Voters in North Canton will decide on seven changes to the city’s charter along with a race for three at-large council seats and races in two of the city’s wards.
For North Canton City Council At-Large, four candidates are running for three seats. Incumbents Mark Cerreta, Daniel Griffith and Marcia Kiesling are all seeking re-election, but are being challenged by former mayor and councilman Daryl Revoldt.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING
Cerreta: “I am running for another term because I am still making a difference by improving and keeping our city clean, safe and a desirable place where people want to live. I get things done by applying my local knowledge, experience, relationships and passion for our cities improvement. My goal is to continue to make North Canton a first class-middle class city. If you create a place where people want to live, work, learn and play, it becomes a desirable place for people to live and home values stay strong. I will continue to help create a community atmosphere that is safe and clean with all the desired amenities that attract businesses and residence to our community.”
Griffith: “We live in a wonderful community that continues to be in transition. Whether it is our neighborhoods, the businesses, our safety services, or our schools, we are experiencing changes that require thoughtful attention. I have a passion for problem solving. I hope to use that passion to continue to create a North Canton that my three children will be able to find work and call home when they grow up.”
Kiesling: “I am running for council because I love contributing and having a say in the community I live in. I have been a councilwoman for many years now and I continue to learn something new almost every day, I also enjoy working with my fellow councilmen and collaborating to help solve the city’s issues.”
Revoldt: “The city has made a series of unforced errors in the last 24 months. While the streets get swept and the water runs, these internal operational mistakes cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, I take exception to what appears to be an effort to dismantle accountability, and checks and balances: abandoning verbatim minutes for planning commission meetings (it is important to understand what is said, in what context, to have it readily in hand for oversight, not parked in the Cloud), casual record keeping of council meetings, the willful disregard for process and tinkering with roll call voting. Of great concern is the uncivil behavior of certain officials toward citizens which is simply not acceptable. There is something wrong when a citizen attends a council meeting, asks a valid question and cannot get an answer.”
Cerreta: “In addition to the normal city council legislative duties to keep our city running strong, I have worked hard to create a desirable city aesthetics and community atmosphere. A few examples include: Leading the construction of the 15 Entryway pillars made of brick and stone that welcome people as they drive into our city. I have continued leading that theme with the East and West Maple Street projects that include the brick and stone pillars attached to the rot iron fencing and the new park and city signs that will continue that same theme. I have been the leader on getting donations and setting up the community Christmas tree in Blitzer Park after the Hoover lawn was changed. I was the lead on saving, moving and preserving the Hoover Guard Shack. I have helped dressed up Main Street with classic directional signs and beautiful planters. These are just a few that I am very proud of.”
Griffith: “Good local government is like your water heater. When it is working like it should, you simply turn on the tap and don’t think about the fact that it is in the basement quietly working. I have worked on a great number of projects during my tenure that aren’t very splashy, but have made a huge difference to the bottoms line. One that I am most proud of was the effort to refinance the city’s existing bonds. After several months of work, and numerous meetings with internal and external players, we were able to increase North Canton’s credit rating and save the tax payers over $650,000. Detailed projects like that may not always hit the front page of the newspaper, but it was enough to pay for over eight full-time police officers without an increase in taxes.”
Kiesling: “I do not have one single best accomplishment; there have been many small but impactful ones along the way. Solving our budget issues when the Hoover Company left in 2003, maintaining the level of service we provide to our residents throughout the fall in income taxes, improving all our parks through the years, working with Stark Parks, Stark County Commissioners, Watershed Conservancy and the federal government to buy the homes on the Zimber Ditch and have them razed to create green space and a retention basin. Preserving all roads, with frequent paving and catch basin projects and appropriate salting and plowing in the winter. I look forward to continuing to collaborate and accomplish many more things in this city.”
Revoldt: “Greatest accomplishment as mayor: It was launching the water system upgrade. We got control of water distribution losses. We built a major supply line to the Little League fields from Dressler Road, and established two new wells and we started an major upgrade to the water treatment plant.”
MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE TO ADDRESS IF ELECTED
Cerreta: “Economic development, the Hoover District and its progress. The Hoover District has over 1,100 jobs in the backside of the building that provides a stable tax income, as do all businesses in the city to help pay for city services. The Hoover front side planned for over 140 apartments and attached retail with a water fountain on the front lawn will be a difference maker to the surrounding atmosphere and theme of our downtown community. This will create a vibrant downtown that community members will want to walk too and live close too. This will increase home values within that walking distance and create more pride and demand for those homes that will be within that walking downtown zone.”
Griffith: “Economic development is the most important issue for us. When economic development works well it tends to solve other major issues. With more business demand, housing values rise and there tend to be fewer rental homes. Greater business growth means more revenue to the schools. More workers mean more tax dollars that come from non-residents instead of higher taxes on those of us who already live here. We need to make the permits and inspection process more user friendly and less expensive so that residents will have an easier time repairing their older houses. With these changes many of the other concerns that people have will also improve.”
Kiesling: “The next term I hope to address several issues. I hope to create a new city-wide CRA to help businesses and homeowners improve their properties, continued collaboration with Stark Parks, helping to build the trail through North Canton and razing more homes along the ditch, continued collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and helping to create jobs and grow businesses and working with the Hoover District owners to get the project completed.”
Revoldt: “The most important issue is finishing Hoover. It is the critical element in our economic development effort. There are $5.5 million public dollars in the project. The developer has no excuse. The community has been more than patient and understanding. The city needs to bring every non-financial tool to bear to get this project off dead center.”
STANCE ON ISSUE 44
Cerreta: “I strongly suggest voting no on Issue 44. Issue 44 is not a win/win plan for the schools and the surrounding community. We need a better plan. Over the last 15 years, I have been the North Canton school levy chairman twice and have been on every School Levy Committee. I have always supported our schools with the right plan. This is not the right plan.”
Griffith: “The schools are an essential tool in economic development. Although I am deeply concerned that the income tax increase will make economic development more of a challenge, we cannot continue to allow the schools to exist in the current state. I would advocate for the creation of a comprehensive economic development plan that includes the schools, city, Walsh and the Chamber of Commerce. None of those entities can act alone to improve North Canton in a sustainable way.”
Kiesling: “Issue 44 is a very complicated, as it affects how the city can now do business. We have been fortunate enough to be able to attract businesses to the city with the lowest income tax in the county. If issue 44 passes, we will now have the highest income tax in the county. I would likely support this issue if the income tax portion of it was not forever.”
Revoldt: “I graduated from Hoover. Same for our girls. My wife taught in the system for 30 years. Issue 44 works well for me, but I am retired. Everyone needs to look at 44 in the context of their own finances and what they can afford. In 2008, then city finance director Alex Zumbar and I did a study in response to a proposal to raise the income tax. We found that a significant number of residents worked but had little left at years end. We did not raise the income tax. I am committed to the schools. It is one of the reasons I stood up against the big mystery tax abatement the city awarded. It robbed the schools. If 44 fails, I will actively work with the school board on a Plan B.”
Voters in Ward 3 and Ward 4 will decide whether to keep their current councilperson or elect a new face. Current Ward 3 Councilperson Stephanie Werren is being challenged by Jon Snyder, who formerly served on council. In Ward 4, current councilman Dominic Fonte is being challenged by BJ Boyajian.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING
Werren: “I have enjoyed working with and for the residents in Ward 3 for the past five years. I like helping people solve issues and problems they have with the city, their neighbors, their infrastructure, whatever it may be. It’s important to connect them with the right person to handle their issues in a timely manner. I want working with government to be an easy process not cumbersome. In the end, I focus on the needs of the residents and in some small or large way attempt to improve their lives in our community. I also believe North Canton has a smart, committed, passionate group of Council members that work very well together who always look for ways to make North Canton better. I believe I add to that dynamic.”
Snyder: “I am dedicated to open, honest government. North Canton needs a leader gifted with determination and knowledge of the needs of the community.”
Fonte: “Being self-employed for 30, I am results driven and that is what the city needs. I believe I am making a difference with what is happening with council. I am a results driven businessman, not a politician by trait.”
Boyajian: “I am a lifelong resident of North Canton. I grew up with a family in the political forefront of North Canton. I have always been interested in politics and local government. My passion for client service, helping people and ultimately bettering our city matched with my skill set in the financial world- led me to self discover that the time is now. It was always in my plans, since I was a student at Clearmount Elementary serving on Student Council. I knew one day I would run to take a seat to serve North Canton. I have 20 years of experience in a leadership role with proven results. I know that will translate well into our government. The city needs effective leaders who can work with both our administration and our constituents.”
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT / EXPERIENCE
Werren: “It is difficult to take credit for any one accomplishment. It’s always a group effort which includes working with administration, council, the city engineer or attorney, permits etc. We all work together and the ideas seem to build as we rely on each other’s expertise. However, some specific areas of success are communication, finance and collaborative agreements. In the area of communication, North Canton now live streams all of North Canton council meetings including planning and zoning. A twice a year publication is mailed to all residents detailing activities involving the city of North Canton and recently administration has updated the North Canton City Facebook page and is working on improving the city website. In the area of finance, Council approved the use of RITA to assist with the collection of Income Tax increasing efficiency. Council has also been proactive in fund allotment for specific future projects involving city infrastructure. Lastly, in an age where state funds seem to be continually decreasing it’s important to find ways to collaborate. We have worked with many entities to support those who were affected by the Zimber Ditch issues, as one example. We have also worked with agencies including the YMCA to provide services for our city pool which has been a great collaboration for both entities.”
Snyder: “Two decades on City Council, most as President; ten years on the planning commission; served as president of North Canton Chamber of Commerce and Rotary club. Current business operator on Main Street.”
Fonte: “Addressing the Zimber Ditch was one of the most important issues addressed. Also I didn’t think there was good enough communication between the city and residents. In 2015 I launched a YouTube channel to post videos about happenings in the ward. I also launched a Facebook page to connect with residents. I also went to city hall to work to have improved acoustics. I also worked to improve storm grates, the city newsletter, website and to make sure all city meetings are streamed on the website.”
Boyajian: “In our community I have served on the PTO for Clearmount Elementary School from 2013-2016, two of those years as President. I am a classroom volunteer for my son’s FFF class at St. Pauls Catholic Church here in North Canton where my family has been a member since settling in North Canton in the 1960′s. I currently serve as a Stark Advisory Board Member for the Coleman Professional Services. I have served on this board for over five years. I am also a member of the Perry Township Rotary.”
MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN THE WARD TO ADDRESS IF ELECTED
Werren: “I believe there are two areas of focus always for a ward councilperson. You have the direct issues of the people in your neighborhoods and then the needs of the entire city. After walking throughout Ward 3 the past five years and meeting many neighbors and understanding the neighborhoods, the issues I hear about most frequently are road conditions, speed limits and zoning issues. I always ask neighbors to share their concerns and suggestions, luckily, people are overall very satisfied with North Canton. The residents are proud to live in a city that is well maintained, safe, has incredible services and wonderful schools. However, I continually look to the future and ask what can we do better. In that regard, I believe we can always communicate more effectively and in different forums. We need to keep our residents informed and figure out the best way to do that. We also need to have jobs available to our residents. Jobs help fund our city infrastructure, our safety services and our vision of being the best place to live, work and play. Administration has done a great job of attracting many businesses to the Hoover Facility. The city income tax has surpassed the level it was before the Hoover Company left, however there is still much space to be developed. In this regard, we need to spend more time on economic development and make it easier to locate in North Canton if you are a business.”
Snyder: “Along with economic development and annexation, we need to make government easy to restore back to the citizens and shine a light on all government business.”
Fonte: “I rolled out legislation to look into the Main Street Business District zoning classification. Some of the ordnances are outdated when it comes to lighting and parking and I want to make improvements to help secure businesses. The Acme plaza currently is getting renovated and I want to see more flexibility with ordnances for older business real estate. Also I met with the developer of the Hoover District and there was a delay, but you will see movement next year. I want to make the Hoover District area a walkable area for people.”
Boyajian: “The most important issue as an entire city is the Hoover District- we need emphasis and accountability to see this project to completion. We need to ensure we have a finger on finances to prevent wasteful spending. This will assist us in doing our best to prevent an increase in taxes- I want to attract new business and new residents. I want to enhance North Canton’s appeal while being fiscally responsible. As a ward- communication and follow up. I will return your phone calls, I will answer my door to talk with you and I will communicate.”
STANCE ON ISSUE 44
Werren: “Although I live in North Canton, my school district is Plain Local. However, I have always supported school levy’s in the past. My one concern as a councilwoman is the increase in income tax and what that may do to attracting business to our community.”
Fonte: “With 30 years in real estate, the school system is critical. We need safe buildings and paid teachers, but is this the correct way to fund it? The school buildings need fixed and this issue isn’t going to go away, but it is up to the voters to decide if this is the right way or not. If it fails, we are all going to have to come together and put our heads together.”
Boyajian: “I am Voting No on Issue 44.”
ISSUE 8: North Canton, charter amendment, Article II, Section 2.05 will allow council to vote on legislation with a voice vote instead of a roll call.
ISSUE 9: North Canton, charter amendment, Article III, Section 3.07(2) will allow for the city engineer, director of administration, director of permits and a selected member of council to serve as non-voting members of the Planning Commission to serve as an advisory role.
ISSUE 10: North Canton, charter amendment, Article III, Section 3.07(3) will better explain the duties of the Zoning and Building Standards Board of Appeals.
ISSUE 11: North Canton, charter amendment, Article III, Section 3.07(3) will allow for the city engineer, director of administration, director of permits and a selected member of council to serve as non-voting members of the Zoning and Building Standards Board of Appeals.
ISSUE 12: North Canton, charter amendment, Article IV, Section 4.03 will align the city with the state in regards to matching the fiscal budget and accounting year with the calendar year.
ISSUE 13: North Canton, charter amendment, Article VI, Section 6.04 will require the Charter Review Commission to have a majority vote of the total number of commission members and not just those present at a specific meeting to recommend charter amendments to city council.
ISSUE 14: North Canton, charter amendment of Article VI, Section 6.04 will require the Charter Review Commission to elect a chair person, vice chairperson and a secretary.
This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com