TWINSBURG — Local candidates had the chance to make their case before voters Oct. 21 at the 2019 Candidate Forum at R.B. Chamberlin Middle School in Twinsburg.
The event was hosted by the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce and the Twinsburg Council PTA.
Twinsburg has several seats up for election this year, including the mayor, one of the two at-large positions, the seats for Council Wards 1, 2 and 3, and two Board of Education seats.
Incumbent Mayor Ted Yates faces challenger Brian Steele, currently the Ward 2 councilman. The term starts Dec. 1.
Yates, whose two sons graduated from Twinsburg High School, outlined the "positive things about Twinsburg" during his term as mayor.
"We hosted the cost of freedom exhibit," said Yates, who is serving his first term as mayor. "Twins Day celebrated their 40th anniversary. We've seen just dramatic turnaround in the Chrysler plant. You've got FedEx, Amazon, O'Reilly getting ready to open up. There are multi-tenant buildings that are occupied and currently being leased. Ninty-seven percent of our industrial district is occupied, that's something I really worked hard on."
Steele said his experience on the Twinsburg police force and council, in addition to being a resident of Twinsburg for more than 35 years, make him qualified for the mayor's position.
"I know this city. I've seen how it all comes together," Steele said. "I've worked on the roads with the service department members. I've worked on scene of accidents with my fellow police officers and our firemen." He added he would work every day to rebuild our city's growing economy and replenish its dwindling city funds and create reserve accounts."
Incumbant Councilman Bill Furey faces challenger Michael A. Turle for the at-large seat in the general election.
Furey, who has lived in Twinsburg for nearly 30 years and has served on city council for 16 years, said he works hard "to try to do what I think is in the best interest of the city."
"The most current statement of cash for the city of Twinsburg ... from the close of September ... shows that our general fund rose from $8.3 million this year to over $10.3 million," Furey said.
There are "some things we need to work on," Furey said, such as "the retrofitting of the fire station."
"We need a new service garage because we've outgrown the one we have, with all the parkland that we've assembled: over 3,000 acres in the last 25 years. There comes a lot of maintenance with that, as well as the other facilities we have."
Turle, who said he was born and raised in Twinsburg, said the city needed to "reprioritize the direction the government is going." He said he would like to see the city lease the Gleaneagles Golf Course clubhouse, which was recently opened by the city, "or eventually sell it and get that off our budget."
"Everybody understands needs versus wants," Turle said. "You may want a nice, sporty two-seater Corvette but really need a minivan. It seems our wants and needs within this community seems like they're completely out of whack. We need a new fire station. Station one needs to be rebuilt because we got fumes going in there. We should actually have a third fire station because there was a study done that said that we need three stations."
Council ward seats
Daisy Walker is running unopposed for the Ward 2 seat. She is an R.B. Chamberlin High School graduate.
"I really have a great love for the city of Twinsburg," Walker said. "My daughter went to Twinsburg schools and now we have a third generation with my granddaughter going to the school system. It's such a wonderful city."
Ward 1 Councilman Sam Scaffide faces challenger Tim Clark.
Scaffide, who has been on council for 16 years, called the position "very rewarding."
"There are so many things that we have that are in our favor here, so many great things that we have in Twinsburg, and so many things that in the 16 years that I think that I could take some of the credit for," Scaffide said. "Things like all the amenities that we have, the services that we have, that we provide our residents here. From the the parks and recreation to the safety services police and fire, to the excellent service department and services, the free services, that we still provide: trash collection, branch chipping, leaf collection. Our taxes are low. We have one of the lowest tax rates. Our sewer rates are low, probably one of the lowest in the county of Summit County.
Clark said he was "a resident running for the residents," adding he "will strive to bring back our voice and our vote for the city."
"You should not have a handful of elected officials telling us what we are getting," Clark said. "We should be telling them what we want. I will work with council and the mayor to figure out how we can adjust the budget and pay off our debts. I also would like to lease the restaurant and banquet center, we can lose some large salaries incurred. I wish for a two-term limit on all voted positions and less running for a new position."
In Ward 3, incumbent Jo-Ann McFearin will face Laurie Sasala Facsina.
McFearin, a 26-year resident of Twinsburg, said she has "been a cheerleader and supporter of everything Twinsburg for years." She is serving her first term on city council.
"I'm going to continue to be asking questions, challenging answers and digging deeper," McFearin said. "We have our challenges ahead of us working to maintain the excellent services we all enjoy while being resourceful with the funds we have driving increased revenue through economic development."
Facsina was critical of the city constructing the Gleneagles golf course clubhouse, which cost about $6 million, "without your consent."
"Although essential services are awaiting capital improvements, we have paid officials who are not listening and not acting like civil servants," Facsina said. "In fact, one of those council persons gave up the ghost. They serve two masters, not only the city of Twinsburg but the Twinsburg Community Improvement Corporation. Ask yourself as taxpayers and citizens of Twinsburg: 'Am I being heard?'"
The general election is Nov. 5. Polls are open between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. However, the Summit County Board of Elections office will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 1, as well as from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 4, for voters to cast their ballots early.
For elections information, visit https://www.summitcountyboe.com online.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC