Brad McKitrick in the Ward 6 Democratic primary

Three candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 6 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Bob Hoch, who seeking re-election to another four-year term, Brad McKitrick, a retired Akron firefighter, and Mike Madonio, a retired engineer from the city’s Bureau of Engineering. Ordinarily, the incumbent has a clear advantage. In this instance, the challengers are the stronger candidates. Both McKitrick and Madonio would raise the quality of the council, bringing knowledge, experience and professionalism.

We recommend the election of Brad McKitrick on May 7.

McKitrick stepped down from the Akron Fire Department in 2014 after more than three decades of service. He spent much of his time with the department working as a fire investigator. That put him in touch with the police department, the law department and the court system. He also was active in the union representing firefighters, as an officer and a member of the executive board. So he is familiar with personnel, or human resources, matters. Of late, he has been a member of the city Assessment Equalization Board.

As a whole, his resume reflects solid preparation, from a broad grasp of the city to skills in the give and take of negotiation required to be an effective council member. He highlights the priorities of worn streets, blighted housing and more business activity in the Ellet ward. He also speaks to the city’s larger needs. Perhaps the most defining aspect is his temperament, steady, calm and focused, or what would serve well a divided council.

Mike Madonio also would hit the ground running. From the engineering bureau, he gained a broad understanding of how the city works. He retired in 2008 as design division manager. He was the manager for many major transportation projects. Since retiring, he has been most active in St. Matthew Parish. He emphasizes the need for a council member who is a vigorous advocate for the ward. He argues the ward has not received its fair share of such things as parks and roads money.

The shame is that McKitrick and Madonio cannot both join the council. The edge goes to McKitrick for his wider range of related skills and experience.

At one point, Bob Hoch signaled he would not run again, at least that was the understanding. That was the right instinct after eight years. He has served capably. He also has been at the center of some rocky and regrettable moments for the council. In this race, he faces two better candidates.

 

Russ Neal in the Ward 4 Democratic primary

Two candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 4 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Russ Neal, the incumbent in his 10th year on the council, and Jan Davis, a retired health information manager at Summa Health System, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council position in 2015 and mayor in 2011.

We recommend the re-election of Russ Neal on May 7.

Neal works hard for his ward, and, at his best, he plays a helpful role on the council, stressing the economic and other inequities burdening the black community in the city. That is especially important in view of the Elevate Akron report citing the many years of exclusion from opportunity for African-Americans. At the same time, Neal too often fails to appreciate the valuable skills of persuasion. He needs to take his share of responsibility and work to communicate more effectively. He plays down the idea of getting to seven, or a majority on council. Yet getting the necessary votes is the way to advance his cause.

Jan Davis is energetic, confident and eager to try new ideas. She proposes, among other things, teaching workers to become independent contractors as a path to higher pay. In this race, Neal gets the edge with the expectation he will raise his game.