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Candidates for Summit County Executive Talk Economic Development, Public Safety

Summit County Executive Candidates Debate
Ilene Shapiro and BIll Roemer at October 19th debate

Republican Bill Roemer and Democrat Ilene Shapiro are running for Summit County executive. Shapiro currently holds the office, having been appointed to it this summer after the cancer-related death of long-time Executive Russ Pry, who also  was a Democrat. Bill Roemer, a former Summit County Council member, is trying to become the first Republican elected to the county’s top administrative job. 

Ilene Shapiro
She is a 10- year veteran of County Council and council president for the last three. Before her political career she was a local business executive.

Her campaign is stressing, among other things, continuity with the work of former Executive Pry. She says this will be especially true in the area of fiscal management of county and in aggressively responding to opiate addiction issues.

“We are working collaboratively with the 31 entities that are in Summit County to solve these addiction related problems. And, especially with that one, you need everybody at the table.”

Shapiro cites collaboration as a central strategy for running in the county.

She says she has a strong background in economic development from her work in the private sector and will help bring collaborative focus on jobs and work force growth for the county.

Shapiro says her long experience in the county legislature gives her the understanding of its many communities that are part of Summit County -- large, medium and small. And it gives her the ability to communicate at the local level.

“Having the ability to lead by bringing people together and conversations together about what advances the county as a whole, and then how to fit these fabrics together, I think that’s part of the county executive’s role.”

Bill Roemer
Republican Bill Roemer was also on County Council – from 2011 to 2014 – and was successful in private business before that. He has an MBA and is a certified public accountant.

He says his campaign has been heavily door-to-door, including in Akron, where more than a third of the county’s population lives

"Akron is the engine that drives the county, but you also need all of the ancillary parts. To have Summit County be successful, you have to make sure that you have economic development, and that citizens are properly support across Summit county.”

Noting that Summit County has done a good job of retaining major employers like Goodyear, he says not enough has been done with small business.

“About 80 percent of jobs are created at the small-business level, and not with Fortune 500 companies. If I am elected we will have a concerted effort retain, train and grow small businesses across the county.”

Roemer says he believes that the crisis with opiates that the county is now facing is amplifying a problem that has been developing with public safety. That’s because of the need to assist victims of addiction, and to combat drug dealing and associated criminal activity at the same time funding has been reduced for the Sheriff’s Department.

“I will work as diligently as possible to make sure the sheriff’s office is appropriately staffed.”

"As county executive, you have the ability to influence resources in the appropriate directions. We need an effective county executive who has the experience the expertise and the drive to retain and hire the best department heads and managers, and  lead the thousands of people who work for  county have the tools, desire and direction to serve the contituents.”