Are two Roemers better than one?
Voters in northern Summit County will decide next month whether to elect a second Roemer to County Council.
Greg Roemer, the 24-year-old son of Councilman-at-large Bill Roemer, is trying to unseat Councilman Nick Kostandaras in District 1.
If he’s successful, it would be the first time two relatives serve on the 11-member council at the same time.
The Roemer-Kostandaras matchup is the most intriguing contest among the nine council races this year, not only because there would be two Roemers on the council, but also the son would — in a political sense — avenge the loss of his father.
Bill Roemer, a Republican, lost to Kostandaras, a Democrat, during his first run for the council in 2008. He won an at-large position two years later.
Like his father, Greg Roemer is a Republican from Richfield.
District 1 encompasses Boston Heights, Boston Township, Macedonia, Northfield, Northfield Center Township, Peninsula, Reminderville, Richfield, Richfield Township, Sagamore Hills Township, Twinsburg, Twinsburg Township and a small portion of Cuyahoga Falls.
Kostandaras, 75, who’s also from Richfield, said he’s uncomfortable with the idea of two family members serving together on the council. Family loyalties might interfere with voting, he said.
“Would I go against my son, even if I think he’s wrong? I think not,” said Kostandaras, a retired businessman who is seeking a third council term.
“It’s something the voters have to decide,” he added. “My motto has always been it’s not about me. It’s about the people. I put myself last and put the people first.”
Greg Roemer, an umpire who has an engineering degree from Ohio State University, dismissed the thought he and his father would form a voting bloc.
Views are different
“My views are completely different from my father’s,” said Greg Roemer, who helped on both his father’s political campaigns. “He’s conservative. I’m much more middle of the road.”
Bill Roemer said it would be exciting to serve with his son, but he has no illusion they would agree on every issue.
“Greg and I are definitely two different people,” he said.
Having two family members serve on a council is not unprecedented in Summit County.
Family members serve
Father Bob Otterman and son John Otterman, both Democrats, served together on Akron City Council in the 1990s. Republicans Brian Daley and daughter Kristina Roegner were on Hudson City Council for a couple of years.
Glen Blakeney and Dawn Brannan-Blakeney, who are married, serve on the nonpartisan Boston Heights Village Council. Dawn’s uncle, Ronald Fenn, also is on council.
“Our family is a service-oriented family,” Dawn Brannan-Blakeney said.
Some people might believe the family is in cahoots on village issues, but she said that’s not the case.
“We don’t agree on everything,” she said, adding that she and her husband try not to discuss controversial village business at home.
“We must be doing an OK job because [voters] keep electing us to the position,” she said.
Daley said he has no problem with two family members serving together as long as voters elect them, as opposed to individuals being appointed. He also laughed off the potential that family would always vote the same way.
“Any group can form a voting bloc,” he said. “You don’t have to be related.”
At the time Daley and Roegner were serving together, some Hudson residents were uneasy about one family holding two votes on the council.
Sparks ballot issue
The unease even sparked a ballot issue in 2006 to prevent relatives from serving together on the council or administration. Voters defeated the issue that was promoted as an anti-nepotism effort.
All eight district County Council seats, which are four-year terms, are up for election this year. There also is a contest to complete the unfinished term of an at-large position.
Democrats control the council, holding nine of the 11 seats. Earlier this year, the council also created Democrat-friendly districts based on the 2010 census, making it more difficult for Republicans to be elected.
Other council races
The other races are:
• Democrat Sandra Kurt of Akron faces Republican Jane Davis of Hudson to complete an unexpired at-large term that ends in December 2014. Kurt was appointed to the position in March 2011 after Democrat Jon Poda resigned to take a job with the county.
• Incumbent Democrat John Schmidt of Cuyahoga Falls faces Republican Nancy DeLambo of Cuyahoga Falls in District 2.
• Incumbent Republican Gloria Rodgers of Stow faces Democrat Russ Iona of Cuyahoga Falls in District 3.
• Incumbent Democrat Frank Comunale of Akron faces Republican Mike Hoover of Akron in District 4.
• Democrat Tamela Lee of Akron faces Republican Lance Reed of Copley Township in District 5. Lee was appointed to the position in April 2011 after Democrat Cazzell Smith resigned to take a job with the county.
• Incumbent Democrat Jerry Feeman of Tallmadge faces Republican Faith Bennetts of Akron in District 6.
• Incumbent Democrat Tim Crawford of Norton faces Republican Larry Ashbaugh of Clinton in District 7.
• Incumbent Democrat Paula Prentice of Akron faces Republican Tom Wolfe of Akron in District 8.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.