When the Akron City Council redrew the ward boundaries following the census, it created a new Ward 1, including Highland Square and extending into parts of downtown and the University of Akron. Now five candidates are vying in the Democratic primary. Each brings strengths to the race. Two stand out as the strongest of the group, Robin Green and Rich Swirsky.
Either candidate would do well on the council. Their skills differ in many ways, yet each is ready to contribute on a range of challenges, adding to the debate and the decision-making, all while understanding the essential task of proving responsive to ward residents.
Voters don’t have the luxury of sending both to the council. They must choose. We give the edge to Robin Green. We recommend her election in the Democratic primary on Sept. 10.
A longtime resident of the ward, Green began her professional career as a nurse, eventually gaining a master’s degree in business administration, launching into the management ranks of health care, reaching senior levels, performing consulting and even starting a new business. She understands strategic planning, development, operations and budgets. She would add valuable perspectives and experience to the council deliberations, especially concerning such items as the biomedical corridor, even the repair of the combined sewer system.
The test of a council member is turning easy words into consistent, hard work for the ward and the city. Look at Green’s professional record, and the safe bet is, she, having retired at a relatively young age, will apply her energy and focus to the priorities she has outlined, from safe neighborhoods to business development.
Rich Swirsky worked for two decades as a community organizer for Ohio Citizen Action. He knows how to mobilize and rally people, for instance, in helping lead the effort to keep Taco Bell out of Highland Square. What is especially appealing about Swirsky is the maturity he has gained. The past decade he has been involved in education, including as a reading instructor at Firestone High School. He appears to have lost none of his passion for public work. What he appreciates more is the complexity often involved in politics.
In view of his own long residence in Highland Square and involvement in the community, a ward council seat makes much sense for Swirsky. In this primary race, he faces one candidate who would add more dimensions to the council.
Chuck Heimbaugh retired in 2009 after three decades in the city planning department. His knowledge would be an obvious plus, starting with his capacity to ask good questions about the capital budget. Derrick Hall is an attorney, pharmacist and business consultant, also an active volunteer. He highlights his capacity to engage young people. John Bryan points to his volunteer experience and, more, his business career in the city as a distinguishing asset that he would bring to the council.