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Ohio Politics

Candidates line up for Summit County Council

By admin Published: April 20, 2011

By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

At least five Democrats are interested in filling a vacancy on the Summit County Council.

Deandre Forney, Tamela Lee, Rick Owens, Ed Smith and Mexie Wilson want the District 5 seat that was held by Councilman Cazzell Smith.

Smith, 62, a Democrat, resigned Monday to take a deputy director position with the county administration. He had been on the council since 1991.

The Democratic Party has scheduled a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Akron Urban League to select his replacement. The 51 precinct committee members within District 5 — made up of West Akron, Fairlawn and Copley Township — will make the appointment.

The winner will serve the remainder of Smith's four-year term, which ends next year.

The candidates are:

• Forney, 28, of Akron, who has ran unsuccessfully for Akron City Council, and lost an attempt to be appointed to the County Council in 2007. He was acquitted in 2009 of a grand-theft charge related to work done with the LeBron James Family Foundation.

''I believe that council needs a younger, fresh perspective,'' said Forney, who owns a valet company. ''One of the biggest problems we have in Ohio and Summit County is that we are losing young professionals and we are not attracting young professionals.''

• Lee, 52, of Akron, who ran and lost a primary race last year for the Ohio Senate. She is second vice chair of the county Democratic Party.

''I see so much potential and opportunity for building new small businesses and developing a vibrant high-tech industry here in Summit County,'' she said. ''I am confident these opportunities will continue to spur improved educational opportunities and grow our middle class.''

She has been endorsed by County Executive Russ Pry, county Fiscal Officer John Donofrio, Akron City Council President Marco Sommerville and Board of Elections member Tim Gorbach.

• Owens, 56, of Akron, who runs Men of Valor 1, a local fatherhood initiative, and serves as board chair for the Westside Neighborhood Development Corp.

He said he wants to focus on the problem of vacant and abandoned properties; preparing youth for the work force; and creating jobs. ''What are we doing to solidify ourselves in this region?'' he asked.

• Smith, 54, of Akron, an attorney and the brother of Cazzell Smith.

''I've always been interested in serving in some way,'' he said, adding that he has an undergraduate degree in social work.

• Wilson, 39, the Northeast Ohio marketing representative for the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. She ran unsuccessfully for Akron school board in 2009.

She said she would like to increase opportunities for youth in the community. ''I think it's an exciting opportunity to serve my community and West Akron,'' Wilson said.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or



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