NR Republican candidates for Council-at-Large seats meet with voters

North Ridgeville

By Michael Fitzpatrick

Don’t look now, but another election is right around the corner as the 2017 May Primary is in the offing.
Among the issues in front of North Ridgeville voters will be selecting three candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The four Republican candidates met for a candidates night forum on March 28 at the North Ridgeville library. Each of the candidates was given between three to five minutes to talk about themselves and why they’d be a good councilperson.

The Republican field is experienced and should result in a hotly contested vote. The field consists of current council President Kevin Corcoran, longtime councilwoman Bernadine Butkowski, local banker Martin DeVries and political newbie Michelle Hung.

Hung said since she announced she was running potential voters come up to her and ask her questions about city politics. Most of those center on the city contemplating building a public pool and the need in the city for a rec center.

“They’ll talk to you,” Hung said.

Hung made a splash in local politics in 2016 as she served as one of the main organizers in the county for the Trump campaign. She became interested in politics because of her concerns the federal government was pushing Common Core onto the school.

Corcoran pointed to his experience in city government and successful track record of helping bring businesses to the city, which started when he was a president of the Chamber of Commerce and has continued as he’s served on council, as a reason he should earn one of the three spots in the Republican May primary.

He cited WOW Cable coming to town as an example of his proactive stance when it came to attracting businesses, and it has paid off because consumers are saving money because there is a second cable company in town.

“I’m proud to have led that conversation and to help our residents save money,” Corcoran said.

He cited the recent additions of Lorain County Community College and businesses like Chipotle and Panera along Lorain Road and the new Riddell facility along Center Ridge as further evidence of his work with businesses.

“We still have work to do with business growth projected along Race Road and Beckett Parkway, Mills Road and further along Lorain Road. These additions to our city are important for our financial stability,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran also talked about his leadership skills – he’s served as president of the council and the chamber – and how the city’s streets and infrastructure funding has increased during his time on council.

Butkowski pointed to her experience as a reason she should earn a spot in the primary. She said the plan to widen Center Ridge Road, which is currently beginning, started in the 1960s when her father was a member of the Ridgeville political power structure.

“And now that it’s happening, I want to stay on council to be sure it is completed in the best way to improve the city,” Butkowski said.

DeVries, who has never been elected to office, cited his business experience and track record of community involvement as his strengths.

“I’m the vice president of the North Ridgeville Chamber of Commerce and I’m on the Board of Zoning, and I’ve done that for a long time, so, I’ve been pretty involved in a lot of groups,” DeVries said.

DeVries also pointed to his experience as a banker and working in business development as another strength.

“Right now is a critical point for North Ridgeville as we get the road expansion (Center Ridge) and new businesses coming in,” DeVries said.

Hung introduced herself during her short speech and talked a little bit about her role in the Lorain County campaign to support Donald Trump’s successful run for president. She said she’s running on a platform of pro-safety forces, pro-small business, pro-economic growth, pro-safe neighborhoods.

“We’ve got to give our safety forces all the support we can and I think Mayor Gillock has done a great job with that,” Hung said.

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