Residents left wanting answers after Ward 5 debate

Despite an hour and a half of debating Kent’s future last night, City Council candidates Michael Pfahl and Heidi Shaffer left residents wanting more answers.

The Democratic candidates for Ward 5 City Council squared-off at Kentway Apartments to discuss community issues, including downtown business growth, student and senior housing, and the city’s budget. About 30 residents showed up to watch the debate and submit questions.

Fred Daigneau, Kent resident and former small business owner, said he heard a lot of generalities about Kent’s problems, but not many specific solutions.

“I think Mike talked more about what he would do (for Kent),” Daigneau said. “That’s where Heidi fell a little bit short. Heidi talked a lot about City Hall and the Blue Ribbon Committee, but I didn’t hear her say ‘This is what I would do.'”

However, Pfahl mistakenly told the audience Leigh Herington, co-chairperson for the campaign committee for Citizen’s for Portage County Seniors, was against the senior levy.

In past Daily Kent Stater stories about the senior levy, Herington has voiced his support for the levy.

Vicki Kline, president of the League of Women Voters, said she would have liked to have heard commitments from candidates concerning the levy. Instead both Pfahl and Shaffer said they were not sure if they will vote for or against it.

“It is almost time to vote, they should know more,” she said.

Both candidates spoke about the importance of bringing small businesses downtown as well as adding a grocery store to the community.

Shaffer would like to add small neighborhood stores, while Pfahl wants to focus on supporting a grocery store so it stays in the community.

Shaffer said she would like to see more high-density student housing on campus.

“Once students live in high-density housing with a manager, there is less of a tendency for the abuse that happens when they are living unsupervised in a house.”

Pfahl also said the answer to unsatisfactory rental property is more housing-code enforcement.

Contact public affairs reporters Brianne Carlon at [email protected] and David Yochum at [email protected].