Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

The Exponent’s guide to the 2023 November Election

Benjamin Michael Hall
Yard sign promoting voting Yes on Issue 1 on the Baldwin Wallace campus

The Local Angle

*Denotes Incumbent

Berea Municipal Court Judge

Candidates: Michele Lynch vs. Sean Kilbane

As presiding Judge Mark Comstock, the longest-serving judge of the Berea Municipal Court, enters retirement, voters will decide between Sean Kilbane and Michele Lynch to serve as the Municipal Court Judge over Berea, Brook Park, Middleburg Heights, Olmsted Township, Olmsted Falls, the Metroparks and the Ohio State Highway Patrol for the next six years. One of the major issues facing the court is budgetary issues. Kilbane said that while the Berea Municipal Court serves many localities, the fiscal responsibility often falls on the Berea community. Comstock said he wants the court to modernize, and both Lynch and Kilbane seek to find ways to improve fiscal efficiency through modernization. They both wish to maintain safety in the area, and Lynch said that focusing on mental health issues, substance abuse and preventing recidivism are all ways she hopes will protect the community. Kilbane has been working in law since 2014, and Lynch has worked in the profession for almost 25 years. Kilbane is currently an Assistant Prosecuting attorney in the Criminal Division’s Major Trial Unit, and Lynch now works as an attorney for the Chapter 13 trustees office who handles bankruptcy cases. Kilbane has worked in criminal law throughout his time, and Lynch has worked in criminal and civil litigation, which she said will serve her well in the diverse functions of the court

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Clerk of Municipal Court

Candidates: Johanna Hamrick vs. Joseph DeMio vs. Micahel

The Clerk of Courts handles the court’s business functions, and voters can vote between Joseph DeMio, Michael Gammellaor Johanna Hamrick as the Clerk of Court for the next six years. DeMio is currently the Councilman at Large for the city of Strongsville and has over 25 years of experience in the court system, working as a bailiff for over 20 years. DeMio said that his plan for the budget issue is to work more closely with the State Attorney General to take the burden off of the city. DeMio also said he wants to find ways for the court to improve collections through modernizations and different payment plans. Gammella is the former mayor of Brook Park and former Union President of the United Auto Workers Local 1250. Gammella said that he hopes to bring in some help to address the budget issue and said that he has experience in crisis management. Gammella said he has experience serving the community and hopes to bring his experience to a more modern court. Hamrick is the President and Senior Management Executive of CSI Holding, a business located in Berea and the Business Development Director of VFB, a veterans non-profit organization. Hamrick said that her business experience will help her as Clerk of Court. Hamrick said that with people retiring and working on collections, implementing fees and various other methods, she could improve the budget.

Ward 1 Councilmember

Candidates: Jonathan Montag vs. Leon Dozier Sr.*

Leon Dozier Sr. and Jonathan Montag, running as the only opposition candidates for Berea’s City Council, would represent Ward 1 for the next two years. Ward 1 includes parts of Front St., Baldwin Wallace University and the Cleveland Brown’s training facility. Montag said he is running against the incumbent because he wants to improve communication between residents and the City Council, which he said has been lacking in the ward. Both candidates said that improving infrastructure in the area to help against flooding problems is a goal that they have. Both candidates also said that as Ward 1 houses the Browns training facility, they want to ensure that any new properties that the Browns purchase take the current residents into consideration

Member of Board of Education

Candidates: Steve Cika Jr. vs. Cori Farris* vs. Larry Gabbard vs. Katie Michal Candidates (to fill resigned seat): Rick Mackvs. Keith Simmons

School boards carry out the functions of setting school policy and hiring the treasurer and superintendent. Cori Farris, Katie Michal and Rick Mack are a part of the Tri-City Ticket, symbolic of the Tri-City representation of Berea, Brook Park and Middleburgh Heights. Opposing candidates Steve Cika, Larry Gabbard and Keith Simmons are a part of the “vote4abetterbcsd” ticket, which stands for bringing
about a better Berea City School District. One of the recurring themes in school board
meetings in recent years is the politicized nature of the concerns expressed by parents and community members. The candidates who spoke to the Exponent all see the politicization of school board meetings as negative, but Gabbard said it is not just the politicization of the school board meetings but that there is possibly an indoctrinating ideology in the schools that does not provide space for dissenting opinions. On the campaign website for the “vote4abetterbcsd” platform, critical race theory is defined as a problem and the website says that “school curriculum has increasingly been infested with disastrous woke ideology. Our children are being ‘groomed’ by radical influencers without the parents’ knowledge.” However, Farris said the idea of indoctrination results from manufactured issues promoted by politicians. Among other school districts, Berea City Schools saw a decline in their
standardized test scores. Since in-person schooling, the school has begun climbing
again, but “vote4abetterbcsd,”along with members of the Tri-City ticket, said that they want the scores to keep trending upward.

State-Wide Ballot Initiatives

Issue 1:

Issue 1 is an amendment to Ohio’s constitution that
would enshrine the right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions” in the Ohio Constitution. This would include rights to abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care and continuing pregnancy decisions. This bill would still allow restrictions on fetal viability by the state to a degree but only when it does not harm the pregnant patient’s life. If the amendment fails to pass, it is possible that in the future, abortion could be banned even in cases of rape, incest or risk.

Issue 2:

Issue 2 aims to legalize cannabis in Ohio and apply regulations on marijuana that would treat it the same as alcohol. The initiative will “legalize and regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products to
adults ages 21 and up” as well as “home grow for adults ages 21 and up with a limit of six plants per person and 12 plants per residence.” However, the initiative
still allows employers and landlords to place limits on their employees and residents.
Representatives of the initiative say that it will have many benefits to the economy, such as over $400 million in revenue each year which will, in part, disperse throughout the community in a social equity and jobs fund along with funding for addiction and drug abuse treatment programs.

Local Ballot Initiative

Issue 5:

Issue 5 is a tax that would increase funding for Cuyahoga Community College. The issue would renew an existing property tax of 2.1 mills and usher in an increase of 0.4 mill for each $1 of taxable value to contribute towards operating costs for educational services. This means that per $100,000 of property taxes, the residents’ taxes would increase by $14 a year to support education funding.

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