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More than two weeks ahead of the deadline, a three-way race is shaping up in Ravenna's Ward 1.
The ward, which encompasses the northwest quadrant of the city, has drawn incumbent Sharon Spencer, former councilman Steven "Snag" Bailey and Mike LaCivita Jr., former manager of the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Residents have until Feb. 21 to collect signatures and turn them in to the Portage County Board of Elections, according to the city's charter. Other seats open this year include Ward 2, in the city's northeast quadrant, held by Frank Seman, and the at-large city council seats now held by Amy Michael and Fred Berry.
If the board certifies petitions for all three Ward 1 candidates, it will guarantee a primary in that ward to narrow the field of candidates to two. Ravenna's elections are non-partisan, which means it only holds a primary if more than two candidates seek office.
Bailey served four years on city council until 2009, when Spencer defeated him in the election that year. He also sought election to an at-large seat on city council in 2011 when Fred Berry was elected to the seat he had been appointed to previously.
"Some people wanted me to run again," Bailey said.
He said his "unique vision for the city" includes being more visible and making regular rounds to see what issues need to be addressed.
"I think we need to go back to basics," he said.
Spencer said she plans to run "a clean campaign" and focus n her own merits.
"The city has made a lot of improvements but we still have a lot of hard work to do," she said. "It's been a priviledge to represent the residents of ward 1, and I would hope to continue in that capacity."
She said her four years on council have been a "real eye opening experience" and learned she cannot change everything she wants to instantly.
"I'm only one person, but I'll work as hard as I can," she said.
LaCivita retired as superintendent of the wastewater plant in June. He had worked for the city for more than 34 years, the last six as superintendent.
He said he is running to "give people a choice" and to "make sure the public gets what they are paying for." He also is concerned about losing businesses in the city.
"We lost the Record-Courier, and it looks like we're going to lose G.E.," he said, referring to General Electric's announcement that its lamp plant on North Chestnut Street could close and take 164 jobs out of the city. "And why are all these appointed department heads not residents of the city? It's good enough for them to come and collect a paycheck, but not good enough for them to live in Ravenna and send their kids to Ravenna schools."
LaCivita said he believes council members should turn down health insurance benefits and that more people should run. He said he'd like to see term limits imposed in the city.
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Ward 1 could use some better representation. Mr. LaCivita may have some experience to give based on his tenure with the City. I hope he is doing it for the right reasons and doesnt have an ax to grind with Bica or his administration.