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State of the City Recap and Opinions

Full State of the City Stream can be found at https://www.facebook.com/justingreerbarberton/videos/10220298069546918/

After the flood affected the first attempt for the State of City address, today Mayor Judge presented his speech. A large group attended the event. Most notable was Ohio State Representative Tavia Galonski, County Councilwoman Bethany McKenny, and our County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

For those that may not know what the State of the City is, it is an event held every year to cover progress and topics of the past year and what the plans are for the following years to come. The first State of the City I attended was in 2018 and was intrigued by the information. I honestly could not talk about anything that was mentioned because I did not follow deeply in the City’s business much before then. However, with this State of the City, I can comment on just about all topics and wanted to put together an article to cover my thoughts.

The meeting started with Joe Stephan, our Planning Director introducing Ilene Shapiro to the stage. She mentioned that Summit County launched a website called https://www.summit4success.com is supposed to be a portal to help businesses small and large locate or expand in Summit County. I looked through the website and commend the county for trying, but the system has shortfalls.

The website https://www.summit4success.com is loaded with resources as far as organizations that help businesses. There is everything from JUMP to Incubators, which is excellent. I think the issue remains that smaller firms are still being looked at like large companies as if they have a group of attorneys working to secure deals. I was unable to find any guide or checklist for starting a business on the website. The website does have a tool that I was excited to explore, and it provides an interactive map of locations, buildings, and communities that are open for businesses and or construction. Sadly after looking through the tool, there was nothing for Barberton making the point mute given the fact it was touted at the Barberton level.

Throughout the event, I could not help but feel like it is a campaign rally rather than a State of the City address. Everything from mentioning the full name of the mayor and that he is running for office to the use of, “I” and “Me” throughout the speech. There was mention of Social Media and how it was terrible while trying to discredit the community groups. He also mentioned how he worked so diligently with the VFW POST 1066 to restore the War Memorial in 2018. What about the fact that the memorial was restored using $400 directly sent to the Buetificfaction Fund in the Barberton Community Foundation (I have receipts)? There was also an additional $400 sent to the local VFW in the form of a check directly paid for by the community coming together to raise over $800 in 6 hours. I was in the middle of the chaos, and I can tell you, his statement is not 100% true. Again, I feel like this whole thing was more about a campaign than it was about the City.

The next piece of information that I found interesting was the creation of a “Purple Ribbon Committee.” This committee will be put together using community members and will gather to talk about community issues. This is something that I feel is a tad bit late but needed. Our community has needed communication channels for a while. As long as this is not an attempt for a campaign point, it will be great!

All in all, I took everything with a grain of salt but stayed open to ensure I gave the position of Mayor the respect it should come with. It is going to be hard to let go of the fact that reps and local community leaders were holding negative conversations about people in attendance. This only confirms my feelings that this event was a campaign rally rather than anything to do with the City of Barberton.

You may have read this and thought “Just another negative post about something in Barberton.” After hearing and seeing what I saw at this event, I feel that there is so much that needs to be said. Sadly, it takes away from the good that was mentioned. Just another reason, we need a change in our system. We can’t have the negativity and bullies in our local government any longer. I am very disappointed with the message and people that attended.