May primary: Waterloo, Ravenna schools seek levies. Who's running in Kent, Streetsboro?

Ravenna voters will be asked at the polls this May to approve new money to support schools, while voters in the Waterloo school district will face a renewal and tax increase to prevent an operating deficit.

Meanwhile, voters in Streetsboro and parts of Kent will see primary races on the ballot, with a three-way primary in the Streetsboro mayor's race and in Ward 4 of City Council, and Democratic primaries for council races in Wards 1 and 6 in Kent.

Wednesday was the filing deadline for issues for the May 2 primary, as well as the filing deadline for candidates in Kent and Streetsboro. Ravenna candidates have until Feb. 16 to file.

Because Kent's elections are partisan, independents there have until the day before the primary to file.

School levies in Ravenna, Waterloo

In the Ravenna school district, voters will be asked for new operating funds for the first time since 2005. Ravenna voters approved a permanent improvement levy in 2017, which was renewed in 2021.

Treasurer Candi Lukat said the 6.9-mill, 5-year levy will generate $2.674 million annually.

"The proposed levy is necessary to fund increased expenses in operating the district and to support additional investments in curriculum, programming, and facilities, including safety, as well as support to retain high-caliber educators and provide additional academic enhancements and social and emotional learning support," Superintendent Laura Hebert said. "The district is conducting both a staff audit and a facilities audit to assess areas where support is needed most, to eliminate unnecessary spending and to develop a detailed plan for how the proposed levy funds must be invested."

In the Waterloo district, where more than a dozen requests for new funding have been rejected, voters will be asked for an 8.3-mill, 5-year levy. The levy, a combination of a renewal and a tax increase, is requested "to prevent an operating deficit," according to the ballot language.

Waterloo's most recent request, which fell short by about 400 votes, was a 1.5% earned income tax increase.

Waterloo Treasurer Sherry Tyson said the district has put an income tax before voters several times, and those efforts have not been successful. The district now has three voted levies, two that ended in December, and a third that ends at the end of this year. The three levies total 8.3 mills.

"The current levy the district is proposing is the renewal of the emergency levy that ended Dec. 2022 with an increase," she said. "The current emergency levy generates $939,557 dollars annually and the increase will generate an additional $840,453 annually. The new levy does not impose an additional burden on the real estate owners since in total it equals the same voted 8.3 mills that is currently in place. They could see a slight increase during one half of the tax collection year 2024, but then it will return to normal."

Primaries in Streetsboro

In Streetsboro, where elections are non-partisan, longtime Mayor Glenn Broska is facing a challenge from two opponents: Stacey Vadaj and Jeff Fejes.

There's also a three-way primary in Ward 4 of Streetsboro City Council, where Michelle Bragg, Lisa McDaniel and Brian Pearson are seeking the open council seat. Julie Field, who now serves Ward 4, did not file to run for reelection.

Incumbent Anthony Lombardo and Chris Yonish filed petitions for Ward 2 of City Council. Incumbents Mike Lampa and Jen Wagner are running unopposed in wards 1 and 3. Since there are fewer than three candidates, there will not be a primary for those council seats.

Kent council races

In Kent, where longtime councilman Garret Ferrara is not seeking reelection, Democrats Melissa Celko and Benjamin Tipton are seeking election to his seat.

Tracy Wallach, an incumbent Democrat who serves Ward 6, is facing a challenge from Jeff Clapper, a member of the city's Planning Commission.

Democrat Christopher Hook also is challenging incumbent John Kuhar in Ward 4, and incumbent council members Jack Amrhein, Robin Turner and Heidi Shaffer are running unopposed in wards 2, 3 and 5. Since there are not two candidates from the same political party, there will not be a primary in wards 2, 3, 4 or 5.

Renewal issues and liquor options

Renewal levies are on the ballot in Nelson, where voters will face both 1.5 mill, 5-year renewal is on the ballot for fire and EMS and a 2-mill levy for roads and bridges; and in Edinburg, where a 2-mill, 5 year renewal is on the ballot for roads and bridges.

Voters in Kent's Ward 1B will see local liquor options for 265 West, which does business as Kent's Underground.

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: 2023 May primary: See who's running for office in Streetsboro, Kent