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Akron mayor candidate gives voters a choice
DENA REEDY Review Staff
, Staff Writer
Choice. That is the main reason Greg Fitzpatrick is running for Akron mayor.
Fitzpatrick is running as an Independent in the November general election. He will be challenging longtime Republican Mayor John McBeth, who is seeking his third term.
The local business owner was sitting quietly back in his corner of the borough when he was approached by half a dozen well-known, long-time residents, former councilmen and former presidents and three active council members to run against McBeth this time around.
"He was not challenged in the last election, and based on that and that alone, I felt it was important to offer the citizens of the borough a choice," he said. "We can elect John for a third term or we can elect me and move on. The choice was the important part here."
However, the road to the ballot was not an easy one. Fitzpatrick was not on the spring primary ballot, though he did make an attempt.
According to Fitzpatrick, at the time of the spring primary, he was a registered Republican and was preparing a petition to submit to be placed on the ballot.
However, Fitzpatrick’s petition was going to be challenged in court due to one of the signatures not being signed in his presence.
So Fitzpatrick decided to voluntarily withdraw the petition, "because there are a lot of nice people in this borough and what it meant if I was going to fight it was interrupting their daily lives to go down and testify when there was an alternative path to having my name on the ballot and I chose the alternative path."
Fitzpatrick said one of the first things he did was speak with the Republican party.
"I was told by a local GOP representative that if ‘I didn’t know the rules, don’t get into the game.’ At which point I hired a lawyer to go over the rules and review what my options were before November."
Fitzpatrick withdrew under the GOP challenge.
"I was a registered Republican, I have been all my life," he said. "That passed me by and in the primary I couldn’t challenge him on the Republican ticket. I could challenge him, however, as an Independent so I changed my affiliation with some regret to Independent," he said.
Fitzpatrick then submitted a new affidavit with signatures as an Independent.
"This was all done post primary," he said. "But I didn’t go through a primary process. That’s how I’m on the ticket in the fall and was not on the ticket in the primary."
Fitzpatrick has never held a public office.
"I am one of those people who are continuously attuned to politics regardless of what level national, state and locally," he said. "So I have always had my ear to politics. And it is my fundamental belief that somebody that is going to stand for a third term, when his second term was unchallenged, that he be challenged. And if he wins on the merits of his arguments, then so be it. But to let him run without being challenged, it didn’t sit well with me, and it didn’t sit will with a number of prominent Akronites and a lot of the businesses that operate in this community."
Fitzpatrick said, if elected, he would like to see the council function more efficiently and less expensively.
"I am hesitant to get involved with personal property issues without the law behind it," he said.
"My job would be having the police department operating effectively and report that effectiveness to the council. By definition of the borough code that is where my job begins and ends."
He would also like to see the council conduct business in council chambers only.
"When I say restore function, that is a catch all phrase, but that means sunshine," he said. "To conduct all the borough’s affairs within the chamber walls so it’s open to the public and it’s part of the permanent record. No representations, promises or actions will be made to anyone outside of those chamber walls. It will be on the record."
He also wants to make it easier for the citizens to obtain information on the activities of the council. He said the minutes are now posted on the website.
"That was an idea I had prior to being elected," he said. "I talked to a council member about that."
Fitzpatrick also has ideas about streaming council meetings, though he hasn’t worked out the details or expenses, "but that’s keeping with my desire of keeping the public aware and operating under the Sunshine law."
"I also have ideas about community days and having events where we can invite the community so they may get to know one another and get to know their elected officials a little better," he said. "They are modest goals but given the current situation, it’s a huge step."
Fitzpatrick owns and operates a business in the borough and is a partner in three different real estate development corporations operating in the Commonwealth. He also sells life insurance.
He spent the majority of his life in the Annapolis, Md. area.
"We had a mid-life epiphany and decided we wanted to get into a slower paced environment, so we looked around for a bed and breakfast and my wife fell in love with the Boxwood Inn," he said. "We bought it 13 or 14 years ago."
Fitzpatrick also has a background in electronic engineering/telecommunications.
"I used that for a lot of my professional life in sales," he said. "The last time I worked for an organization was Samsung Electronics of America. When I separated from the company I was the national accounts sales manager."
He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club of Akron and a Navy veteran. He has two stepchildren and five grandchildren.
"Based on the number of businesses that approached me, this campaign has formed a political action committee, Concerned Citizens of Akron, and that’s what I am working under," he said. "We have regular meetings and I have had donations to that campaign.
The CCOA was formed to promote a challenged election this fall and has two candidates running under its coalition, Fitzpatrick, and current councilman Kay "Mac" McEllhenney.
Fitzpatrick said because of what happened in the primary and his inability to directly challenge McBeth then, he is on the ticket as an Independent.
"Here’s what I caution that, after consideration, should they (the voters) decide to vote for us, they cannot hit vote party line," he said. "They need to make a conscience decision to select both of us to represent them."
"I am confident we will restore order, functionally and make operating the borough less expensive in the very near term," he said.
More MAYOR, page A12