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Kent voters to choose three at-large council members from four candidates

By David Paulk correspondent

KENT:  There are four candidates on Tuesday’s ballot for three at-large seats. The two incumbents are Michael DeLeone, who has been on council since 1998, and Roger Sidoti, who has been on council since 2012. Doria Daniels and Melissa Long have never served on council.

Michael DeLeone

Democratic incumbent DeLeone is no stranger to Kent politics.  A longtime council member of 15 years, said his longevity speaks for itself, making him the better choice for council-at-large.

DeLeone said he has been a member of council long enough to be a part of the city’s growth.

“When I first started on council there was nothing but banks and bars,” DeLeone said. “You couldn’t go downtown and buy a pair of shoes or a pair of pants.

“We want to make Kent a destination and not just a college town.”

DeLeone worked for Kent State University for 28 years as an equipment operator. After he retired from KSU he started working for Franklin Township in 2008, where he continued his work as an equipment operator.  He prides himself on having an in depth knowledge on issues related to construction and road projects. 

Increasing the tax base for Kent is a focal point of his leadership.

“The downtown is going to take care of itself, the businesses are doing well,” DeLeone said. “Now we have to start working on gateways into Kent, such as the (state Route) 43 coming into Kent and going out of Kent, and route 59 coming in on the west side of Kent, where a few businesses have closed up.

Roger B. Sidoti

Democrat Sidoti is seeking his first full term in office. He currently finishing the last two years of a term left by Erik Valenta, who relocated for a new job. Sidoti said he was encouraged by the community to run for another term.

He’s proud of the success and development that has occurred at Kent but he wants to take it to the next level

“How do we energize the various neighborhoods in the city of Kent?” Sidoti asked.

If elected, part of his strategy is taking long track of land along the railroad tracks on Mogadore Road, and revamping it so manufacturers will be attracted to the area. This will in turn create more jobs he said.

“Young people will have an opportunity to go into jobs that aren’t necessarily jobs that you need a college education for.” Sidoti said.

 “I’m not sure if I’m the better candidate, but what I do know is that what I bring to the election is someone who knows the community well. I’ve lived her for 38 years. My wife and I have raised four fids here.

“I had an opportunity to really interface with a vast cross section of families for a variety of reasons,” Sidoti said. “I have a pretty good feel for what the people of Kent truly stand for, how they feel about their community, their pride and expectations.”

He spent 40 years as a teacher. His last teaching job was at Kent Roosevelt High School where he taught for 13 years.  In addition to being a teacher and city council member, Sidoti said he has been on various boards in the past including a board of zoning appeals, and charter review.

Sidoti married his wife in 1971, and moved to Kent in 1975. He received his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Akron in 1971, and his master’s from Kent State University in 1978.

Melissa Long

Newcomer Long thinks Kent City Council needs some new ideas. And she’s hoping to add her ideas to the mix.

“The city lawmakers, sometimes after years of doing things the same old way they kind of need some new ideas and fresh way of looking at things,” said Long, a Democrat. “And I thought I could bring that to the council.”

Long emphasizes the fact this isn’t her first time in politics. She was on the city’s Planning Commission for seven years. She was also a councilman and mayor of the city of Portland from 2000 to 2004.  These are her main selling points for winning the council-at-large seat.

She also worked for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for three years. For past 30 years, she was a member of the League of Women Voters.

Long has lived in Kent for eight years, after relocating from Portland. A widow, she said moved to Kent to be with her daughter, son-in law, and grandchildren.

“They said we could use some help with the children, so why don’t you sell your home and move up here,” said Long, who has two sons.

Doria Daniels

Tuesday’s election is familiar territory for Daniels. This will be the third time she is running for city council, the last time she ran was in 1991.

Daniels is counting on her experience and status to carry her through the elections.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” Daniels said. “I was even here for the May 4  killings, so I’m familiar with the dynamics of our city. I’ve seen it go through it’s tough times and good times.”

After her 1991 defeat Daniels, decided to spend the next 20 years focusing on her business as manufacturing information specialist.  Much of her work was done with the Automotive and Aerospace Industries.  But now she’s deciding to try council again after retirement.

She’s basing her campaign on three ideals: re-focus, re-prioritize, and re-balance.  Most of her beliefs stem from the success of the Kent’s revitalization projects.

“Now it’s time for council to refocus back on other capital improvements, and one of those capital improvements include neighborhood streets.”

Like many other officials in Kent, Daniels wants to focus on bringing new manufacturers into the city. Due to their similar objectives she’s confident her goals will be met if she’s elected.

Daniels has a long history of community service. She’s been a member of Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, and the Portage County Human Services Board.

Daniels’ family has an established legacy in Kent.

Her stepfather, the late Ben Anderson, was Kent’s first African American elected official.  Her mother, the late Henrietta Anderson, was the first licensed African-American hair care salon owner in Kent.

She graduated from the Kent State University School of Business Administration.