Meet the Green City Council At-Large candidates

The May 7 primary will narrow the race from eight candidates to six.

RICHARD BRANDENBURG

How long have you lived in Green

Since 2009

Involvement in Green

For the past 10 years, my kids have been involved in youth sports in the city of Green and my wife and I have been right there with them. They played soccer, football, cheer, basketball and we served as volunteers in a number of these organizations. It was through these sport teams that we met many of the wonderful residents of Green that we call friends.

Over the years, I have also become active in a number of other volunteer organizations using my professional skills. For over 10 years now, I have been a vice-chair on two committees for a nationally recognized finance organization. I have also served as Chair on the Finance Committee at my home church, as Finance Manager for Toastmasters District 10 serving 2,500 members in NE Ohio and as Goodyear’s Finance advisor for the United Way fundraising team.

In Green, I co-founded Thursday Night Toastmasters (TNT) – a lively and exciting group that continues to meet every Thursday evening at 7 pm at the Akron General Campus. I was also a member of the inaugural Community Leadership Institute, and, when this group concluded, I obtained appointment from Mayor Neugebauer to the City of Green’s Audit Committee.

Why are you running

I am a CPA and Finance Professional that has been trusted by families, nonprofits and businesses for more than 20 years, and I am the only candidate running for City Council that is a career finance professional. Finance professionals have the skills and experience that are essential to all organizations. The city of Green needs these skill sets on council, and I have both the time and desire to serve residents and help the city of Green prosper.

As a CPA, I also bring to the table the independence and objectivity that are greatly needed while our city heals from the damage done by the NEXUS Pipeline. As a CPA, I am subject to very high standards of conduct that I have practiced throughout my career. I also work for a company outside of the city, and I have no private enterprises that will benefit as a result of my service on council.

One area to focus on

Over the last 10 years, the city of Green’s revenues have grown, and, including the NEXUS settlement, was nearly $50M in 2018. A city of Green’s size needs a finance professional on City Council because it is council’s job to ensure that city funds are used effectively to achieve city objectives. Throughout my career, I have helped businesses to spend funds effectively, minimize costs and keep others true to their word. When elected, I will focus on helping our city administrators provide residents the high quality, safe and prosperous city that they love all while living within our means and reducing debt.

I will also emphasize using low cost or no cost services whenever possible to help our residents. For example, we need to fully support our community partners like Green Good Neighbors, the various youth sports associations and the many other non-profit organizations. These partners provide services to our city much more effectively than the city could because providing these services is what they do. They work in areas of strength and with focus to achieve their objectives.

CLARK ANTHONY DEVITIS

How long have you lived in Green

Entire life

Involvement in Green

None

Why are you running

As a lifelong resident of this community, it has been an amazing privilege to watch the city grow and evolve. I would be honored to take part in Green’s future growth by representing the residents of our city as an at-large councilman.

One area to focus on

I would like to focus on a balanced approach to growth in the city without losing focus on what makes Green a great community: parks, amenities, safety services and our excellent school system. I want to maintain open communication and a culture of transparency between myself and the community that I represent.

STEPHEN DYER

How long have you lived in Green

Melissa and I chose to make Green our home in 2006 because we wanted our sons, Carson and Logan to grow up in a community that values family.

Involvement in Green

I am currently on City Council. I have also served in various capacities with PTAs, my neighborhood Homeowners Association, Cub Scouts, coached both of my sons’ baseball teams and am a member at Queen of Heaven. My wife of 20 years, Melissa, is also on the board of the Green Schools Foundation and has also been involved in PTA.

Why are you running

I believe Green is a wonderful place to live and we have amazing potential to grow into an even better community. I believe that elected officials should work to create an effective and efficient government for those they represent. And I have spent the last four years doing exactly that.

One area to focus on

I would like to focus on responsibly investing in our community while maintaining our community’s financial strength. I co-sponsored legislation to create additional fire stations to improve service to our growing community while strengthening our partnership with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. I also proposed creating a new Rainy Day Fund for the city of Green so no firefighter or deputy would have to be laid off during a financial crisis. And finally, we must address our infrastructure needs, including high-speed internet, while maintaining the necessary assets to ensure our excellent financial standing. This takes someone who has experience working with substantial government budgets. I am unique among the candidates because I have that experience, having overseen the $24 billion Ohio education budget and voting to cut my own pay as our community’s State Representative.

DAVID FRANCE

How long have you lived in Green

I’m 67 years old, have lived in Green for 62 of those years and was a 1970 graduate of Green High School.

Involvement in Green

– Serving on the Merger Study Commission (merger of township and village to create the city of Green)

– City Council – 4 terms (16 years) for Ward 2

– Green Fire Department (1971-1986) as a firefighter/paramedic

– Chaired the Charter Review Commission (2005)

– Currently part-time in City of Green’s Service Department

– Coached Green youth baseball, softball, and basketball

Why are you running

I’m running to be an at-large councilman to help lead the city of Green in a positive direction in the future. I believe my past work in both city government and with the city administration during Green’s creation, coupled with my knowledge of Green’s history, makes me an experienced candidate for the job.

One area to focus on

One area as councilman at large I would like to focus on is the development of a good relationship working with Green’s administration and helping to keep the city financially strong to continue providing excellent safety services to the residents of Green.

JUSTIN LEONTI

How long have you lived in Green

Early 2017 purchased a home in Green.

Involvement in Green

As soon as I moved to Green, I called the mayor’s office and asked how I can get involved in the community. I joined the Drug Task Force in April of 2017 and worked on the Education Committee for about a year and a half. I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Victim Assistance Program of Summit County, and previously was part of the Akron United Coalition.

Why are you running

I’m running for many reasons: to be your voice on City Council, work with residents to come up with viable solutions problems, make sure Green is being fiscally responsible while investing back into the community through infrastructure and amenities, help us attract young hard-working families to the city, among others. Most of all though, when my dad passed, he left me with two life lessons: be happy and help other people. I think it’s time to give back to my community and help in a bigger way, and I’m excited to live by my father’s advice/teachings and help my community.

One area to focus on

I’d like to focus on working directly with our community members to get feedback and discuss ideas and issues our residents face. I believe that elected officials are elected by the people, for the people and should work with the people. I’ve pledged to have open office hours between council meetings so I can best serve the people of Green. As your next councilman at-large, I will serve work directly with the community to better our city.

JUSTIN SPEIGHT

How long have you lived in Green

I was born and raised in Green and graduated as a Bulldog in 2000. I moved out of Green for several years following my enlistment in the Air Force Reserve and returned with my wife to start a family in 2010.

Involvement in Green

While serving on Green City Council, I have held the position of Chair of the Environment and Parks Committee, and I currently serve on the Living Green Task Force, City Tree Advisory Committee, Superintendent’s Round Table, and the Security/Safety Committee for Green Local Schools. I am also a proud Board Member of Green Schools Foundation.

Why are you running

Public service has always been a part of my life. My parents set an example of service through volunteering in our community and I am determined to model that same behavior for my children through my service to our nation and the city of Green. Additionally, I have enjoyed working for the people of Green and want to continue the mission to keep Green great.

One area to focus on

Trust. I am focused on restoring the trust in our government through communication, transparency, hard work and integrity. We will always continue to improve our safety services, infrastructure, parks, and maintain a fiscally conservative budget; however, all of those vital elements will be easier to advance once we reestablish trust. With improved trust comes improved unity.

DESMOND WERTHEIMER

How long have you lived in Green

My family moved here when I was two-years-old. I attended Green Schools, graduating in 1990. After getting married in 2000, my wife and I settled in Montrose. We moved back to Green in 2009 and we have lived here ever since.

Involvement in Green

Currently, I am not on any boards or commissions in Green.

Why are you running

Several years ago, the residents of Green were shocked to find out that Mayor Norton had made a secret trip to visit a Racino in Pennsylvania. Residents were further alarmed to know that there was a concept to build a Racino on Akron-Canton Airport property. To add insult to injury, there was no way the residents or the city could stop the Racino from being built if the concept was put into action. I took the initiative to come up with a plan to find a way to stop this from happening. The idea was hatched to amend our charter to ban Racino’s and those pop up Game of Chance places. Leading several residents, we took signatures to get the issue on the ballot which prevailed by a margin of nearly 4 to 1.

Right now may be the most important time in our cities history to get involved. The Charter Review Commission, the building of Fire Station 3 and the planning for Fire Station 4 are all progressing. The addition of roundabouts in our city has been met with tepid enthusiasm. The daily drama of the NEXUS Pipeline seems to rear up its ugly head. I’m guessing, you will be hearing words like transparency and unity from a number of people. It’s funny, up until four years ago when the trouble started and again two years later with the addition of another council member, Green never had problems with unity or transparency on council. They say we have to learn to work together. No we do not. We get rid of the bad apples at the ballot box. Former Speaker of the U.S. House, Tip O’Neill, said “All Government is Local.” Decisions are made by those who show up and we need our best and brightest to lead Green through this important time.

One area to focus on

In Green, we enjoy the best safety forces in the region with the Sheriff’s office and the Green Fire Department. We must continue to expand these services by first the addition of buildings, and follow them with equipment and personnel. Green recently purchased a New Pumper/Water Tender for the Fire Department. This truck represents the first Green tax dollars to be spent on a frontline apparatus in 23 years. Think of all the development in our city over the last 23 years. We need to replace a 23 year old Ladder Truck and a 25 year old plus Heavy Rescue Truck. Yes, I said 23 years and 25 years. In my mind, that is simply embarrassing. If we order new equipment today, we would have to wait 12 to 16 months to get the new vehicles. There is still nearly $1.5 million left from the NEXUS settlement money that can be used to make all of Green safer.

Editor’s note: James Carr, who is also running for an at-large council seat, did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him.

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This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com