With fewer than four months to go before Oregon’s mayoral election, debate between the two candidates has heated up over business-development efforts.
Oregon City Council president Thomas Susor filed a petition with the Lucas County Board of Elections to face Mayor Michael Seferian in the Nov. 5 general election.
Mr. Susor, 64, who has been council president since December, 2011, said he wants to halt “20 years of missed opportunities” on the part of city government.
For two decades, Mr. Susor said, Oregon officials have failed to pursue business-development projects that would create commercial opportunities and benefit the city’s image.
For instance, he said, plans to build a Home Depot store on Navarre Avenue were dropped in 2002 after lengthy talks within city council over a rezoning request.
“We can’t afford to miss any more development opportunities,” he said.
Oregon’s main commercial corridor on Navarre, part of State Rt. 2, remains the city’s primary concern, Mr. Susor said.
The highway was widened in 1999 and 2000 from two lanes to five between Coy and North Curtice roads, and from four lanes to five west to I-280, because of chronic congestion. But Mr. Susor said inadequate landscaping and overhead power lines still impede business growth.
If elected, he said his priority would be to beautify Navarre by expanding “quality shopping” and “quality dining” venues. “I’m not afraid to make moves. I want to give our residents a city that we can be proud of,” he said.
Mayor Seferian, 55, noted that he has worked to develop industrial opportunities for the city, despite substantial funding cuts by the state of Ohio.
“We had to start out cautiously, but we’ve seen more industrial growth in the past three years than we have in a long time,” said Mr. Seferian, who defeated Mayor Marge Brown in November, 2009.
Mr. Seferian said he restored the city to solvency and strengthened the budget by combining services. This stability, he said, has allowed Oregon to initiate landmark projects such as the 800-megawatt, natural-gas-fueled power plant and the relocation of Cedar Point Road.
“Truth is, we locked in every opportunity we had and in record time,” he said.
If re-elected, he said he plans to revive city beautification initiatives that had been suspended because of tight budgets.
Meanwhile, the number running for council’s seven seats has shrunk with the appointment of Councilman Michael Sheehy to the Ohio House of Representatives to complete the term of Matt Szollosi, who resigned.
Mr. Sheehy, who had filed for re-election to council before he was appointed, officially dropped out last week, and his campaign committee is reviewing candidates to replace him on the ballot.
Council candidates now include incumbents Dennis Walendzak, Gerald A. Peach, James S. Seaman, Terrace E. Reeves, and Marvin Dabish, who was tapped to complete Mr. Sheehy’s term. Challengers Kathleen Pollauf and Timothy Zale also filed to run for council.
With the modest fields, no primary election is set for council or mayor in Oregon this year.