There are six candidates vying for three at-large seats on North Ridgeville City Council.
What are the challenges or issues facing the city?
Butkowski: The biggest challenge facing the city is the loss of revenue due to the reduction of income tax and property tax collections. I am concerned about the reduction of property values for the 2010 tax year. There has also been a downturn in building permit fees. As a result, we will have a reduced amount of funds to operate with for 2010.
Corcoran: Roads and finances.
Johnson: The worldwide financial situation is certainly a prime concern. We must maintain vital city services while we redouble efforts to improve the community, including the widening of Center Ridge Road, Lear-Nagle Road, and improvement of our sanitary, water and storm systems while holding the line on costs to residents when they can least afford it.
McLaughlin: There are numerous challenges facing our city: traffic problems with the growth of our community, the need for widening Center Ridge Road, unbalanced tax structure between businesses and residential areas and need for more safety forces are just a few. The greatest challenge is financial. During these tough economic times, the city needs to be extra careful with spending taxpayers’ money. This is something we have done exceptionally well during my first term and need to continue to do. The last thing residents need at this time is government dipping its hands into their pockets. They are doing with less and I believe as leaders we should as well.
Whitlock: There are glaring issues in this city. Some that have been around for decades and some have presented themselves during these hard economic times. All of them are challenges in one way or another. The important thing is how you inform the public of the conclusions that have been made or why the issue is in limbo. It is imperative to keep people informed and listen to their opinion. Many cities’ issues are never solved. The public is never made aware of many issues as they are worked on by internal committees. To pinpoint a handful of issues would paint a picture of being naive.
Winrod: Tax revenues from businesses are declining, and this trend must be reversed through prudent and well-organized planning. The increasing population is placing burdens on city services, including safety forces. Resources will need to be allocated to cope with the housing growth. Future housing growth must be orderly and controlled. If elected to City Council, I will advocate for the implement the goals of the 2009 Master Plan. Those goals include avoiding bedroom community status, protecting home values and business expansion, attraction and retention.
How do you plan to address them?
Butkowski: With the reduction of funds because of the recession, the only option is to adjust spending. The new contracts with city workers will be an overwhelming help because they have chosen to take a zero percent increase in wages. Attracting new successful business is the best thing for increasing the city’s income. We must get involved with area organizations, working with new business and industry. Business trade magazines spotlight growing manufacturers who need more space, and the administration should contact them to promote the city and our assets. We also have to work with local businesses that need to expand.
Corcoran: Government’s primary concern is to provide the community with basic services, including good, safe roads. Several roadways need immediate attention, such as Lear-Nagle and Chestnut Ridge. Funding for all projects including roadway repairs is an issue. We have limited resources, which limits the number of projects we can undertake each year. Our finances will be under pressure this year due to economic conditions surrounding us. We must work together to save money where we can, and encourage new businesses to locate to our city to provide jobs and new sources of revenue.
Johnson: Our residential growth certainly helps fund improvements but the key is commercial and industrial growth. We must work together with City Council, the administration, Chamber of Commerce and residents to welcome those who wish to invest in our community, hire our residents and provide local goods and services. We must also work hard to keep vital city services at the level our residents expect. It’s going to be a challenge during these economic times.
McLaughlin: Attending city appropriation meetings is the first step. Listening to each department and their needs is very important. After listening to all departments, common sense must prevail and smart choices must be made. Prioritizing is a must. I will continue to ask tough questions and use common sense in regards to our budget and how our money is spent. Once our economy improves and city finances are on stable ground, we can start looking at investing wisely in our community. I will continue to support the administration’s efforts with widening Center Ridge Road as well as continue supporting new businesses for our community.
Whitlock: The change comes with the breaking of the “yes man” vote hidden under the guise of “It’s good for the city,” which in turn will enhance the methods in which we actually determine what truly is good for the city. Our residential growth far exceeds our business and commercial growth, which doesn’t help residents’ tax burden, and puts far too much strain on our services and safety. We need to control residential growth and bump up commercial growth. Explore, once again, how to ease traffic woes and assist our educational facilities.
Winrod: I will advocate for the creation of a Council for Economic Development Committee that will focus on bringing in new businesses, as well as working with existing businesses. I will make it a top priority to ensure that safety forces have adequate resources to protect the citizens. Two new fire stations and a new police station will ultimately need to be built to cope with the increasing population. Our safety forces are doing outstanding work and are responsible stewards of the resources that have been provided. The growing population will require the allocation of additional resources.
What makes you best suited for the job?
Butkowski: My 12 years’ experience as a councilwoman and knowledge of the community makes me best suited for continuing on the job. An eight-year member of the Finance Committee, I understand how the city works and where there is need for money. It will be necessary next year to make cuts. Experience with the city’s operation will help allocate money in the most efficient way. When a resident calls for help, I am able to help solve it in the best possible way. It is a good feeling to help someone who has nowhere else to turn.
Corcoran: As an at-large Council member, I am intimately involved in the issues our community is facing. My involvement with the schools, library, community, sports, business and charitable organizations gives me a well-rounded view of their issues and how they affect our community as a whole. As a business owner, I gather facts before making a decision. This varied perspective allows me to consider viewpoints that others may not have even considered. As a leader in our community, I have demonstrated an ability to work with people with diverse backgrounds, forge consensus and achieve positive results.
Johnson: I have a well-rounded background, including 10 years on past City Councils and 12 years working with citizens in the municipal court system. I know how city government works and, more importantly, I know how to make it work for citizens when they encounter a problem. I’m accessible, responsive and with my pending retirement, I can devote as much time to the position as needed.
McLaughlin: I have been working for the residents for the last two years as their Council at-large representative, so this gives me a record to run on as well as the experience needed to continue the job I was elected to do. A lifelong resident, I will continue to live here as I raise my four children. Caring for my hometown makes me work hard to ensure it is a special place for those who choose to make North Ridgeville their home. I take my Council job seriously and base my decisions on how the votes I take today will affect tomorrow’s North Ridgeville.
Whitlock: Some positive, some negative, but altogether making this a great community to live in and raise a family. It’s more personal for me to take an active hand to guide future growth for generations to come. No hidden agenda, no inside track to personal gain. Only the bare essentials of what a city official should be. A personable, caring individual that listens to the people and has only their and the city’s best interest at heart without a bias to an employer, friend, co-worker or family member and not take for granted the duties I am responsible for.
Winrod: As the co-owner of two small businesses in North Ridgeville, I know the value of open and honest communication. Integrity, dedication and a willingness to serve others are key ingredients to successful leadership. I believe the input and support of the citizenry is vital in public planning, and I will make sure that the people of North Ridgeville are heard from and kept informed as our city continues to grow.
Bernadine Rita Butkowski
Education: Graduate of North Ridgeville High School, attended LCCC
Family: Husband John and 2 adult children, Pamela and Bob
Job history: Employed at Luxaire, Western Automatic, County Prosecutor’s Office, Sam’s Club, and Trader Joe’s. Also, current at-large representative who also serves as Council president.
Web site: www.butkowskiforcouncil.com
Education: Cleveland Marshall College of Law, University of Scranton for a bachelor’s of science in finance.
Family: Wife Lauren, Sons Nolan and Cole and daughter Maddyn
Job history: Attorney-Bob Schmitt Homes Inc.; owner-Corcoran & Associates, Co. LPA and current at-large representative
Web site: www.electkevinocorcoran.com
Education: High school graduate, have attended Lorain County Community College for course work
Family: Husband Denny, married 36 years; 3 grown children; 8 grandchildren, all North Ridgeville residents
Job history: Former area Realtor, Elyria Municipal Court bailiff for 12 years,
10 years on North Ridgeville Council, president of Council, chair of finance, utilities and member of most other committees
Web site: www.roseannejohnson.com
Ray E. McLaughlin III
Education: 1988 Graduate of North Ridgeville High, 1989 millwright apprenticeship, 1990-91 U.S. Army Basic and Nuclear Biological Chemical training, 1991 Airborne school, 1993 Fayetteville Tech Community College, small engines repair, 1994 Primary Leadership
Family: Wife of 15 years, Kimberly-Ann; sons Ray IV, 17, Kyle, 11, Aiden, 6, Brendan, 6
Job history: Four years North Ridgeville High School football coach, 19 years with Millwrights Piledrivers Local Union 1871 and currently serving as an at-large Council representative
Web site: www.mclaughlin.nrdems.com
Michael S. Whitlock
Education: North Ridgeville High School graduate; Hocking College
Family: Barbara, wife of 19 years; daughters Fallon, 15, and Kieren, 10; son Tristen, 13
Job history: Assistant supervisor at a Fortune 500 distribution center
Education: Cleveland State University 1980-1985
Job history: Co-owner of two small businesses in North Ridgeville