December 19, 2014

Elyria
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LORAIN — COUNCIL AT LARGE

Lorain residents are being asked to vote for three at-large representatives for Lorain Council. There are five candidates on the ballot. Incumbent Anne Molnar, D-at large, declined to be interviewed for this article.

What are the biggest issues facing the city?

Jones: I believe a big issue facing Lorain is our lack of a job base and a big issue for Lorain Schools is that they are at the bottom of school system ratings in Ohio.
Stipe: Spending residents’ money is the root of our problems. The CRA debacle has cost over a million dollars and has offered nothing but closed-door meetings. We have six departments that cut grass and more backhoes than we have operators, which shows that we need to work smart. Forming a combined group of laborers and equipment that each department can pull from will save $3.4 million. We have shelves full of expensive studies that we lack the ability to implement or wish to ignore. In five years, we should not ask for a renewal of the “temporary” income tax. And that is just the start.
Given: The biggest issue facing our city is the loss of revenue to fund day-to-day operations. This, along with the loss of jobs in the region to employ our citizens, has caused catastrophic problems. Everything else we encounter could be readily addressed if these two things could be improved upon.
Fallis: The single most important issue facing Lorain is the lack of employment. Recent unemployment rates for Lorain have exceeded 12 percent while the county’s unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent. The city of Lorain is one of the top 50 cities in the nation with the highest poverty rate, ranked 48th with a poverty rate of 25.4 percent.

How do you plan to address them?

Jones: As a councilperson, I will focus on getting the Pellet Terminal generating income for Lorain and this will help local businesses survive. As a councilperson I will roll out the red carpet to any business that wants to make Lorain their home, no matter what their size. The schools, with their ratings in the toilet, I believe drastic scores call for drastic measures. I have heard of programs where they separated males and females from the seventh grade on and the results were rewarding. If it works, continue it on. If this does not make a difference, cancel it after the first year.
Stipe: I understand the city cannot spend a dollar without taking it from you first. Political discussion until now has been about whether you are left or right, liberal or conservative. Instead of arguing about what parts of your life you want to be controlled by government, I believe that less government and lower taxes are what Lorain wants and needs. The city offers services the residents require. Safety and infrastructure top that list. Fire and police need significantly more funding, and a public plan must be made for road repair.
Given: These issues can be addressed with an aggressive response to recruit and retain businesses for our city. In 2009, I spearheaded an effort to create a fund via ordinance making it mandatory that the city set aside a certain amount of dollars every year that can only be used to help businesses either move into Lorain or stay and grow in Lorain. Responsibility rests solely on all of Lorain’s shoulders, and we must accept this fact and change our mode of operation. We must do better with the tax dollars presented to us from all sources.
Fallis: Economic development will solve Lorain’s most important needs. Increased employment will provide additional revenue for our city to provide for public safety and services plus additional revenue for our schools. I have been working with the city, Lorain Port Authority, county, state and federal officials, businesses and unions to establish an international sea port in Lorain where goods and agriculture products can be exported and imported. Lorain’s economic assets include our citizens, land, access to international and domestic markets, and our railroads and highways. We need to market Lorain to attract business. We must support infrastructure improvements and neighborhood revitalization programs that provide the foundation for economic development.

What makes you best suited for the job?

Jones: Being an independent councilman will make the biggest difference between myself and the other candidates. I will not be taking marching orders from party bosses and will always try to do what’s best for Lorain taxpayers. The taxpayers’ opinion will always be very important to me, and I will take their concerns to the Council floor.
Stipe: Two of the current members have been entrenched on Council and should be ashamed of the results of their many years. We can’t use the same thinking to solve problems that got us into trouble in the first place. If you have not seen a better Lorain in that time, then it is imperative that you vote for a new Council. I have spent years not only attending Council and committee meetings, but working with legislators to improve Lorain. I am intimately involved and knowledgeable on all the issues, so I am ready to serve as a full- time councilman on day one.
Given: I’m qualified via my experience both in the private sector and in government. The experience of managing people and budgets in the private sector shows I know what it takes to survive and flourish. This business viewpoint must present itself across all of city government. When times are hard, cuts are made and employees take ownership in changing things or risk losing their livelihoods. This same philosophy must be carried out in local government. I have shown the people that I can carry out the fight for change, the fight for a balanced budget and the fight to hold everyone in city government fiscally accountable.
Fallis: I believe that past performance is a good indicator of future performance. During my time in business, I have had the opportunity of working in a team environment, taking solid ideas and making them a reality. I have learned the value of accepting the wisdom of a multitude of counselors to take a vision, thoroughly research that vision, and provide proper planning, financing and implementation to make the vision become a reality. I wish to continue to work with our local labor and business communities, our national, state and local elected officials to create a solid economic base in our community to create prosperity for our citizens once again.

Mitchell Fallis
Age:
54
Party: Democrat
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, master’s degree in business administration from Baldwin-Wallace College; Ohio-licensed certified public accountant for 24 years
Family: Divorced
Job history: Lorain County Community College, accounting instructor; AmTrust Bank, corporate financial accountant; Lorain National Bank, financial accountant followed by chief accounting officer and treasurer, current at-large representative.

Keith Jones
Age:
54
Party: Independent
Education: Lorain High School
Family: Married, 2 children, 2 grandchildren
Job history: Business owner, retired

Daniel Given
Age:
46
Party: Democrat
Education: Bachelor of science degree from Bowling Green State University
Family: Married with 3 children
Job history: Director of purchasing, estimating and design with Oster Homes; purchasing manager at Phoenix Products in Avon Lake; buyer at Parker Hannifin Airborne Division, Elyria; and served formerly as a 7th Ward and 8th Ward councilman before being elected as an at-large representative.

Sean Stipe
Age:
37
Party: Libertarian
Education: LCCC/Ohio University, bachelor’s degree, technical theater and film with additional focus on education and sociology
Family: Did not answer
Job history: Design and technical direction at all the theaters in the Cleveland area; operated a successful mid-sized concert club in Cleveland; currently a self-employed marketing consultant and graphic designer
Website: www.seanstipe.com