City Council voting guide

City Council elections are next week. The editorial board has put together a short list of candidates for wards 5 and 6, the wards that most affect campus. Take these for what you will, but, most importantly, vote on Tuesday.


Mike Pfahl

What does he do?

The Kent State alumnus is now assistant university counsel. He has lived in Kent for about 10 years, and plans on staying in the area — his dream job, as reported by the Stater is to be chief university counsel.

What are his goals?

  • Get opinions of residents and portray them on council
  • Bring back a sense of community
  • Strengthen the economy
  • Develop the city’s future

Our View: Pfahl has lived in Kent since his undergraduate days, and he’s stuck around with the goal of improving the city. While he could certainly relate to students more easily than his opponent because of his age and relation to the university, Pfahl’s goals aren’t defined. His goals are good, but he doesn’t provide any answers for how he will achieve them. Also, he’s never even voted in Portage County. For a person who’s lived here for 10 years, as well as one who is running for council, this is unacceptable. If he hasn’t cared enough about the city or county to even vote here, why should we vote for him?

Heidi Shaffer

What does she do?

The alumna of UC Santa Cruz’s sociology and community studies programs and Kent State’s journalism graduate program is now a yoga instructor and a member of steering committees and advisory groups.

What are her goals?

  • Promote City Manager Dave Ruller’s concept of “one Kent”
  • Improve housing inspections
  • Build up downtown business
  • Focus on building up the community

Our View: Shaffer has a strong sense of what the city needs and what she would need to accomplish her goals. Though she doesn’t have a background in politics, she seems to be in touch with the community. After all, a city is only a place where people live. It’s the people who live there who make the difference. Her goals and strategy show she is open-minded in her approach to fixing the problems within the community, from resident-student relations to downtown Kent.


Beth Oswitch

What does she do?

This self-defined “stay-at-home” mother is the current councilwoman for Ward 6. As councilwoman, one of her biggest projects has been promoting the reconstruction of the Crain Avenue Bridge. She supports the recently passed nuisance policy.

What are her goals?

  • Act as residents’ voices on council
  • Represent those residents in a fair and honest manner
  • Hold quarterly neighborhood meetings to keep residents updated and to hear their concerns
  • Encourage community and economic development without asking residents for money
  • Make neighborhoods safer and more attractive
  • Work to sell non-used city property
  • Continue to find ways to stop nuisance issues

Our View: Oswitch has the experience — which certainly counts for something — but does she have what Kent State students are looking for? The nuisance law which she supports doesn’t offer a fair warning policy, and the law will primarily affect students who live off campus. She says that she has fought for her residents, but we don’t seem to see much of a student voice in the City Council’s recent decisions. While communication is important for the council to have with its residents (her largest goal), we want to see more plans, more action.

Tracy Wallach

What does she do?

Among other things, Wallach is a member of both the Main Street Kent Steering Committee and Main Street Kent Design Committee. You may know her from class as she is a mathematics instructor at Kent State. She said the biggest issue facing Kent is economic development.

What are her goals?

  • Raise city revenues and encourage new businesses to locate in Kent
  • Support a vibrant arts community
  • Create an ‘Adopt a Block’ program
  • Keep student housing and noise in check
  • Improve on keeping residents informed
  • Keep changes to the neighborhood minimal in the Crain Avenue area
  • Help Kent become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly
  • Develop a stronger working relationship with Kent State

Our View: Although she has lost to Oswitch in the past, Wallach will offer what Oswitch can’t: daily interaction with students. As a university instructor, she will be working with students on a daily basis, and will be able to hear their complaints, comments and concerns. She wants to work with what Kent already has in order to revamp downtown and seems to have a plan of attack for the Main Street Kent program. Our student voices need to be an active part of that planning, and we think Wallach can provide that for City Council.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board. Rachel Abbey did not participate in the discussion.