Thirteen city council office-seekers sought Monday to highlight what makes them unique in an Oberlin Community Candidates Night debate at the First Church in Oberlin.
Of the crowded field, only candidate Scott Broadwell was absent. Moderator Alan Mitchell, executive director of Zion Community Development Corporation, said he could not attend due to a foot injury.
The Oberlin Community Candidates Night Committee, made up of 13 groups posed two questions to those running.
The first asked what the top priority should be for council in 2016 and 2017, and elicited a wide range of views.
Sharon Fairchild-Soucy said she wants to focus on energy efficiency, raising minimum wage, and continuing to enhance the downtown area.
Ronnie Rimbert and Kelley Singleton agreed that the city’s storm water utilities need to be addressed but Singleton also wants to work with Oberlin College more to improve the city.
Expanding the tax base in Oberlin is one area Don Bryant Jr. and Bryan Burgess want to review.
Candidates Dave Sokoll and Sharon Pearson both want to work with youth in the community to get them more involved in city government and help the Oberlin Schools.
David Ashenhurst wants to create a five-year plan to finish sidewalks and street projects, while Elizabeth Meadows is interested in enhancing economic development.
Communication among council members and city officials is a top concern for Linda Slocum, as is creating an orientation document for new council members.
Jeanne McKibben wants to have more public meetings and create a strategic plan to address local issues.
Peter Comings wants to update Oberlin’s strategic plan.
Eugene Matthews said each candidate’s idea can be achieved by using the city’s Climate Action Plan. He also wants to make city government more transparent.
The second question referenced the 2010 census, which showed Oberlin’s poverty at 20 percent, and asked what candidates believe should be city council’s role in addressing the needs of “Oberlin’s most vulnerable community.”
Candidates agreed the best way to help residents at or below the poverty line is by creating local jobs, providing bulk goods for residents, bringing in new businesses, creating houses for low-income residents, and offering public transportation.
None of the candidates said they were the best person for the job, but rather insisted they offer different views or skills to make up a strong seven-person council.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Thirteen candidates participate Monday in the Oberlin Community Candidates Night.