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Changes For Parma

Wednesday, November 5, 2003 at 1:38 PM

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Voters in Parma had their share of decisions to make in yesterday's election. As ideastream's Shula Neuman reports, the voice of the people was loud and clear.

State Representative Dean DePiero won the mayoral race in Parma with a 60 majority over long-time city council member Debbie Lime, The voter’s message, Depiero said in his acceptance speech, is that Parma is ready for change.

Dean DePiero: This will be an era of trust, an era of good government, an era of fiscal responsibility and an era of true change for our city. The ideas and ways of the past will be gone and a new era of change is here.

Change that starts with the police department, DePiero says. Voter disapproval of the police department’s apparent abuse of overtime and sick-time policy was obvious in yesterday’s vote. Parma residents turned down a levy to renew a police tax - for the second time this year. The rejection means the loss of $1.8 million for the department. DePiero says the first order of business is dealing with the lack of confidence in the police.

Dean DePiero: It has to be. The police levy’s very important and obviously making sure we put together a good budget for next year. It’s going to be a tough budget year without that $1.8 million, but we’ll go back to the voters and show them we have reforms in place and we’ll pass that levy for the citizens of Parma.

Creating a strong budget will also prove challenging to the mayor-elect since Parma voters rejected a quarter-cent income tax hike. However, the electorate did approve the creation of a city charter with 71% of the vote. DePiero says he plans to take an active role in forming the charter so residents embrace the proposal when it’s put before them next year. These changes appeal to voters like Scott Tuma. Tuma says DePiero provides the accountability the city needs, especially since he represents a change from the former administration.

Scott Tuma: I think it’s reached a level of disgust that hasn’t been reached in the city. and I really think that the people looked at the issues looked at who the candidates were and studied the charter issue and all the other issues including the police levy and made their decision based on honest, independence and knowledgeable decisions.

The defeated Candidate Debbie Lime agrees with that assessment. Lime says she’s sure DePiero will prove a competent mayor, but she’s disappointed that not quite half of the city’s registered voters turned out.

Debbie Lime: I think it’s part of the problem and I think that’s sad because if you have a community that has problems and has issues, it’s the responsibility of the residents within the community to get out and voice their objections or voice their vote because that’s what changes a community and that’s what sets the direction forward.

Still, the spirit of change was evident in the city council race. Of the nine council seats, five new members were elected. In Parma, Shula Neuman, 90.3.

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