Aurora -- Although the mayor's race consumed most of the allotted time at last week's League of Women Voters of Northern Portage County candidates forum, the 100-plus attendees also heard from Council-at-large and Wards 1 and 5 candidates, and officials seeking passage of tax levies.
Telling the audience about themselves and answering a handful of questions were Council-at-large candidates Joe Kastelic, Amy McDougald, Lynn McGill and Scott Wolf, Ward 1 hopefuls Jim Vaca and Richard Duncan and Ward 5 hopefuls Kathi Grandillo and Jim Tasker.
McDougald said the city has a lot of positive things to brag about, "but we can be better." She stressed she favors less government invention into people's lives.
Kastelic said partnering with Bainbridge Township trustees to form a Joint Economic Development District and rezone the former Geauga Lake Park property is a huge project facing both communities.
Wolf sees developing a recreation center/swimming pool, connecting neighborhoods with sidewalks and bike paths and bringing in new businesses as major issues.
McGill said he believes new sidewalks can be installed using Councilmatic bonds, and he would like to see a new larger water tank be built and the private septic tank cleaning fee reduced.
In light of picket signs along Route 43 in front of Rotek Inc., the at-large candidates were asked whether they would uphold the city's sign regulations.
They all said they would, but they cautioned that the Rotek picket signs may be allowed under the First Amendment. Wolf stated he would have any signs in non-compliance with the city code removed.
All four of the at-large candidates also said they would work toward bringing to reality improving Aurora Lake Road. Wolf called the road " a horror show." Kastelic added "it's bad and a solution is needed."
IT WAS pointed out much of the road is on private property -- owned by the developer of Hawthorn of Aurora -- and city officials must work with that entity to make some progress.
The road would first have to be dedicated before the city could initiate any improvements plans and spend any money on it.
About the Rotek sign issue, Duncan called the unsightly signs and shacks "unfortunate, but those employees are fighting for their jobs." He said he believes the signs are a First Amendment right.
Duncan said he sees stormwater problems as a major issue in Ward 1, and he would work to resolve them. He also vowed to work to bring new businesses to town, and said he would like to see the way the city approves zoning issues amended.
Vaca pointed out the city has done a lot of work in recent years to improve drainage in Ward 1. He also vowed to work to bring about improvements on Aurora Lake Road. "It's a tough issue because it's a private road," he said. "It needs to be dedicated so the city can take care of it.'
Grandillo said she believes it's important for Council reps "to listen to what constituents say." She and Tasker both stressed the importance of economic development and working with Bainbridge Township trustees to bring about a successful mixed-use project at Geauga Lake Park.
Mayor James Fisher and Police Chief Seth Riewaldt spoke in favor of the 1.2-mill additional police levy that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, while Planning-Zoning-Building Director Rich Wehrenberg explained a rezoning request for a 0.67-acre lot on the north side of East Garfield Road.
Representatives also briefly outlined the two renewal levies for the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities and one renewal levy for the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
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