Political Accountability

The political culture of Fairlawn is ossified, with little change or challenge. Of note, Fairlawn’s mayor, Bill Roth, has been in office since 1996! In that time, he has seen only one challenger at the ballot box. UPDATE: Mayor Roth made the unusual announcement that he would retire mid-cycle and gave 2 weeks notice that he would retire effective December 1, 2022. Taking Roth’s place is Russell T. Sharnsky, previously the president of City Council, first elected in 2007.

The city council is similarly stagnant. With six wards plus an at-large council seat, 4 of seven council members have held their seats for more than a decade, and given the current terms, 5/7 will have been in their seats for more than a decade at the end of 2021.

As of this writing, the average tenure for council members is 9.4 years, and assuming the current council remains in office through 2023, that average will rise to 12.8 years at the end of 2023.

There are 7 seats on city council, and each term lasts 4 years. Council seats are elected in odd-numbered years; with the at-large seat, wards 2, 4, and 6 in one election, and wards 1, 3, and 5 in the alternating odd-numbered years. With council seats being up for election 29 times since 2001, there have been only 7 competitive races, and only 3 challenges to an incumbent.

Think about that — a seat on the Fairlawn City Council is essentially a ‘safe-seat’. If you can get elected, there is about a 90% chance that you will never face a challenger. Several council members have NEVER faced a competitive election.

What has YOUR council person done for you lately? When was the last time you heard from them – other than to ask for your vote?

For reference, here are your Fairlawn City Council members.

  • Jonathon Groza, At-Large – Appointed by Council in 2022 (Term Ends: 12-31-2023)
  • Joseph V. Gentile, Jr., Ward 1- Elected in 2021 (Term Ends: 12-31-2025)
  • Barbara Potts, Ward 2 – Elected in 2003 (Term Ends: 12-31-2023)
  • Todd Stock, Ward 3 – Elected in 2017 (Term Ends: 12-31-2025)
  • Phillip Brillhart, Ward 4 – Elected in 1999 (Term Ends: 12-31-2023)
  • Michael Detorakis, Ward 5 – Elected in 2017 (Term Ends: 12-31-2021)
  • Kathleen Baum, Ward 6 – Elected in 2011 (Term Ends: 12-31-2023)

What do you think of Fairlawn’s government?

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