Do you like living in Parma? Are you happy with where the city is headed? A small group of write-in candidates hopes the answer is no. Candidates as diverse as Mary Galinas, a former councilwoman; Denise Geschwender, a pit bull activist; and Steve Bayt, a cat sanctuary advocate, have their own ideas about what will reverse the current trend of decline facing the city and hope that voters are willing to take a chance on their long-shot candidacies to make Parma great again.
Whether these candidates offer a real alternative to the incumbents remains to be seen as some comments they have made makes one wonder. Bayt, for instance, is running for council in Ward 9 and has stated he wishes to “Save Cats, Save Parma, Save The World.” It is unclear what cats have to do with saving Parma, but his candidacy does shed light on the problem of stray cats running loose in the city. Geschwender, running for council president, has stated on Facebook, “It is my intention to eliminate the position of Council President.” I’m not sure that a council president, once elected, can eliminate the position of council president, but there you have it. Galinas is the most politically experienced of the candidates having served on council for 12 years and is once again running for mayor. Known for regularly infantilizing Parma’s elected representatives by repeatedly referring to them as the boys or good ole boys, she represents the growing frustration of disgruntled residents who now live in a city that is struggling financially.
Despite complaints from a minority of residents and nonresidents, whether seeking to reopen pools, create cat sanctuaries, avoid paying a trash collection fee/tax, or repeal a ban on pit bulls, the city officials have chosen to move forward with their proposals and have not changed course. In a city of over 80,000 residents, the low turnout at council meetings (usually only a dozen or so residents) suggests most residents are generally comfortable with or indifferent to the current decision-making by their elected representatives. The upcoming election will likely reveal this truth to the great dismay of Parma’s write-in candidates.
An initiative to #ChangeParma, spearheaded by Galinas, will require more than a last-minute, haphazard effort to run as a write-in candidate. It would require a long-term vision and game plan to challenge the status quo. It would require a regular slate of candidates, with their names on the ballot, providing alternative solutions to the challenges currently facing the city. This would, at the very least, offer voters an option on Election Day as to who is best equipped to represent them. The only serious options available today appear to be those put forward by the Democratic Party in Parma. The Republican Party has apparently decided to throw in the towel, though “independent” candidates with Republican backing occasionally challenge the Democratic incumbents.
Until opposition candidates are capable of seeing the bigger picture for what it is and make an effort to mount a serious challenge, residents should expect more of the same from our city government, for better or worse. Fortunately, our city continues to remain stable and relatively prosperous thanks in large part to our residents who take the time to vote and our elected representatives who are tasked with making the difficult, unpopular decisions when necessary.
On Election Day, I expect that voters will make the right decision and elect the best qualified candidates to office. Just don’t expect things to change much.