Six candidates are vying for the three at-large seats on the Akron City Council. They include the three Democratic incumbents, Jeff Fusco, Linda Omobien and Mike Williams. This is a council that would benefit from the presence of a Republican or two. Yet in this race, the incumbents stand out — for their knowledge of the way city government works and the pertinent skills they have acquired in public office.
We recommend the re-election of Jeff Fusco, Linda Omobien and Mike Williams on Nov. 5.
Fusco is a particularly effective council member. He works hard. He works well with his colleagues. He is informed and keeps his eye, as an at-large member must, on the impact of policies on the city as a whole. It matters that he is a former deputy service director and thus alert to how a crucial department runs. The council and the mayor’s office have come to depend on Fusco to move measures forward, and he has delivered.
Omobien served well for years on the Akron school board and seemed to take a logical step to the City Council. In her first council term, she has had a slow start, due, in large part, to difficult relations with Mayor Don Plusquellic. She talks about asserting her independence. That is a good thing, yet to be effective, it must be done in a way that builds influence. Omobien can do better, and so can the mayor in making the relationship work.
Mike Williams has carved the role of dissenter in chief. Yet, with his experience and knowledge, he should make a contribution beyond saying no. If he intends to run again for mayor in two years, he owes residents a more constructive platform.
Two Republicans in the race make a good impression, Karl Johnson, a United Airlines pilot and small business owner, the company renting recreational equipment, and Chris Kormushoff, who has run a successful photography business for two decades. Each talks about the need for party diversity. They would bring small-business experience. At the same time, they face strong incumbents. The third Republican candidate is Linda Robinson.
Because of a charter amendment approved by Akron voters last year, the council at-large candidates are seeking two-year terms in this election, instead of the usual four years. In 2015, at-large candidates again will seek four-year terms, running at the same time as the candidates for mayor and ward council seats, all with four-year terms.