Summit County Executive
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way county government operates and interacts with residents, businesses and our 31 local communities. These changes require experienced leadership and I am the only candidate with the experience to lead Summit County during these trying times.
As County Executive and a County Council Member for several years before that, my record of accomplishments has proven to be both purposeful and productive.
I have been a champion for workforce and economic development. In my first term, my team re-engineered our economic development efforts to maximize the attraction of new businesses to our community while focusing on retaining and growing our local companies. Jobs from entry level through advanced skills will help our community thrive.
My work with Stark State College, along with others, gave rise to their new Akron Campus providing much needed training, education, and certification programs, enabling people to increase their income and job opportunities
My collaborative work with other communities to develop a consolidated computer-aided dispatch system will save Summit County and communities within the County more than $7 million while providing them with state-of-the-art technology.
As a national leader in the fight to hold the pharmaceutical industry responsible for the opioid crisis they created, I led Summit County to a significant settlement. Every dollar received in our settlement will go toward abating the opioid epidemic.
Since taking office in 2016, and previously as a member of County Council, I have engaged in civil discourse with my fellow officeholders, regardless of party affiliation. As County Executive, I will always make decisions based on what is best for the residents of Summit County, not what is best for a political party.
I have worked collaboratively with Democrats and Republicans alike because the people of this county are best served when elected officials work together to solve problems. This includes leadership from both sides of the aisle participating in joining me in filing a consolidated lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies as well as bipartisan participation in the CAD program. I am proud of my leadership in this regard and look forward to continuing to lead by example.
Since receiving federal CARES Act funding in March, my team and I have been focused on helping residents, businesses and our 31 local communities.
To date, we have created or supported the following programs with CARES Act funding:
Small Business Emergency Relief Grants: $7.8 million
Minority Contractor Capital Access Program: $1 million
Payroll Support Program for local governments: $17.8 million
COVID-19 Mass Testing: $1.4 million
CARES Rent, Mortgage and Utility Assistance: $13.5 million
Public School District Re-opening Grants: $7.3 million
Criminal Justice Integrated Technology Project: $6.5 million
We continue to work with the state and federal government as well as all 31 Summit County communities to clarify what we can use CARES funds for and we will identify areas where we can make a difference.
With the creation of the Summit County Jail Operation Advisory Commission in 2017, my office worked with the Sheriff's Office, the Prosecutor's Office, the Court of Common Pleas, and Oriana House to improve conditions at the Jail. Our work resulted in several initiatives that benefited both Sheriff’s deputies and inmates. We replaced 107 cameras and installed an additional 261, added NA and AA meetings along with religious services, restored library and gymnasium access and hired inmate services workers. These steps and others resulted in safer conditions and lower costs.
Additionally, in response to high numbers of retirement-eligible Sheriff’s deputies, I have been working with Sheriff Barry to recruit a new generation of deputies. Through a partnership with the University of Akron, my Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Means Jobs Center, we are providing scholarships through the University's police academy and focusing on recruiting a diverse pool of candidates. Candidates who successfully meet all requirements and graduate from the academy are guaranteed jobs as Summit County Deputies. Our first class was hired by the Sheriff's Office in January. This program is crucial to ensuring the Sheriff's Office maintains an appropriate staffing level at the Jail.
My staff works with the Sheriff’s staff, as well as the balance of the criminal justice system in order to effectively communicate the needs at the jail as well as system-wide.
In 2016, under my leadership, Summit County became the first county in Ohio to offer paid maternity and paternity leave to its employees. As a mother and as an elected leader, I am especially proud of this achievement. The data clearly show that the best place for a mom to be after giving birth is at home with her baby. I am hopeful that other communities and businesses will follow my lead in this area.
I have used my platform as County Executive to support infant vitality and maternal health initiatives and look forward to continuing to do so. Efforts like the City of Akron's Full Term First Birthday and Summit County Public Health's Better Birth Outcome are doing incredible work to lower our infant mortality rate. My office participates in both of these initiatives. They have made great progress in just a few short years, but work remains. I look forward to continuing to support the children and families of Summit County.
Medicaid expansion continues to be critical to providing access to quality healthcare and the work my staff does at our Department of job and Family Services where we enroll residents in this benefit is essential. Coupled with our collaboration with the major medical systems in our community, we stay engaged with new initiatives leading to better health outcomes.
As County Executive, I fully supported Council’s decision to declare racism a public health crisis and will support the Special Review Committee’s work to determine how to best promote racial equity in Summit County.
I have always believed the best way to support change is to look inward and evaluate my own actions. Since taking office, I have been committed to making sure Summit County’s workforce is diverse and inclusive, and our offices are a safe space for all employees. I am proud of the progress I have made in new hires, promotions and board appointments.
I know that I have much more work to do, however. I intend to use the next four years as County Executive as an opportunity to really listen to our Black residents and other minority community members. I will use what I learn from listening as the foundation for continued progress toward racial equity within Summit County government. I will also use my platform as County Executive to lead by example and encourage other public and private sector leaders to look inward and evaluate their organizations. Racial equity will only be achieved when all segments of our community commit themselves to real change. As County Executive, I will be a champion of this vision.