Councilman Hawksley announces mayoral bid

Jenna Staul

Democrat the only candidate seeking office so far

A Kent city councilman formally entered the race for city mayor, officially becoming the first candidate for the office.

Rick Hawksley, a Democrat and seven-year member of council, filed his mayoral candidacy petition Jan. 28, according to the Portage County Board of Elections.

Jerry Fiala, former mayor and councilman, also announced plans to run for the office as an independent. Fiala says he is gathering more signatures and will file his paperwork at a later date.

Hawksley said he made the decision to run after learning that current mayor John Fender will not seek re-election.

“I thought it was important that someone with some council experience should run,” Hawksley said. “I spoke to some fellow council members who have served longer, and they weren’t interested. So I went for it.”

Hawksley said if elected, he would like to spur further economic development in the city.

“We need a wide range of employment opportunities,” Hawksley said. “We’ve got to work with our (joint economic development districts) and bring in employers and leverage the resources of the university.”

Hawksley and four other council members appeared on the city’s first recall election ballot in January. The effort to remove the members from office failed, and Hawksley said the recall did not discourage his decision to run for mayor.

“I had known for two years that John (Fender) wasn’t running, so it wasn’t a brand new decision,” Hawksley said. “It’s a major sacrifice of time to run.”

Hawksley was elected to council in 2001 and will complete his second term in December. He owns a Kent-based architecture firm, Design with a Vision, and has lived in the community since 1975.

“I’m very interested in policy making,” Hawksley said. “I want to keep focused on the city’s future and not just micromanaging the staff.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jenna Staulat [email protected].