New Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro Looks Back at Russ Pry, and Ahead to November
Over the weekend, the public had a chance to say goodbye to Summit County Executive Russ Pry at a memorial service in Akon. Pry died two weeks ago from colon cancer. Late last week, Summit County Democrats picked interim County Executive Ilene Shapiro to fill out the remainder of Pry’s term, which runs through the end of the year. Shapiro had been council president. She says she and Pry had a close working relationship.
“He didn’t need the fanfare. Everybody who worked with him thought of him as a friend.”
Shapiro remembers working with Pry on initiatives she’s very proud of, such as Conexus, a workforce program, which she says changed how Summit County delivers training to citizens. Shapiro also cites the Goodyear development project, the Bridgestone project, as well as First Things First, an early childhood development program.
She says her decade in county government has prepared her for her new role, but the bigger transition is for county staff who are still grieving over the death of Russ Pry.
Government doesn’t shut down
But the business of the county moves on, and Shapiro is looking to make progress on more workforce training and diversity inclusion programs. As county executive, she plans to use what she says is an entrepreneurial mindset and retrofit corporate best practices into government.
Why not retire?
At age 69, Shapiro has already spent decades in the private sector with FirstMerit and Summa. She says she wants to continue in county government because it gives her the chance to make a difference, adding “I am going to burn out before I rust out.”
Shapiro has been picked by Summit County Democrats to run for a full-term on this November's ballot against Republican and former County Councilman Bill Roemer. The County Democrats will decide this week who should fill Shapiro’s At-Large Council seat.