job?
Rutherford: I have a great respect and admiration for our city. I moved to Elyria years ago because I loved coming here when I was growing up. Now as an adult, my wife Sandra and I are making Elyria our home and plan to soon raise a family here, and I want nothing but the best for my friends and neighbors here. I am a block watch captain for the Stoney Brook Block Watch and I run and operate a food drive that benefits the Salvation Army called the City Wide Food Drive. I have also in the past organized community awareness events like Take Back Elyria, which is a health and safety event where many different groups came together to train and educate residents on the best ways to protect themselves. Through these efforts in the past and my continued efforts in the future, I am sure that residents will vote for a fresh face and fresh ideas.
Craig: I solve problems for a living and have the professional training to do so. I talk with my residents constantly and I understand their problems and concerns because I have them, too. I am raising a family in Elyria and I understand what it means to sacrifice to make things better for other people. I bring experienced leadership to my position on City Council as a veteran, attorney, incumbent councilman, leader at my church and as a father.
Mark F. Craig
Education: Juris doctorate, University of Akron School of Law; bachelor’s of arts in English, Charleston Southern University
Family: Wife, Kristen, and five children, Sara, 18, Matt, 17, Kathryn, 15, Hope, 6, and Brendan, 3
Job history: U.S. Navy, ET1/SS nuclear reactor operator on fast-attack submarine USS San Juan from 1990 to 1998; regional customer service manager at AGA Gas from 1998 to 2002; attorney from 2002 to present; current 4th Ward councilman
Web site: www.markfcraig.com
Education: Attending Lorain County Community College; pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work
Family: Wife, Sandra, couple has two dogs
Job history: Works in retail management and sales
Web site: www.brandonrutherford.com