Mayor candidates want more city, university cooperation

Denise Wright

Hawksley, Fiala share similar goals

What the mayor’s position means to you

While Kent’s city manager structure makes the mayor’s position more of ceremonial figurehead, the mayor presides over council meetings and is able to break a tie vote. The mayor also acts as a promoter for the city and university.

Rick Hawksley, Democrat, Candidate for mayor

Related experience

Hawksley said his eight-year experience as an at-large councilman on Kent City Council has allowed him to make significant contributions and given him insight to carry over to the mayor’s position.

Aside from being on City Council, Hawksley also served as the president of the PARTA board in the early 1990s and is a current board member of the Community Action Council, an agency that helps operate programs and services for low-income residents of Portage County.

Hawksley said he also has a great deal of experience in leading community initiatives, as he was the co-founder of the Haymaker Farmers’ Market and PLACE, the Portage County land trust that recently merged with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

Vision for Kent

Hawksley said he thinks of the mayor as the “head cheerleader for the community.”

“The main role of the mayor is to help the community stay focused on the future,” Hawksley said. “We need to continually update our vision – that’s the first priority.”

One of the primary visions Hawksley has for Kent is furthering its economic development. Hawksley said creating a vibrant downtown and an overall community that is appealing to live in will, in turn, attract and retain new employers and residents.

Hawksley said council has been working hard to improve relations between the university and community members, and he would like to continue following through with that.

“I think it’s important to help all of our citizens understand what it means to live together,” Hawksley said.

Why you should vote for him

“I will continue to work to build bridges, to help educate, and to capture a common vision while finding creative ways to make it happen,” Hawksley said. “I’ve proven I can do that.”

Campaign Web site:

Jerry Fiala, Independent, Candidate for mayor

Related experience

Fiala said serving 14 years as the Ward 1 councilman and being appointed mayor for a year in 1997 has provided him with a great deal of knowledge about the mayor’s position.

Yet, Fiala said most of his insight comes from his years outside of Kent City Council when he was able to closely observe the needs of the community.

“I’m a lifelong resident of this city,” Fiala said. “Consequently, that gives me some insight as to where the city was, where the city is and where the city ought to be.”

Vision for Kent

Fiala said he considers himself to be a firm believer in economic development. He said making economic development a priority will provide the base to bring jobs and tax money into the city. He said ultimately this will make the city more “fiscally sound,” enabling the city to better services such as police and fire units.

“These are all things that citizens as a whole rely on, and we have to make sure that money’s there,” he said.

During his time as mayor, Fiala met with Carol Cartwright, former Kent State University president, to discuss the interaction between the city and university. Fiala said he would like to ensure that discussion continues with President Lester Lefton, adding that it would be important for the overall improvement of the community.

“I want Kent to be here for everybody,” Fiala said. “We need to make it a better blend for residents, students and the downtown.”

Why you should vote for him

“I never left Kent; it’s had everything that I’ve wanted,” Fiala said. “And I want to give back to the community – I want everybody else to feel like this is a warm home for them.”

Campaign Web site:

Contact public affairs reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].