Stephan Wilder and Mark Cerreta vie for mayor of the Northern Canton
NORTHERN TOWNSHIP – In the heart of this city remains a shadow of its former glory, the former Hoover Co. factory in the future largely at a standstill.
For Mark Cerreta, this plant is the centerpiece of his campaign to overthrow first-term mayor Stephan Wilder, who is seeking re-election in the general election on November 2.
The position is part-time and pays $ 17,460 per year. The term of office is two years.
Campaign website:Stephan Wilder for the mayor
Campaign website:Mark Cerreta for the mayor
Cerreta said the revitalization of the old Hoover factory would become a “difference maker” for a city that he said has mainly become stuck in growth despite recent news from Meijer.
The Michigan-based grocery chain is set to buy the old Kmart property on North Main Street and anchor a new mall, Wilder announced last week.
“We are fortunate to attract a multi-billion dollar business,” Wilder said.
Cerreta believes stalled plans to renovate 538,000 square feet of the former Hoover factory into apartments, retail, restaurants and offices can be accomplished under his leadership.
The factory, also known as the Hoover District, is owned by Maple Street Commerce. Developers Stu Lichter, Chris Semarjian and Bob DeHoff are partners of the company.
They bought Hoover in 2007 after all of the company’s operations were moved out of Stark County. The $ 50 million project to make it a residential and commercial hotspot remains a vision.
Wilder agreed the Hoover Project would be a major improvement for the city, but stressed that city officials had no control over the property or its uses. Maple Street Commerce has full control.
“He can’t move forward until they move forward,” Wilder said as he sat in his office at town hall. The brick facade of the former Hoover Factory is visible from a window.
His plans call for a proactive coalition with all stakeholders, including the school district, to determine what is needed for Project Hoover to move forward.
“I’m the only one in town who has a working relationship with the district owner of Hoover,” Cerreta said. As mayor, “I will use this relationship to work with him to move the project forward. “
Wilder questioned his opponent’s plan.
“I don’t see where another committee is going to help move this project forward. We have a number of incentives on the table for them,” Wilder said.
He said he wrote a letter of support for Maple Street for a historic tax credit.
“I’m not on their way. (Lichter) has to decide when he’s going to act,” Wilder said.
In the meantime, Wilder has said he believes his administration has achieved a number of economic successes during his first term despite the challenges and adjustments of COVID-19.
He credited his land bank program for securing the Meijer project which will bring the city $ 2.255 million from the sale. A Biggby Cafe and a Sgt. Clean Car Care is also expected to join Meijer.
North Canton acquired the former Kmart property and two other plots after the retail store closed in 2020. This allowed authorities to market the 30-acre site for redevelopment.
Wilder said that Meijer “historically provides excellent customer service, low prices, quality food and a wide selection of national products for our community.”
The new businesses are expected to create 330 jobs or about $ 5 million in payroll. No tax incentives or reductions were offered.
“I’m happy that something rather than an abandoned building is filling Kmart Square on Main Street,” Cerreta said. But he said North Canton didn’t need another grocery store.
“It was an opportunity to put something special on this side of town,” Cerreta said. “But the mayor and administration are clearly choosing to respond to a short-term political need rather than a long-term community need.”
Wilder said the announcement was not political.
In addition to Meijer, Wilder said his administration created 40 new companies in the past 18 months. He also said the expansion of Diebold Nixdorf’s operations near Hoover continued to progress. This will add 400 jobs, Wilder said.
He also said other initiatives, such as the inclusive Dogwood Park playground, the Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Zone (DORA) and the popular weekly North Canton Farmers Market, had started under his leadership.
“I brought fresh and innovative ideas to move the city forward in a very competitive market,” said Wilder, who was previously chief of police. “I consider myself to be a servant leader.”
Life outside politics
Wilder, who graduated from Glenwood High School in 1969, is married. He graduated from Kent State University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and witnessed the shooting on May 4, 1970.
He served 36 years with the Northern Township Police Department until his retirement in 2017. His last seven years with the Department Wilder was Chief of Police. He entered politics in 2019.
Wilder dethroned David Held as mayor.
Cerreta, who graduated from North Canton Hoover High School in 1978, is married and has three children. He graduated from Ashland University in 1982 with a degree in business and marketing.
In February, Cerreta retired from pharmaceutical company Pfizer after 39 years. He was in sales and marketing. He has been on the municipal council for 10 years and has led several initiatives.
Ceretta highlighted her leadership role in securing the Akron Children’s Hospital campus, developing the Golden Star Memorial and securing funds for the July 4 fireworks this year. summer.
Governing in the Age of COVID
Wilder walked into the mayor’s office shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and he said it changed the way he governed as adjustments were needed. For example, most activities were canceled in 2020.
Without COVID, Wilder also believes his land bank program would have expanded and the Kmart property could have had a tenant earlier than last week.
“But our services have never stopped. I’m proud of it,” Wilder said, crediting city employees.
“(The Hoover District) could be a very big part of the future, but I’ve done other things to help keep us going,” Wilder said.
For example, he said he had helped mend an icy relationship with Walsh University, providing them with support to secure grants. And the farmers’ market has brought in nearly $ 500,000 to sellers, Wilder said.
Cerreta said Wilder could have done more with economic growth despite COVID-19 and cited the renovated Oakwood Square in Plain Township and the revitalization of downtown Massillon as examples.
“COVID is real, but it’s also an excuse for a lot of things that haven’t been done, okay,” Ceretta said. “We have reached a plateau.”
Both men believe they can move North Canton forward, but they see this path differently.
Contact Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or [email protected]
Follow on Twitter @bduerREP