October 24, 2014

Elyria
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3 Lorain Dems, Elyria mayor participate in forum

ELYRIA — The three Democratic mayoral candidates from Lorain and Elyria Mayor Bill Grace spoke at a candidates forum at the Ramada Inn in Elyria on Tuesday.

Grace’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Holly Brinda, could not attend the forum, hosted by the Lake Erie Landlord’s Association, due to a previous commitment but sent her daughter, Marielle Brinda, to tell the association’s members how to reach her.

After each candidate made a five-minute introduction, the association opened the floor to questions from its membership. The candidates fielded questions on Section 8 housing, community development funds, street projects and other topics.

When asked if they supported Section 8 housing — federally funding housing for qualified low-income renters — all the candidates gave similar answers.

“We need to keep it at the level it’s at and attract jobs to our city,” Lorain Councilman-at-large and mayoral candidate Mitch Fallis responded.

Political newcomer and mayoral candidate Chase Ritenauer also said that too much Section 8 housing was not beneficial for the city.

“I think any community needs to have a blend … but, at the end of the day, Lorain does have a disproportionate amount of Section 8 housing,” Ritenauer said.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko said that while the city does have a large amount of subsidized housing, he has worked to dispel the myths and stereotypes associated with it because “it is some of the better housing” in the city.

Elyria Mayor Bill Grace cautioned that he did not want to see Section 8 housing lead to a “spiraling down” trend in his city’s housing stock.

“We need to be a better-quality community,” Grace said.

Another participant asked the Lorain candidates about the recent ordinances introduced to City Council that would help pay the security deposit or first month’s rent for individuals with jobs but who may be “cash poor.” The programs — the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the Security Deposit Assistance Program — both would receive $75,000 through the HUD Home grant the city has received, city documents show.

Fallis voted against the ordinance on Monday and used an analogy to explain his views.

“If I am a farmer and I have a harvest in the fall and I use all my seed, I won’t have any to plant in the spring,” Fallis said, explaining he would like to see the Home funds used to rehabilitate existing homes or be used as a loan that would bring money back to the city.

Ritenauer believed the programs had potential to help renters.

“This makes sense, this is so important in terms of the community … the government ought to help those who want to help themselves,” Ritenaurer said.

Krasienko agreed with Ritenauer and said his administration supported the programs.

“We think this is a quality program to help keep people inside homes,” Krasienko said.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at 329-7144 or kbushinski@chroniclet.com.