Beacon Journal staff writer
BARBERTON: At-large City Councilman Bill Judge has announced he will run for mayor.
The Barberton native and Democrat is in his eighth year on council. He is a former Ward 2 councilman.
Judge, 35, said he has several goals for the city and wants to see the community go in a little different direction. He says the city must market itself better.
His father, William Judge, was mayor from 1980 to 1987.
''I'm proud of the fact that I'm from a family that had strong ties in the community,'' he said. ''With my uncles and father, it's over 50 years of public service. I take great pride in the fact that I walk the same streets as my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father.''
Judge said he thinks he can make a difference.
''I think there are a lot of little things the city can do that will have major impact,'' he said. ''Everything I want to do surrounds economic development. That's the No. 1 key. We have to replenish our tax base.''
He mentioned streets and flooding as major issues he wants to address. He has proposed three options to pay for street repavement and is seeking feedback from the community.
''No one is going to move to Barberton if we have flooding issues, which we do,'' he said.
Judge will run against Mayor Bob Genet, who is seeking a second term.
He said his decision to run against Genet, a fellow Democrat, is not personal.
''It's not me versus Bob. I respect Mr. Genet and I think he has great backing from the city and it's not even about me. It's about everyone in the city of Barberton working together to move forward to make the city better. It's the only way it's going to work.''
He said residents must realize a lot of state and federal cuts are going to affect the city.
He talked about several issues, including using social media as well as a different type of regionalism.
''Technology is huge,'' he said. ''Twitter and Facebook or even texting could be used for free instead of callback devices the city uses that charge a flat fee to let people know about a road out or a boil alert for water. It's something inexpensive we could do for people to contact their officials.''
Judge said he would like to put together an economic task force of business leaders in the area to discuss revenue ideas, cutting expenses, central purchasing and developing the city's economic base.
''Every business uses copier paper, so why can't we team up with the schools, maybe even the hospital or B&W, and we all go in together and purchase paper if it would reduce cost?'' he asked. ''We could also approach different cities. All the police departments tend to use the same type of vehicles, so why don't we go in together to try to get vehicles at a better price or even tires?
''It's limitless what you can come up with, and there's been no discussion in this area.''
He said education is also a key component to the city. He credited Genet for following through with bringing in the University of Akron and Stark State, which offers college credits at a reduced price at the Barberton campus, but he would like to expand options to include other colleges such as Cleveland State or technical colleges.
He said Ashland University and Walsh University both have five campuses.
''If you can finish high school with up to two years of college already done, so why can't you finish high school and have an apprenticeship in pipe fitters, and that could help the city replenish its work force?'' he asked.
Judge also has some ideas on what to do with the money collected from rental registrations.
''So we started accumulating all this revenue and there's no plan on how to use it. The voters voted for it. We talked about a mayor's court that dealt with just property issues. We talked about paint rebate properties, this and that. At the end of this year, it's budgeted to have $171,000 in it with no plan,'' he said.
''It's not used in the general fund, so it's not going to balance any budgets, which have separate accounts. But it boggles my mind how the voters passed something and we have no plan on how to use it.''
Judge has come up with a plan that includes a paint rebate program, a mulch rebate program and help for landlords with assessments and demolition.
Judge has been a fiscal officer for Summit County in the department of finance and budgets for the last three years. Before that, he spent nearly seven years in financial services with a private firm in Cleveland, McDonald Investments, supervising the money-market department.
Judge graduated from Ashland University in 2006 with a master's degree in business administration. He earned a master of science degree from the University of Akron in 2000 and a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1999 from Heidelberg College.
Judge will face Genet on Sept. 13 in the Democratic primary.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.