Akron Mayoral Candidates Debate at Quaker Station
by Nick Castele
The two major party candidates for Akron mayor debated their visions for the city’s future Tuesday. It’s the city’s first mayoral race in decades without an incumbent, after the resignation earlier this year of longtime Mayor Don Plusquellic.
Republican attorney Eddie Sipplen and Democratic Summit County Clerk of Courts Daniel Horrigan both said they’d work to revitalize Akron’s downtown. But while Horrigan supports building an arena near the University of Akron, Sipplen opposes it.
Horrigan said he would grade his administration’s performance with numbers—measuring how much the city had benefitted residents. And he said he’d draw on his experience in the clerk’s office to manage city finances.
“That's taking a top-down look, and taking a look under the hood,” Horrigan said. “Which, immediately after the election, I’ll empower 12 to 15, maybe 20, business, civic minded people to take a look under that hood, and to find out where we can partner better.”
Reinvesting in the city’s neighborhoods is a primary concern for Sipplen.
“The crime rate here in Akron is not because people want to be criminals,” “Sipplen said. It’s a sign of their desperation, of trying to say, ‘Hey, we need help. We need investment in our communities.’ When I reviewed the city’s financials, you’d hear, read where it says, ‘Neighborhoods are the priorities.’ Well, the neighborhoods have not been the priorities.”
He said Akron may have to rethink city-owned amenities, like its golf course and the Akron-Fulton Airport.
“We’ve got some tough choices to make,” Sipplen said. “They’re not impossible choices, but we’re going to have to tighten our belts and make some tough choices, and pare things down basically to what the city needs, and not what we want.”
Horrigan said cuts alone would not be enough to boost Akron's budget.
“Austerity’s only going to get you so far, you’re going to need revenue growth,” he said. “Whether that’s in fee increases or whether that is in something else, the city is going to have to grow its revenue. I’d like add by the supply side, by adding jobs, adding to the tax base.”
One independent candidate Bill Melver, a management consultant will also be on the ballot when voters head to the polls in November.