New council sworn in; Sommerville retains president’s seat, Merlitti named new vice president

December 15, 2009

The 2010-2011 Akron City Council was sworn into office Monday night, followed by the election of Council officers and sometimes emotional acceptance speeches by new and old members.

Packed Council chambers reflected the monumental nature of this session’s installment of Council officers, as nearly half of those sworn in are newly elected to replace incumbent members who have served more than a decade on Council.

Sworn in were newly elected Jeff Fusco, At Large; Linda Omobien, At Large; Russel Neal Jr., Ward 4; Robert Otterman, Ward 6; and Sandra Kurt, Ward 8. Fusco and Otterman are returning to council after having served in previous years.

Reelected incumbents sworn  in were Michael Williams, At Large; James P. Hurley III, W-1; Bruce Kilby, W-2; Marco Sommerville, W-3; Kenneth L. Jones, W-5; Tina Merlitti, W-7; Mike Freeman, W-9; and Kelli Crawford, W-10.

After swearing in, Council elected its officers. Sommerville was reelected as Council President. Merlitti was elected Council Vice President and Freeman was elected Council President Pro Tem. The vice president presides over Council in the president’s absence, and the president pro tem presides in the vice president’s absence.

During time for remarks from all members, incumbents expressed sadness to bid farewell to members not returning this session, but also optimism for working with new Council members on jobs and strengthening partnerships between the city and Akron Public Schools.

Sommerville encouraged the new Council to embrace with hope and a spirit of working toward a common goal the challenges it faces as it enters a new term.

“It’s not as fun to be a Council member as it used to be,” Sommerville said. “We live in a time when the economy poses a number of challenges. We have a number of things to tackle, but we’re going to make the best of a challenging situation.”

Newly elected Council members will not vote at a special meeting scheduled for Dec. 21 to vote on proposed increased sewer rates and other unfinished Council business before the winter recess. The new session of Council officially begins Jan. 4.