Fifteen-year council veteran and two-time mayoral candidate John T. Scott plans to throw his hat in the ring for the Ward 3 City Council race slated for this fall. Mr. Scott, 72, announced this week that he pulled a petition from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
Mr. Scott will join the race with incumbent Councilman Jeremy A. Zelwin and newcomer Elise Seifert. As a result, there will be a primary election for the ward to whittle the candidates to two before the November general election. There is also a primary for Ward 5, where Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany is being challenged by residents Peter Shanes and Jacquelyn Calavitta.
The primary in Solon will take place Sept. 10.
A 42-year city resident, Mr. Scott was appointed to fill the seat of former Ward 3 councilman Jeffrey Pedicino who resigned in the summer of 2017, before losing in the election to Mr. Zelwin.
Among the issues Mr. Scott sites in his bid for re-election is a proposed rails-to-trails project, which has drawn backlash from many constituents in Ward 3, especially those with houses abutting the proposed 2-mile trail.
“I have been inundated with requests from Ward 3 residents who feel that Jeremy (Zelwin) has done a poor job in representing them over the past year and a half,” Mr. Scott said. “Jeremy said that if people adjacent to the trail were against it, he would vote no.
“However he insists on voting for the study at $40,000 and then vote against the trail,” Mr. Scott said. “This indecision is weighing heavily on our residents, especially seniors along the trail who are in fear for their safety.”
Mr. Zelwin, 37, said Wednesday that he has talked about supporting a trail study, but that does not mean he is supporting the trail project.
“I’m not running on one issue,” Mr. Zelwin said.
Mr. Scott said he is against the trail because it is not necessary, is too close to serene residential backyards and is an invasion of privacy, and would cost at least another $2 million of city funds just to extend it to the city’s border and then may never receive Cleveland Metroparks funding, among other reasons.
Mr. Scott also pointed out that Mr. Zelwin, as a member of the City Council Finance Committee, voted against an Internet Service Provider study to bring a broadband network to Solon that would service residents and businesses. This would give the city a tremendous boost for economic development.
“It was killed in committee, but should have been debated by the entire council,” Mr. Scott said.
Mr. Zelwin said he did his own research on the matter, as well as spoke to Information Technology Director Jim Gibbs and Councilman Douglas A. Magill who sat on a steering committee looking into the study, and did not see the economic benefit to the city at all.
“I didn’t even see one example of an ISP even breaking even on the capital investment,” Mr. Zelwin said, noting this would cost Solon upwards of $15 million.
“I’m more apt to bring in additional competition for AT&T and Spectrum instead of potentially going down the road of costing the city $15 million in capital expenses,” Mr. Zelwin said. He also noted of the growth of city businesses in the last five years, “I don’t think the lack of a municipal ISP has prevented that growth.”
Mr. Scott also pointed out that Mr. Zelwin was absent from two important meetings with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. As a result of those meetings, Ward 3 will no longer vote at Grantwood after being their polling place for more than 40 years, Mr. Scott said. They’ve been moved to the Community Center with Wards 2 and 7 and parking will be an issue because the center will be open on Election Day, he added.
Mr. Zelwin said he was not invited by the mayor to these meetings and was unaware that they occurred.
“It’s hard to show up to a meeting when you are not invited,” Mr. Zelwin said, “or you don’t find out about them until after they happened.
“Those are wildly untrue facts and he (Mr. Scott) is spinning the information,” Mr. Zelwin said. “That is ridiculous.”
Mr. Scott is employed at Gardiner in Solon in the energy segment of the business in sales. He said there needs to be more synergy on City Council and they have to work better together.
“With my experience, I can bring that to the table,” Mr. Scott said.