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Seven vie for four Roaming Shores council seats – The Star Beacon

Seven vie for four Roaming Shores council seats – The Star Beacon

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ROAMING SHORES — Three village council incumbents and four new contenders seek four available seats on the Nov. 7 ballot. 

Single-term council member and former village treasurer Cheryl Fain, who recently retired from her nursing career, is not seeking re-election.

Roy Brommer

The eight-year incumbent council member said though he’s already sold his house in the village — and he’s unsure if he

plans to move elsewhere — his name is still on the November ballot, and he would serve if elected.

Brommer said he wants to see an end to protracted bickering between the municipal board and the village’s homeowner association, the RomeRock Association, and more fiscal responsibility on council.

“We’re just overspending on projects. I know they need to be fixed, but we have to catch up with some of the ones we’re doing,” Brommer said, referring to debt services incurred to rehabilitate or replace some of the village’s wastewater lift stations.

“They were zero percent loans, but we need to start paying some of these things down.”

He steered the village’s purchase of the Lake Roaming Rock dam, which created a limited liability to the municipality. Should the dam fail, cleanup would be funded through the village and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, “instead of the people of the lake community having to come up with thousands and thousands of dollars,” he said.

Brommer said he helped establish the village police department and saw the village’s hall completed and signed over to the village in 2010. He also served two terms on the RomeRock Association, and was president for one year, he said.

“We had a working relationship back then. Now it’s terrible. They’re feuding like a bunch of little kids,” he said. “It does need to be straightened up. It just makes it easier on the community. … It doesn’t matter if you’re on the association or on the village — you’re living in the same community.”

Duane Helms

Helms, a political newcomer, moved to the village about three years ago. The Buffalo, New York native attended Minot State University in North Dakota.

While working in business development for shale drilling operations, he said his employer allowed him and his wife and two children to move anywhere within two hours of Pittsburgh. He chose Roaming Shores largely because of the Jefferson Area Local Schools district.

He said his business experience and ability to work with outside organizations to “get the final goal done and taken care of” were strengths. If his first-ever bid for public office succeeds, Helms said he wants to make decisions for the good of the public, and look past tensions between the village’s bilateral governing boards.

He pointed to a recent disagreement on the association’s request to use village-owned equipment on behalf of a resident whose culvert needed cleaning. The village first stuck to an ordinance that disallowed private use of public property but is now drafting a new usage agreement.

“The biggest thing is working together as a team,” Helms said. “‘We don’t want him to use it because there’s issues behind it.’ Let’s figure out what the issues are and get them resolved so the resident is taken care of.”

Helms also said he’d float a proposal to install a small microturbine off the Lake Roaming Rock dam. Energy generated for the grid could turn into a new revenue stream for the village and flush stagnant water at the lake’s bottom downstream.

“I think everybody is ready for some change and some different input from outside that would benefit the community,” Helms said. “I think there’s been enough of the same people over and over.”

Marlene Hocevar

The 20-year Shores resident is an incumbent seeking her second term on village council. Hocevar grew up in the Cleveland area, attending Trinity High School in Garfield Heights then Cleveland State University for her bachelor’s in social work, before earning her master’s of education from Utah State University.

She said her family has a long history on Lake Roaming Rock, building a cottage there in the late 1960s.

She retired after 30 years as a state vocational rehabilitation counselor, and has worked as a private contractor for the last seven years. With the state, Hocevar said she worked as a liaison between several different social agencies, overseeing quarterly budget meetings and ensuring services were “timely.”

Hocevar said that work translated into a strong desire for fiscal accountability. When the association recently returned a road work bill for $32,000 — $12,000 more than expected — she said she questioned the increase, and faced criticism for opposing the association.

“How do I know that’s a reasonable cost?” she said. “I want to work with (the association), but I need answers and this is something I’m concerned about — accountability, fiscally. I need to be accountable.”

Currently, Hocevar sits on a subcommittee meeting regularly with association members. She also volunteers with the village police department’s new senior wellness check program. 

If re-elected, Hocevar said she’d look to tackle the Lake Roaming Rock “monster” — a potentially hazardous, unsecured sewage line that sometimes floats to the surface of the lake.

“I just feel like there’s still things I can do and I still want to be involved directly, where I can have an impact,” she said.

Edward Koziol

The 36-year Rome Township fire chief is seeking his second full council term as an incumbent. Koziol was appointed to a vacant council seat in 2012 and elected the following year.

The Grand Valley graduate said he’s lived in the Rome area all his life. He moved to the Shores in 1983 with his wife of 34 years and his now-married daughter, who lives elsewhere in the village. 

“Fast forward — I’m still here,” he laughed. “It’s a nice area to live.”

Koziol spent 39 years in commercial construction, retiring as a chief estimator and senior project manager. He started with the Rome fire department 47 years ago, and made chief in 1981. He spent six years each as president and vice president of the county Fire Chiefs Association, and is the current vice president of the Northeast Ohio Fire Chiefs Association.

“I’m familiar with governmental bodies and how they work, and finances,” he said.

Koziol said he decided to join council hoping to “make a difference.” Looking ahead, he said he would work to continue refreshing the village’s more than 50-year-old infrastructure — including wastewater lift stations and the water tower — and delve into a review of health insurance policies for village employees.

“I’m certainly going to ask questions when it comes to the financial side of it. Health insurance is expensive regardless. I just want to make sure we’re getting their best coverage for the dollars — being financially responsible,” he said.

As a safety official, Koziol said he would also prioritize “stability” in the village police department, and allow officers more enforcement capability.

“Our officers work very hard and they’re dedicated,” he said. “If we could keep everything together and get this 3-mill levy passed, we’re on the road to good things with the police department. It may not be 24/7 coverage, but it’s going to be pretty close to it, and I know our officers and interim chief are working very hard towards that.”

Jack McMillin

Though McMillin is heading into the second half of his term on the RomeRock Association board of directors, he said he intends to step down from the association if elected to council on Nov. 7, in accordance with association bylaws on conflicts of interest.

The Warren native graduated from Howland High School. He has worked as an electrical engineer for Ajax TOCCO Magnethermic of Warren for about 40 years, earning that degree from Youngstown State University — and later, a master’s of business administration. McMillin has lived with his wife and son in the Shores for 13 years.

“I was just looking for an area where the housing had a better chance for increasing appreciation,” he said. “The Warren area was pretty depressed with the loss of the steel mills.”

McMillin pinned his strengths to his analytical ability and strong “code of ethics.” 

“I don’t believe that council is being operated on an unbiased platform,” he said. “I think there are some individuals who don’t understand the benefits of having both an association and a village council. A lot of the complications and arguments back and forth come from lack of information, lack of facts, innuendo, a lot of rumors.

“I’d like to see an end to what appears to be hostilities between the two bodies … most of that is really, I believe, based on personal bias,” he continued. “When you’re serving the public, you have a fiduciary responsibility to serve the public regardless of whether you’re on the council or on the board, and I don’t believe that’s being done right now.

“Our residents don’t deserve the conflict that goes on because of one or two individuals.”

McMillin also said he would look to find out how many village residents have not yet become members of the association if voted into office next week.

Chris Plickert

Plickert is a 24-year journeyman carpenter with the Carpenters Local 373 Union in Cleveland seeking his first council term. The Hartsgrove Township native and Grand Valley Class of 1992 graduate moved to Roaming Shores in 1997 with his wife and daughters.

“At first it was just going to be a temporary thing for four or five years, but I ended up staying,” he said. “I have loved Roaming Shores ever since.”

Plickert is a co-founder of the Roaming Shores Polar Bear Club, which has coordinated the annual Polar Plunge on Lake Roaming Rock for the past 12 years and donates proceeds to several area school districts.

His oldest daughter, Emily, was killed

in a car crash close

to two years ago. She

was 17. He said her death is one of the reasons he’s choosing to run for Shores council now.

“The community was so great when that happened,” he said. “The outpouring of the community support was something phenomenal to me. It’s time for me to give back to the community. That’s why I’m running — to try to make things a little bit better for Roaming Shores. I’m not doing it for myself. … I’m doing it for the people of Roaming Shores.”

Plickert said his contracting experience could assist the village in landing new condominium developments on Lake Roaming Rock, which are currently in discussion.

He also said he would push to revive a levy measure to allow 24/7 police coverage in the village, which failed in May. Plickert added he is aware of the hazard posed by the Lake Roaming Rock “monster.”

He said he wants more transparency in the board’s decision-making, citing zoning variance denials officials explained away with “that’s just the way it is.”

“I’m not going to beat around the bush and I’m not going to lie to people,” he said. “If there’s a question that I have, I will do my damndest to get it answered. … We need to give people the straight answers they need.”

Pat Swartz

Though this is Swartz’ first run for public office, she said she’s no stranger to government. She worked in the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program — designed to transition citizens off welfare — as an assistant manager at a Pennsylvania site.

“I want to be part of the solution of making this community better,” she said. “It’s good now, but I think there’s always room for improvement and I want to be a part of that.”

The 30-year Mentor native graduated from Orange High School and attended University of Cincinnati, later earning a degree in microcomputers from Lakeland Community College. Swartz is the former owner of Pa’s and Ma’s Goods in Jefferson and now volunteers at Classy Consignments.

She and her family — which includes three adult sons and seven grandchildren — moved to the village in 2011.

“We didn’t like the city life and we wanted to be in the private lake community,” she said. “We stayed because we like it here.”

Swartz also wants a smoother connection between village administrators and the RomeRock Association, and more “give and take” that acknowledges each governing body’s strengths.

“I just think people have to learn to sit back and listen, and realize they are part of both the village and the association,” she said. “You’ve got to make wise decisions that would benefit Roaming Shores.”

Swartz’ husband Jim just began his second term as the association’s vice president, raising questions about potential council votes on issues related to the association. The state auditor’s Public Integrity Assurance Team recently ruled Swartz could have a conflict of interest when debating or voting on a contract or agreement with the association.

Swartz told the Star Beacon she intends to abstain from any such votes, and once both bodies agree on the structure of village management, fewer such votes would crop up.

“It would not be an issue. I feel it would be a ‘plus,’” she said. “We’re all working toward the same thing — the village and the association. … We’re all working to better Roaming Shores — whatever it takes, whichever group. We’re part of both. They each have something to give.”

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