AURORA -- Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin recently announced her bid to be re-elected as Aurora's mayor at the Nov. 7 general election. She filed her nominating petition with the Portage County Board of Elections on June 26.
Womer Benjamin beat five opponents in 2013 to earn her first term as mayor. She said since then, she has delivered on the representations she made during her first campaign.
She cites as her accomplishments holding the line on city spending, persuading city employees to agree to contribute to their health care costs and has held the size of the city's full-time workforce to the same number as when she took office.
Womer Benjamin formerly served as a state representative for the 75th District -- representing most of Portage County. Then Gov. Bob Taft later appointed her to lead the Ohio Department of Insurance as a member of his cabinet.
While at the department, she helped stabilize the medical malpractice market for which she was awarded the Ohio University Phillips Medal of Public Service. She also served four years on the Ohio Board of Education and two years on Aurora City Council.
During her first term as mayor, Womer Benjamin said she has focused on enhancing the Town Center, rebuilding infrastructure and strengthening the city's business base.
As part of the Town Center development, the circa 1805 Ebenezer Sheldon Deed House was moved to Pioneer Park created on East Pioneer Trail. The project was the result of a unique collaboration between the city and Aurora Historical Society, which now manages the building as a history and visitor center.
The mayor explained she has helped facilitate the Aurora School of Music's expansion and the renovation of the 1815 Tavern, while Kiwanis-Moore Playground in Town Center has undergone renovations with new ballfields, more parking and walking paths.
Under her direction, she noted the city has initiated a bus service for senior residents needing rides to medical and other appointments, and recently launched a city lockbox program available through the fire department.
After convincing residents to rezone the Aurora portion of the former Geauga Lake Park to mixed-use in 2014, Womer Benjamin said she has continued to pursue productive development of that area. The city will soon welcome Liberty Ford as the first new business on the Aurora side, relocating from Solon.
"With the collaboration of City Council, we've been able to build sidewalks, address infrastructure issues across the city such as replacing aging water lines, and improve stormwater management," Womer Benjamin said.
"I've also worked on attracting new businesses to our community to ensure a strong financial base in the future, and creating more opportunities to showcase the history and character of our beautiful community."
"We have many projects still in planning stages, including more sidewalks and bike routes, historic district revitalization and Geauga Lake development."
An attorney by profession, Womer Benjamin has lived in Aurora for 33 years and practiced law in both Canton and Cleveland. She is active in the Church in Aurora, is a life member of the Aurora Historical Society and Aurora Community Theatre, is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, and was recently inducted into the Rotary Club.
Her husband, David is also an attorney, and they have two grown daughters and two grandchildren.