Tara Samples in the Ward 5 Democratic primary

Two candidates are vying in the Democratic primary for the Ward 5 seat on the Akron City Council. They are Tara Samples, the incumbent seeking another four-year term, and Johnnie Hannah, the owner of Mollie’s Sweet Treats N Things, an ice cream and sandwich shop. Both candidates would serve well. Samples has the advantage of having performed the job. She is a strong advocate for the ward and has become more effective with time.

We recommend the election of Tara Samples on May 7.

Samples knows how to stir the political pot, and thus she has played her own role in the distrust and dysfunction that afflicts the council. That said, she has gotten better as a council member, especially in knowing when to fight for something and when it is wiser to step back. She also knows how to work with Mayor Horrigan to achieve her goals.

Consider the issue of gun violence, a problem in the ward, which goes from part of North Hill past the Grace Park area and then south of the expressway. Samples approached the mayor about taking action. She stresses the need for more diversity in the ranks of the police force, more officers walking in neighborhoods and the city establishing a police substation in the ward.

Her initiative in this instance reflects the time and energy she commits to her council work.

Beyond his current business, Johnnie Hannah is a Vietnam War veteran, a hair stylist who operated his own salon, a former bus driver for Metro Transit and current president of the Akron Interdenominational Church Ushers Association. He shares many of the same priorities as Samples. He emphasizes resurfacing streets and cleaning up neighborhoods, from tearing down dilapidated housing to neighbors taking responsibility for the way properties look. As effective as he likely would be, he lacks a case for replacing Samples.


Donnie Kammer in the Ward 7 Democratic primary

The Democratic primary for the Ward 7 seat on the Akron City Council has been nasty at times. Donnie Kammer, the incumbent now in his eighth year as a council member, challenged the petitions of his opponent Tammy Cummings. The Summit County Board of Elections rejected his request. Cummings argues that Kammer pays too little attention to lower-income neighborhoods, especially near Wilbeth and Arlington roads, or outside Firestone Park. Actually, both candidates are better than the sniping suggests.

We recommend the election of Donnie Kammer on May 7.

In many ways, Kammer delivers as a council member should. He is responsive to residents. He knows how to mobilize departments to address ward needs. He also sees the larger picture, that a council member must think about the city as a whole, evident, for example, in his work as the chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He works hard and well for his ward and the city. If there is one way he could be more constructive, it goes to developing the occasional short memory all elected officials need if they are going to be part of a productive team, even putting behind Tara Samples encouraging his challenger.

Tammy Cummings has a powerful story, now six years sober after addictions to drugs and alcohol, getting arrested and giving up custody of her children. She now is a recovery coach, helping others find their way to productive lives. She is versed in the issues, and makes a good point about a struggling part of the ward. She wants to see, among other things, a greater focus on programs for young people.