Shammas Malik in the Ward 8 Democratic primary

Two candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 8 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Shammas Malik, an attorney who recently stepped down from his position with the city law department to run for office, and the Rev. Curtis T. Walker Sr. of the A.M.E. Zion Church, the president of the Akron Board of Education. Each would add to the quality of the council.

We recommend the election of Shammas Malik on May 7.

Malik is just three years out of law school, yet he already has begun to make a mark, returning from Harvard to the city where he grew up. At the law department, he worked in the civil division, handling a variety of matters, getting to know how the city works and building relationships. He is a quick study, and it shows in the depth with which he talks about the city and its challenges.

In this campaign, Malik has made a priority of the Merriman Valley, with an eye on enhancing the area’s place as a gateway to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He emphasizes public safety, especially improved training for police officers and building better relationships between the department and neighborhoods. He grasps the complexity of economic development, the need for a strong downtown and greater opportunity for minorities.

Malik knows the city must attract families, and in that way, his relative youth is representative of the need to refresh the city population and its leadership. He would be a strong addition to the City Council.

So would the Rev. Walker. The past two decades, he has been an effective and positive presence on the school board. His calm and thoughtful approach would be helpful on a council afflicted with mistrust and, at times, dysfunction. He would be a voice for economic inclusion, the black community long on the outside. He would aid in securing the key relationship between the city and the schools. He cites the importance of greater diversity on the police force, recreation programs for young people and a vibrant downtown.

Walker shares many of the priorities of his opponent. The edge goes to Shammas Malik for his new voice and time spent in city government.

 

Brian Fortney in the Ward 8 Republican primary

Two candidates are vying in the Republican primary for the Ward 8 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Greg Dunham, a retired accountant from Ohio Edison, and Brian Fortney, global project manager for Rockwell Automation. As in the Democratic primary, this race features two solid candidates.

We recommend the election of Brian Fortney on May 7.

Fortney frames the priorities for Ward 8 around protecting home values. Thus, he emphasizes public safety, good schools and strong city services. Just as important as his focus on the Northwest Akron ward is his grasp of the larger challenges of the city, including its strained finances. His business experience would be a plus as the city looks to improve its operations and implement its economic development plans.

His candidacy also benefits from his community involvement, including time on the boards of the Akron Symphony, Torchbearers and Actors’ Summit. Such relationships add to his understanding of the city.

Dunham, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2018, brings his own strengths. As an accountant, he would be helpful as the council examines city finances. He sees a need for improved transparency and accountability in city operations, along with working toward a larger reserve fund. He long has been active in the ward, currently serving as the treasurer of the Fairlawn Heights Neighborhood Association, for which a leading priority is slowing speeders on residential streets.