Council hopefuls outline city goals

Candidates tout student, resident link

Voters will be able to choose three of these five candidates for at-large positions on Kent’s City Council.

Michael DeLeone

At-large council member candidate, Democrat

Councilman Michael DeLeone has been on Kent City Council for 12 years. The city council has made positive improvements for the city of Kent and to the downtown, and he knows that he can help improve more if he is reelected. ?

“We have done a lot of positive development,” he said. “There are other people and businesses we could help. Plus, I know many of the people and residents that live in Kent.”?

DeLeone said he thinks his experience will set him apart from other candidates.

?”I think mostly because of my experience,” he said. “I am a honest guy, and I help people get through the red tape of city government. I am a good listener and help solve simple problems for the people that call me.”?

Though students are often seen as an issue, he said he thinks the students and the residents can get along in the future.?

“We are a college town and a destination,” he said. “Though we have new students that come every year, we need the students to respect the residents, and the residents to respect the students.” ???

– Carolyn Fertig

Vic Hart

At-large council member candidate, Democrat

Vic Hart is running for council to help use the university as a way to bring more business to Kent.?

This is not the first time Hart has run for a council-at-large position. He came in fourth in 2001, but there were only three positions available.

Hart grew up in Kent and wants to bring back the city he knew as a child.

“I remember Kent as a kid,” he said. “Friday, Saturday night was wall-to-wall people. It was a destination. We need to create the atmosphere and make this city a destination again.”??

Hart’s family has a long history of political offices in Kent, too.

“I think it’s important that every citizen does some form of civic duty,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that I want to do it as a career.”??

Hart thinks the university and Kent will thrive if the city tailors business to the university.

“It’s ridiculous that we don’t tailor business to the university,” he said. “It’s crucial that we understand that the students are the future and will help and make the city thrive.”

-Carolyn Fertig

Drew Smith

At-large council member candidate, Independent

Drew Smith doesn’t have the political experience his opponents do. For this reason, he said people should vote for him for City Council member at-large.

“I’m not doing it for the politics of it,” Smith said “I’m doing it because I live in the community, and I have some concerns about how I feel the community can be bettered as a whole.”

Smith, who works for Northeast Ohio Cardiovascular Specialists, said he decided to run because he’s concerned with some of the issues in Kent, mainly the relationship between students and residents.

As a long-time resident of Kent and former Kent State student, Smith said he can bridge the communication gap between the two groups. He wants to see more students and residents at City Council meetings. There is a city-university liaison committee, but Smith said they meet at a time that isn’t convenient for students. He would like to improve it so students can become more involved and have a chance to voice their concerns.

“It seems like there is a lot of animosity between students and the city,” he said. “There are so many other college towns where that’s not the case.”

– Brittany Moseley

Robin Turner

At-large council member candidate, Democrat

Councilman Robin Turner has been on the council since 2008, after being appointed when another council member passed away.

Even so, this is not the first time Turner has run for office. He ran for Ward 3 councilman in 1991 and mayor in 1993 but lost both times.

Turner has been a resident of Kent since he was 4 years old and said he knows a lot about the city of Kent. ?

Turner said he thinks local government can affect many lives in a big way. He encourages students to exercise their right to vote in this election and others.?

“I think most students should know that it’s important to vote as citizens of a democracy,” he said. “It is important to participate. It can affect the quality of life and the people that surround you. It gives you voice.”?

Turner said one of the best assets to the city of Kent is the university. ?

“I don’t know what Kent would be without this university,” he said. “The students bring an intellectual benefit and diversity to the community. All citizens of Kent need to understand that the university is the pride.”???

– Carolyn Fertig

Erik Valenta

At-large council member candidate, Independent

Erik Valenta said he’s running for City Council member at-large for one reason: He loves Kent.

“It’s a unique opportunity to help forward the city to where it needs to be,” Valenta said. “I think we’re a university town, and we need to bridge the gap. It’s already been bridged, but we need to continue and foster that relationship between the university and the city.”

Valenta, a Kent resident for 10 years, is a professional writer and owner of Fantasy Champions LLC, a sports information firm that covers professional football. Valenta said his main goal, if elected, is to get the downtown development completed.

“I think the downtown is the heart of a city,” Valenta said. “What we need to do is make sure our downtown is a place where other areas want to come.”

Another important issue for Valenta is the city budget. When he worked in the banking industry, he was able to lower his company’s long distance call charges from 75 cents a minute to 5 cents. Even small things like that can save a community money without cutting jobs and services, Valenta said.

He said he wants the downtown to be completed in order to help revitalize current businesses and attract new ones. The downtown development also has a personal cause for Valenta.

“In 13 years, I want my kids to sit here and say, ‘You know what, I’m from Kent, Ohio. It’s a great town. Somebody should go visit it,'” he said.

-Brittany Moseley