Sharon Connor in the Ward 10 Democratic primary

Three candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 10 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Zack Milkovich, the incumbent concluding his first term on the council, Jack Hefner, the longtime president of United Steelworkers Local 2, and Sharon Connor, a community organizer with a lengthy resume of getting things done to improve the ward.

We recommend the election of Sharon Connor on May 7.

In 1993 and 1995, Connor ran and lost in bids to join the council. She responded by devoting herself to elevating the ward and its neighborhoods. In 2001, she formed the RIGHT committee, Residents Improving Goodyear Heights Together. Her accomplishments have been larger and smaller, from 10 Little Free Libraries to the current Akron Parks Challenge to upgrade Reservoir Park. It isn’t too much to say that she is everywhere, engaging and leading.

As a result of her activism, she knows well the ward and the territory at City Hall. She already has been doing the job of a council member, in part. It follows she should gain the position for which she is such a solid fit.

Jack Hefner served on the council for six months, filling a vacancy left in the turmoil following Don Plusquellic’s sudden decision to resign as mayor in 2015. He then lost his try for a full, four-year term. As a council member, he showed he was up to the job. Drawing on his labor background, he brings skills in the necessary give and take. He knows what it takes to address problems effectively.

Yet, in this race, Hefner faces a stronger candidate in Connor.

Both are much better than the underachieving Milkovich. He was a mediocre presence in the Ohio House before losing in a primary. Now his council performance argues for the same outcome. It is hard to make a case for re-election when the incumbent fails to take questions from residents at ward meetings. Some residents grew so frustrated they formed their own organization to address the challenges facing the ward. In Sharon Connor, they would have a doer and an ally.

 

Phil Lombardo in the Ward 2 Democratic primary

Two candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 2 seat on the City Council. They are the Bruce Kilby, the incumbent who since the 1990s has spent 23 years on the council, with a couple interruptions, and Phil Lombardo, a longtime accountant with FirstEnergy making his first run for elected office.

We recommend the election of Phil Lombardo on May 7.

Lombardo has mounted a serious challenge, walking door to door in the North Hill ward since the fall. His accounting expertise would be helpful to the council in assessing budgets and finances. He long has been active in the ward, especially through the Blessed Trinity Parish and athletic organizations such as the North Akron Baseball Association. Most appealing about his candidacy is the prospect that he would be a constructive presence, through his knowledge of the ward, including the value brought by refugees, and his professional approach.

There is some concern that as a longtime friend of Mayor Dan Horrigan, Lombardo would lack independence. That would be a test of his first term.

Bruce Kilby has defined his role on council as a check against the administration, the Plusquellic and now Horrigan versions. There is something worthwhile in such a posture. Yet too often of late opposition has been the sum of Kilby’s contribution. As a veteran member, he should be expected to do more to ease the distrust that has infected the council. Ward residents deserve better from their representative. In Phil Lombardo, they are likely to get it.