Margo Sommerville’s appointment Monday to the Ward 3 seat in Akron held by her father since 1987 did not come without criticism. Others who applied and members of the City Council screening committee voiced concerns about the appearance of political favoritism.
What the criticism misses are Margo Sommerville’s solid qualifications for filling out the final year of her father’s term. Marco Sommerville, the former council president, stepped down Jan. 1 to take over as city planning director.
With a master’s degree in public administration, Margo Sommerville was the only one of nine applicants with a degree beyond a bachelor’s degree. She has been vice president and funeral director at Sommerville Funeral Services since 2004 and has been active in the community, including service on local boards.
More, both local political parties long have recognized the value of family names, whether in gaining appointments or running for office. Names such as Keith, Otterman, Sykes and Slaby have become well established, though they do not guarantee victory, voters with the final say.
It should be added that the Sommerville name comes with big expectations as well as benefits. During his years on the City Council, Marco Sommerville took care of his ward. He also grew to understand the larger and more complex issues affecting the city as a whole, no easy task. Voters should expect the same of his daughter as she seeks to establish a name in her own right.