AKRON, OH - Although there was no set theme, you could say the unofficial theme of this final Akron mayoral debate between Republican attorney Eddie Sipplen and Democrat Summit County Clerk of Courts Dan Horrigan was about leadership and getting things done in the city.
“The city is in need of leadership. I plan on providing that. Party affiliation never made a difference,” Horrigan told a crowd of about 200 people at the Akron Press Club.
“I will be a leader: a leader is more than a manager, a leader gets input from all of the people around him,” Sipplen said.
Both also talked about bringing back trust to the city's top job.
With a resignation and a scandal both at city hall in the past six months, Horrigan and Sipplen say the voters have to feel that the next elected mayor is someone who will restore integrity.
“It is about that respect for other people's opinions and how they are involved in the process; and restoring that starts with that dialogue and starts with that level of respect which I’ve been practicing for the last 15 years,” Horrigan said.
“By being the mayor I make city hall better. What I learned a long time ago is the man at the top shapes the character of the people below him,” Sipplen said.
But whoever is elected mayor, voters say that person has to show good leadership. The city has a big budget deficit and infrastructure problems and the next mayor must address these.
Both candidates fielded questions about improving the city's water quality and sewers.
They also talked about improving roads.
But tops on the list: creating jobs and economic development downtown.
“What about creating a family environment?” Sipplen said. “A walking zone? I plan to invite the arts community to redevelop and revision downtown so we can create vibrant commercial slash residential district.”
“When people are downtown there is that vibrancy. When people have a reason to live downtown and that’s creating those opportunities to do it that does create jobs,” Horrigan said. “I wouldn't mind seeing another crane downtown here, that shows you are moving forward, that you have a plan to move forward and you do have people at the table.”
This is the last debate between the two before the November election.
And after three mayors in six months, the biggest thing that Akron voters want is stability at the top.
A third candidate, independent Bill Melver was not a part of this debate.
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