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Summit County Council District 5

Summit County Council Term commences: 01/01/21 Term of office: 4 yearsThe County Council is the eleven member legislative authority, taxing authority, and policy-making body of the Summit County government.

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    Veronica Sims

  • Richard Joseph Wilson

Biographical Information

1. Why are you the best candidate for the office?

2. In today's atmosphere of hyper-partisanship, how do you assess the ability of county government to move forward with meaningful legislation and how will you contribute to civil debate?

3. How will you ensure county government plays a role in helping residents overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and wisely uses its federal funding for this purpose?

4. Numerous changes have been made at the county jail to improve security, staffing and inmate conditions. What additional changes are needed? How would you make sure the jail is operating appropriately?

5. What solutions do you propose to address challenges in the healthcare system including maternal and child health?

6. The Summit County Council voted to declare racism a public health crises, What specific approaches would you employ to address diversity, equity and inclusion?

Education • Master in Public Administration, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, • Bachelor of Science, Political Science/Criminal Justice Minor in Sociology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio,
Training/Experience Over 25 year of Administrative Experience, Summit County Councilwoman - District 5, Former At-Large Akron City Councilwoman, Former At-Large Akron School Board Member
Current Occupation Director of Community Relations Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home & Cremation Service
I am a skilled public servant (former at-large Akron City Councilwoman and Akron Public School Board member) with more than 25 years of administrative experience and a proven record of dependable leadership. I exemplify a strong work ethic and an unyielding love and passion for Summit County, OH.

I pledge to continue to champion issues and concerns of the residents of Summit County /District 5. These issues include, but are not limited to, public safety, quality affordable housing, the environment, employment, neighborhood and economic development, efficient operations of County services, and initiatives aimed at ensuring that our Elder residents are able to remain and live optimally in their community.
From my vantage point it appears County government has done a good job of avoiding the deep dark pitfalls of hyper-partisanship. I personally will continue, and encourage my colleagues, to seek first to understand over being understood. Furthermore, I will always put the people of Summit County first and foremost in all that is said and done.

Challenging times no doubt require difficult conversations and decisions, but as I have contended in the past, passion that enters the discourse around important issues that affect our residents will and should occur occasionally. However, such passions must be tempered by a mutual dignity and respect for one another.

I am extremely proud of the way Summit County has responded to the emergent needs of the community during this unprecedented pandemic. Our use of CARES funds has been thoughtful, swift and intentional. Through the innovative thinking and creativity of the County Executive’s Office, County Council, and many extremely talented staff, we have been able to fashion a number of important initiatives to assist not only our residents but also small businesses, non profits, public health, and other critically important partners/stakeholders.

To date our Small Business Grant Program, in partnership with the Greater Akron Chamber, has awarded over $7.6 million dollars in grants to nearly 2,000 businesses. These awards will help to keep many afloat and position them for success on the other side of the current health crisis. Approximately $7.5 million has been provided for rent, mortgage and utility assistance for families facing possible eviction with an additional $5 million allocation expected at the end of October 2020. This program will enable thousands to remain safely sheltered in their homes. The aforementioned are just a couple of the extraordinary efforts that have gone forth. We will continue to stay engaged and vigilantly responsive to needs as they evolve.

I am extremely pleased with the changes that have occurred within the county jail as a result of the tremendous work of the Summit County Jail Advisory Commission. I believe that periodic monitoring is necessary to help ensure that changes are maintained at an optimal level and to provide for early opportunities to tweak changes if need be.

A number of significant things have already been accomplished thus far, i.e., appropriate staffing adjustments, camera installations, gym and library operational just to name a few. I look forward to the mental health needs raised in the report being addressed, i.e., increased services and beds for the mental health unit.
There are numerous challenges within our current healthcare system that need addressing sooner than later – most at the federal level. To speak to them all would take more than the space allotted. However, since this question specifically addresses the challenges of maternal and child health I would like to discuss a few startling concerns. There are zip codes within the district I represent (District 5) that rank among the highest in the nation for black infant mortality. Equally as alarming are the concerns relative to black maternal health. According to the CDC black women are 4 x more likely to die from pregnancy related complications and 49% more likely to deliver prematurely than their white counterparts. Increasing earlier access to prenatal care and more required cultural competency education and training for healthcare workers would go a long way. Additionally, I would be very interested in allocating more resources for community health workers who can help to mediate the navigation of systems and be of great support to pregnant moms and supportive dads.
I am proud to have introduced historic legislation a few months ago, receiving support from my colleagues on council, declaring racism a public health crisis in Summit County. I look forward to the work ahead of championing both public discourse and legislative/public policies aimed at the dismantling of racism in our County both structural and systemic. I further look forward to working side by side with our numerous municipalities and townships to help be both a bridge and partner in the work that they endeavor to undertake to help make their slice of Summit County free of oppressive ways of being and doing that inhibits a optimum quality of life.
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