by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- City officials believe the theme of the November election will be teamwork.

During a press conference Jan. 23, after announcing their plans to run for re-election this fall, Mayor Karen Fritschel, Finance Director John Baranek and City Councilmembers discussed the cooperation of city officials.

"I don't know of any other city that called a joint press conference like this," said Fritschel, who is serving her first term. "We don't always agree on issues, but we are working on common goals."

The general election will take place Nov. 6. The four-year terms for the finance director and mayor will begin Jan. 2, 2008, and run through Jan. 1, 2012. The mayor is limited to two terms, and there is no term limit for the finance director.

All seven Council seats are up for election. Each Council term will begin Jan. 2, 2008, and run through Jan 1, 2010.

Fritschel said, if re-elected, she will focus on the completion of the city center, the construction of the Seasons Road and Route 8 interchange, stormwater management and the possibility of opening a regional dispatch center in Stow.

"The cornerstone of our administration is economic development and growth," she said. "Stow has been very successful in economic growth during the past three years, and I pledge my commitment to work hard for the community."

Baranek, who is serving in his 12th year, said he will run for a fourth term.

Baranek said he believes his office has focused on "making sure taxpayers' money is well-spent."

"Despite periods of poor economic development conditions, we have successfully avoided layoffs and cutbacks throughout the city," he said. "Many cities have not been as fortunate. Our immediate challenge is to fund the many capital projects that have been identified as necessary for the city."

Council President Ron Gauthier, who is in his eighth year of service, is running for the Ward 1 position.

"We have a great team," he said. "I have looked at other cities and other communities, and no one can hold a candle to the city of Stow."

Council Vice President Jim Costello, who plans to run for the Ward 2 post, currently is in his second term on Council.

"It has been my privilege, and I am very proud to [serve on Council]," he said. "We work very well together, but we are not a rubber stamp group. We agree that we do disagree."

Councilmember John Wysmierski, who represents Ward 3, did not attend the press conference.

However, Wysmierski, who is in his eighth year on Council, plans to run for another term.

"I believe that there are some issues that are in the critical stages of being resolved, and I would like the opportunity to see them through," he said.

Councilmember Mary Bednar, in her first term, will run for the Ward 4 position.

"Being near Cleveland, we know that winning teams don't trade away their players," she said. "We have a winning team, and I'm asking the residents not to trade anyone. One of the things I have been committed to is trying to have a balance of economic development and [meeting] the needs of the residents. I really feel we have accomplished that, especially in Ward 4."

Councilmembers Ron Alexander, Janet D'Antonio and Sara L. Drew are running for at-large seats.

Alexander, who is in his 12th year on Council, said, "This Council works well together. It has been my pleasure to serve as an elected official in this community."

D'Antonio said, "I have thought long and hard about why I want to run. The reasons are the same as when I first ran 12 years ago. I just want to do the best job possible for the citizens."

Drew, who is serving her first term on Council, said, "People in the community want reasonable people on Council. I think we take problems as they come, and we manage the city as effectively as possible."

According to the Summit County Board of Elections Web site, the filing deadline for all candidates is June 13, 2007.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3947