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Perrysburg council fills law director vacancy

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Mathew Beredo takes office as law director on Monday. He replaces Peter Gwyn.

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Mathew Beredo, a partner with the Cleveland law firm of Baker and Hostetler, is Perrysburg's new law director.

City Council hired Mr. Baredo on a 6-0 vote at its meeting last week, following a recommendation from Mayor Nelson Evans. Councilman Joe Rutherford was absent.

Mr. Beredo, 35, lives in Lakewood, Ohio, with his wife, Bridget, and their two sons. He will begin his duties Monday. He'll be paid $87,000 annually plus benefits.

He said he plans to relocate to Perrysburg as soon as possible. Under terms of his hiring, he has a year to become a city resident. His wife will work for the University of Toledo as a librarian, he said.

At Baker and Hostetler, Mr. Beredo was involved in litigation involving several Fortune 500 corporations. His work has included representing clients against discrimination and wrongful-termination claims under state and federal law.

His bar admissions include the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He also is a member of the litigation sections of the Cleveland Metropolitan and Ohio Bar associations.

He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan law school. Before joining Baker and Hostetler, he did a stint with the law firm of Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey.

Mr. Beredo is active in civic groups, including the United Way of Greater Cleveland, where he sits on the organizational assessment committee, the panel that evaluates groups for funding.

Twenty-six applicants expressed interest in the law director's position, which became open with the April 30 retirement of Peter Gwyn. Perrysburg Prosecutor Martin Aubry has been filling in since then.

In other business, council was briefed by one of its former members, Kim Klewer, on recommendations for changes in the municipal charter, the city's governing instrument. The proposed amendments, if accepted by council, could appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Mr. Klewer, who chairs the city's Charter Review Commission, said the panel recommended changing the way candidates qualify to run for electoral office and the requirement for a council primary election.

A would-be candidate now must collect a number of signatures of registered voters equal to 2 percent of the votes cast in the most recent general election. The commission recommends changing this requirement to a flat 50 votes, a move that would put Perrysburg in line with other small cities and is the minimum set by Ohio elections law. The current requirement can involve collecting hundreds of signatures, Mr. Klewer noted.

Perrysburg currently must hold a primary when the number of candidates for elective offices is in excess of two times the number to be elected. The commission recommended requiring a primary only when the number of candidates is in excess of three times the number of open seats, thus reducing the number of primaries and saving money.

The same primary requirement holds for the mayor's office, but the commission did not recommend a change here. Four primaries have been held in the past decade - two each for council and mayor.

Mr. Klewer said the commission also debated whether to change the process for filling the mayor's seat should it become vacant. This occurred in 2005 when Mayor Jody Holbrook resigned and council president Tim McCarthy left his council seat, as the charter required, and became mayor. In November of that year, current Mayor Nelson Evans was elected. Mr. McCarthy had two years remaining in his term, and would have lost his seat if council had not decided to leave it open. He then was reappointed in January, 2006, after Mr. Evans took office.

Mr. Klewer said the panel voted 4-3 against recommending a change but felt this was a good subject for consideration.

The commission also recommended clarifying the duties of the clerk of council and finance director, a joint position held by Dave Creps, and requiring that the law director report to the city administrator.

In other action, council approved two $19,000 downtown improvement grants: one at 112 Louisiana Ave. and another at 122 W. Front St.

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