Video: Guide to Election Day 2013

Portage County, which includes Kent, Streetsboro, Ravenna, Aurora, and other small townships and villages, is holding its fall elections today. Voters are deciding on several issues, including issues 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as electing three city-council-at-large members. Current mayor Jerry Fiala is running for mayor unopposed.

Here is a summary of the most important issues and profiles on the four men and women running for city council positions:

When and where to vote

Those who are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election can do so from 6:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. Polling locations closest to the Kent State campus include:

  • KSU Wellness Center, 1550 Ted Boyd Drive
  • Roosevelt High School, 1400 North Mantua Street
  • First Christian Church, 335 West Main Street
  • Presbyterian Church, 1456 East Summit Street
  • A full list of locations can be found at

Issues 1 and 2

Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities

Thousands of developmentally disabled Portage County residents are at risk of losing programs and resources if voters reject to renew two tax levies Tuesday.

The two levies, if passed, will provide about 43 percent of the total annual revenue for The Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The board provides services to disabled children and adults in Portage County, including programs at Happy Days School, Special Olympics and others.

Issue 1 is a five-year, 2-mills levy covering tax years 2014 to 2018. (A mill is one-thousandth of a United States Dollar.) It was first approved by voters in 1989 and has been renewed four times.

Issue 2 is a 10-year, 0.9-mills levy beginning in 2014 and ending in 2023. The levy was first passed in 2004 and is up for renewal for the first time.

If passed, business and homeowners will continue to pay for both levies. The renewals will not increase current taxes, which for a $100,000 home is about $57 per year.

The Board would lose nearly one-third of its total operating revenue if the renewals are denied.

Gail McAllister, director of children’s services at Happy Days School, said nonrenewal would cause immediate cuts to many of the programs and services that thousands of Portage County residents depend on. Some residents also would be required to be on waiting lists for services, which do not exist under the current levies.

“We could potentially have to close our school-age program and cut back services such as therapy and school nurses,” McAllister said. “I’m not sure what would happen, but I know we will experience large cuts.”

Cheri Michael’s 17-year-old son, Raymond, has attended Happy Days School since birth. Michael said the school has helped her son develop physical and communication skills.

“He’s a very social guy, and this environment brightens his day,” Michael said. “The building has speech, occupational, and physical therapies. Every day he’s receiving one of those services, and enhancing his abilities. This passage will be important for the rest of his life.”

Michael said she hopes community members can understand the needs of students like Raymond.

“I hope that if anyone doesn’t have a family member who has needed services, they will come ask questions and become aware of what these services do,” Michael said. “Once it touches your life, you’re forever impacted.”

McAllister said she understands that not everyone in the county is directly affected by the school’s services but hopes they will support the levies.

“We would all hope that most community members would not need to access our services, that they don’t have a child born with a disability, or deal with a traumatic brain injury,” McAllister said. “This is a necessary service provided in-county, and I would hope that community members will support it and never have to use it, but if they do, we have an excellent staff and expertise to help.”

— Drew Parker, city reporter


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Video by Jen Bellissimo

Issue 3

Mental Health and Recovery Board

The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County has helped serve 7,200 residents who needed assistance with mental health or addiction problems just in the last year.

Should Issue 3, a 10-year, 1-mill renewal tax levy pass, the board will continue to serve Portage County as it has since 1983.

“This levy is really critical to keeping local services strong for people,” said Amie Cajka, the director of community relations for the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County.

A homeowner whose home is valued at $100,000 will pay around $2.50 per month in property taxes for the levy.

Cajka said the levy will generate about $3.1 million for the board each year.

Services for adults, teens and children include one-on-one counseling, group counseling, intensive treatment for addictions and comprehensive care for those with severe mental illness.

“I think it’s more of a right to have these services than a privilege,” campaign manager Andrew Kluge said. “For me, I live in Portage County, and personally, I don’t know somebody who has been affected by any addiction or mental illness. But I think it should be there — just in case — for any Portage County resident to fall back on.”

— Audrey Fletcher, city reporter

Issue 4

Kent Police Department

As Kent locals stop by voting polls this election day, Issue 4 is one of the main items on the ballot that could affect either city income taxes or services.

Issue 4 proposes the city add a 0.25 percent income tax as of Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2038, to help pay for a new $18 million police facility for Kent. Police said if the issue fails, the city could face serious cuts in city services.

Kent Police Administrative Lt. Jim Prusha said this same issue was on last year’s ballot as Issue 11. He said the only difference between Issue 4 and 11 is that the former issue had no end date for the income tax.

“When the building is paid for, the income tax will go back to the 2 percent it was before,” said Kent Councilman Wayne Wilson, who helped volunteer campaigning for Issue 4 this year and last.

Prusha said he thinks a new facility is necessary for Kent’s Police Department, as the building is currently non-compliant with federal and state regulations.

Kent Police Lt. Mike Lewis said the jail, in particular, failed to meet more than 40 compliance standards with the state of Ohio alone. He said while the jail part of the police department is “grandfathered” into compliance because of its structural limits, it is a dangerous and risky work environment.

“What we have now will not work,” Lewis said. “It’s not working for us now, and it’s not going to work in the future. The only answer is a new building and police department and jail.”

— Megan Wilkinson, city reporter


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Video by Bill Hughes.

City council-at-large: 3 positions, 4 candidates

Council-at-large members represent the entire city of Kent, including taking responsibility of all legislative powers. Those elected will serve a four-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

oria Daniels, retired manufacturing information systems designer, Council-at-large

This isn’t Daniels’ first time running for city council, and after a 20-year hiatus to finish her business career, requests from citizens called her back to the ballot.

“I decided to do it myself because now that the downtown revitalization is nearly completed, our council needs to re-focus on capital improvements, many of which are neighborhoods and streets,” she said. “I’ve got a 30 year history of working with neighborhoods, I’m a Kent resident, I’m familiar with Kent needs and that’s why I have the strongest background of working with the neighborhoods.”

Should she be elected, Daniels said she wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to Kent, work with the university to stress technical jobs, and to work with neighborhoods, as well as seeing the city become more liquid in terms of their capital.

“Now that we are taking in a little more revenue off the income from downtown, I’d like to see the finances become a little more solvent and do some things that will improve our capital reserves,” Daniels said.

Mike DeLeone, machine operator, Council-at-large

DeLeone also currently serves on Kent’s City Council and has for the past 15 years. He has lived in Kent for his entire life, and served 38 years as a public service worker at Kent State and for Franklin Township.

“Just this year, the city allocated more than $200,000 to its streets and sidewalk budget to resurface more roads,” he said in a bibliography on League of Women Voters of Kent’s website, and should he be elected, he “will support further allocation to them.” DeLeone also said he will support hiring more personnel to help handle breaking of housing code and regulation issues.

Melissa M. Long, Senior advocate, Council-at-large

Should Long be elected to council-at-large, it will not be her first time serving the city government. She has served as a council person in a charter form of government in another Ohio city for 12 years and was elected mayor for four years. She has also served on Kent’s Planning Commission for seven years.

“During my years on the planning commission, I helped create good planning for the downtown expansion and re-writing the building code, (including) a new section that deals with health conditions of multi-family homes,” she said. “I want to be on the council so I can introduce legislation that will make Kent a better and safer place to live.”

Roger Sidoti, retired High School principal, Council-at-large

Sidoti currently serves on Kent’s council-at-large, but he said he believes there is still much work to be done and he would like to continue serving his community in this role.

“I am bringing some experience, if limited, in the technical operations of our city,” he said. “Most importantly, I think I bring a perspective that takes into account the greater good of all citizens.” If elected for another term, Sidoti said he would like to see a “laser-like focus” on establishing priorities for the budget, an increased emphasis on roads, sidewalks and neighborhood revitalization.

“I hope (citizens) trust my judgment and feel my commitment to our community,” he said. In the past, Sidoti has served on appointed boards and commissions while trying to be a good model for the young people of Kent.

“I believe raising a family here, supporting local businesses and social service agencies, and volunteering when possible may be even more important contributions than serving on city council,” he said. “In the end, good leadership is in the understanding that you can only lead if given the permission to do so by those you serve.”

— Caitlyn Callahan, city reporter