Ballot to make city manager in charge of emergencies

Two issues on the City of Kent’s Tuesday ballot, if passed, will shift responsibility for military and emergency management from the mayor to the city manager and change the basic wording of the service director’s duties as well.

Issue 17 will add to the city manager’s responsibilities for purposes of military law and emergency management. Issue 18 will change the wording of the service director’s duties from “civil defense” to “emergency management.”

“The mayor is basically a figurehead (in Kent’s form of council/manager government). The city manager is the professional hired to run the day-to-day operations of the city,” said Jan Rusnack, member of the 2005 Charter Review Commission for the City of Kent. “The policing and emergency issues speak to the fact that it is the city manager who should take over in a crisis.”

The Charter Review Commission meets every 10 years to examine and propose changes to city council regarding Kent’s charter.

The amendment brought forth by Issue 17 will change the city charter to read that the city manager be “recognized as head of the City government by the Governor, other designated State of Ohio authorities, for the purposes of military law and emergency management.”

Dave Ruller currently serves as Kent’s city manager. The city manager is appointed based on executive and administrative qualifications.

John Fender is finishing his second term as the city’s mayor and is running unopposed for the office in the upcoming election. Eugene Roberts is Kent’s service director.

– Brian Andrasak