The Erie County Business Political Action Committee endorsed four candidates this week in the Sandusky city commission race: Dick Brady, Dennis Murray Jr., Scott Schell and Naomi Twine.
The business PAC left out one candidate: Commissioner Diedre Cole. The PAC only considered candidates whose names will appear on the ballot.
Cole is a write-in candidate. If residents want to re-elect her they will need to "place an "X" in the circle and write-in her name, "Diedre Cole."
My recommendation is for voters to place an "X" in the circle and write in "Diedre Cole" in the space provided.
Cole's write-in status makes it a greater challenge for her to get re-elected, but her nearly four years on commission make her a worthy candidate nonetheless. She was part of the successful 2010-11 city commission term, and since then she's refused to sit back silently while the current majority coalition on commission moved like a school of blind fish swimming aimlessly the last two years.
Cole fought to right the wrongheaded approach the police chief search committee took before it finally chose John Orzech to be police chief. She took enormous heat for that from other commissioners. If you're pleased Orzech is the police chief, commissioner Wes Poole and Cole are the only commissioners to thank for that.
She also has stood against the majority coalition on commission and attempted to hold city manager Nicole Ard accountable for skipping finance committee meetings, for cobbling together a 2013 city budget that did not address the city's fiscal challenges and for fouling the disciplinary and termination processes for city employees that has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in less than two years. For city employees, getting fired by Ard seems to equal to job security.
While members of the majority coalition continue struggling to finish a performance review of Ard that was due 10 months ago, Cole submitted an exhaustive report on the deficiencies she sees that detail Ard's shortfalls and includes an action plan for improvement. Poole, who is in the middle of his first term on commission, also already completed the task, also submitting a review critical of Ard's job performance.
So here's who I will vote for Nov. 5: Dennis Murray Jr., Dick Brady and an "X" in the circle writing in "Diedre Cole" in the space provided on the ballot.
Murray is the most experienced legislator among all the candidates, having served on city commission as ex officio mayor and also two terms in Columbus as a state representative. His demeanor is patient, thoughtful and deliberate and he will serve the city well if elected. He also should be appointed ex officio mayor — again — if he wins, based on that legislative experience.
Brady will bring a businessman's experience and perspective to commission and he knows the challenges the city faces. He will be a good steward of taxpayer dollars and understands how important it is to seize every opportunity to expand the city's and the region's reputation as a world class destination place. He's shown he can listen to residents and business leaders, hear them and act upon the many important issues the city faces.
That's who I'm selecting Nov. 5 — Murray, Brady and an "X" in the circle writing in "Diedre Cole" in the space provided on the ballot — but voters would be wise to also consider Twine and Schell based on the endorsements from the PAC, which was started in 2006.
The PAC chairman, Allen Nickles, a Sandusky business owner and CPA, has volunteered his services to the city for more than three decades. He knows more about the city's budget and its finances than anyone. The other members of the PAC are Lee Alexakos, a Cedar Fair vice president; Sharon Barnes, owner of Barnes Nursery; Bob Hower, owner of Lee's Chicken; John Pheiffer from the Battery Park marina; and former ex officio mayor and business owner Craig Stahl.
That's a stellar pro-business slate of people whose opinions are very much worthy of consideration. The best path to addressing the city's challenges is prosperity, and all the individuals on the PAC committee have the business experience to know the paths to prosperity. They know prosperity brings jobs, and jobs will solve many, even most, of the problems the city faces.