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Akron, Ohio

Remarks of Garry L. Moneypenny


Oath of Office

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 06-01-2015




SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015


(As prepared for delivery)


            Thank you, Judge Stormer for sharing this day with me.       

            My thanks also to Reverend Bob Denton and Rev. Dr. Carl Wallace for their participation today, and for their friendship.

            And would you all join me in thanking the students from Seiberling CLC, the color guard from East High School, and the fine singers from YEPAW.

            I need to thank the most important people in my life that helped me get here today.

            I’m deeply grateful to my mom Gloria and my father Tom Moneypenny. Dad - - and his eleven brothers and sisters – all graduated from East High School. My dad worked at, and retired from Goodyear. He is 83. Mom worked at Firestone Bank. She is 80 years old. My parents have always been supportive of everything that I’ve done. I’m grateful, and feel fortunate that they are here to celebrate this occasion with me today.

                        Thanks also to my sisters Lisa, Tommie, and Amy,  and Lisa’s husband Scott. We also remember our brothers Terry and Joseph, who both left this earth too soon.

            And of course, I thank the person who is so special to me, for her support and understanding, my wife of 25 years, Sandy, also a graduate of East High School.

            The Mayor of Akron is fortunate to be served by a dedicated cabinet and office staff whom I look forward to working with.

            We have true professionals in our fire department under Chief Ed Hildbrand and police department under Chief Jim Nice.

            I would like to ask all public safety officers – police and fire- active or retired, who are here today to please stand, so that we may thank you for your service to protect and serve.

            I also want to thank the department managers and city employees who go to work every day trying to make life better for the people who live here.

            And my thanks to each member of Akron city council who has worked collaboratively for the greater good of Akron.

            It’s also important for me today to thank Sharon and Paul Connor, Mike and Diana Herold, and Elaine Finney -- good friends who have supported me in every endeavor I’ve made to improve the lives of the residents of Ward 10.

            Since many people have said they really don’t know a lot about me, I wanted to introduce myself to you today, and share with you “what makes me tick.” What are the values I hold, and the lessons I have learned from my life in public service?

            From my days at Hatton Elementary School, I knew I wanted to be a policeman. When I was going to Hyre Junior High and Ellet High School, Akron police officer Dan Kovien worked off-duty at the McDonalds at East Market and Mogadore Road. It wasn’t the burgers and fries that drew me there every day-- I wanted to hear Dan Kovien’s stories. He encouraged me, and got me a ride-along in a cruiser, and he helped me decide how I would spend the rest of my life.

            When I graduated from Ellet High School, my friend Rick Poling and I both looked at careers in law enforcement. We knew that you had to be 21 years old in Ohio to be a cop. So at age 18, we both joined the Army, and enlisted as MP’s.

            I served my tour at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. When we were discharged, Rick and I both signed-up to be police officers in Springfield Township on the same day.

            Over the years, I did just about every job in the department, and rose through the ranks to be the Chief of Police.

            But I also wanted to serve the residents of my own neighborhood where I lived in East Akron, and on Election Day 2001 – it was on September 11th – I was elected to represent Ward 10 on Akron City Council.


            I served until 2007 when Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander asked me to work for him as his Chief Deputy and Assistant Sheriff. Drew wanted me to put into place for his department, some of the community policing strategies I had found successful in Springfield Township.

            Thank you, Drew for your trust, and for the leadership skills you passed on to me.

            Four years later, I returned to City Council, and in 2012, was proud to be elected unanimously by my peers to be President of Council.

            Earlier this month, Don Plusquellic announced that he would retire June 1st. The Akron City Charter makes the council president his successor as Mayor.

            This is not the first time I’ve been called-on to fill some big shoes.

            When Sheriff Alexander asked me to replace Larry Givens, a policeman’s policeman – he was a hero to much of the Akron police force and to the deputies in the sheriff’s department.

            When I became president of Akron city council, Marco Somerville had been a presence on council for 26 years, and a dominant presence as its leader for 12 years.

            And today, I am prepared to fill the biggest shoes of all – to step in to the Mayor’s office and follow a man who has been a force for change for 28 years, three decades filled with accomplishments.

            I’m grateful to Don Plusquellic for what he has done for the city he loves, for his service to Akron, for his friendship and for the confidence he has placed in me. Thank you, Mayor Plusquellic.

            Each of these three men set the bar high. But in each case, I have always tried to move the bar a little higher.

            In addition to being a police officer and police chief - - -  for15 years I was the principal hostage negotiator for the METRO SWAT team, which served 22 police departments in Summit and Portage Counties. Using what I learned from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, there have been more than 60 occasions when I was on the telephone with a person – who either had a gun to their head or someone else’s head, or were threatening to do so.

            That’s a situation that really focuses your attention.

            And what I learned was that having a badge and a gun wasn’t the most important thing in that setting.  The tools that were most useful were patience, kindness, and a little humility.

            Some people look on those qualities as weakness. But on every one of those 60 occasions- I was successful. And what these experiences taught me is the power of patience, kindness, and a little humility. These lessons served me well in police work, and I carry them with me every day.

            And these same qualities -- patience, kindness, and a little humility will serve me well as Mayor of the City of Akron.            

            In 2005, I really had to be patient when the Akron School Board told me they were closing East High School. I pleaded with the Board to keep East High open. And humility was forced on me by the school board member who patted me on the shoulder and said, “Garry – you’re not going to win this one.”

            I hope I was kind to her… but boy, was I angry.

            This is a high school in the middle of a neighborhood. Most of our kids at East walk to school. School board members argued that closing East would save dollars and cents.  But it wasn’t common sense.

            I had to think outside the box to come up with a better idea: Let’s combine Goodyear junior high with East high school on one campus. It hadn’t been done in Akron before, but this would save money, and keep a community institution intact.

            I knew the residents of my ward, and I knew they wouldn’t stand for this school to be closed —so I asked the board to come to East High and explain their reasoning.

            On the night we announced a ward meeting, I came into this auditorium, not knowing for sure if many people would even show up.

            The place was packed. It was standing room only, and some people brought home-made signs with them. When the crowd started to chant – to keep East High open – the members of the school board huddled backstage.

            I had been prepared to rile-up the audience even more, but thankfully, I was able to step forward and announce that the board had changed its mind. East High would remain open as a combined Community Learning Center – the first in Akron history.


            I’m proud that this plan has not only been successful, but it has been repeated at Buchtel, and will probably be a model for Garfield as well.

            That night, councilman at large Jeff Fusco and I celebrated a great victory for this neighborhood. As a result, I was proud to be the first non-graduate of East to be inducted into this High School’s hall of fame, who is not a teacher or coach.

            This is the second lesson that I carry with me -- the power of ordinary people, working together, collaborating on an issue that’s bigger than each of them, can be the biggest force for change.

            I will never forget that the people I represent have the real power of government in their hands.

            I know the importance of neighborhoods. Since 2012, I have aggressively pursued the demolition of 155 properties in the tenth ward alone. An abandoned house is a thief that steals the value of neighboring properties. I know first-hand how lots with high weeds, junk cars and barking dogs impact a neighborhood.

            These may seem trivial to people who live on their large suburban lots. But when we choose to live in a city, we also make a compact that we will treat each other like we want to be treated ourselves. Our lives are joined together.

            I hope I’ve been a good councilman. I’ve tried to speak up for my ward, but I also have championed the city as a whole.

            As chairman of Council’s Finance Committee, I joined the Mayor and Finance Director at meetings of our bonding agencies in New York.

            As president of city council, I worked with our Economic Development team at trade fairs in Israel and in Hannover and Frankfurt Germany. Our work at these shows has produced more than 2,000 jobs for Akron people over the last 20 years.     

            And I accompanied the Greater Akron Chamber and business leaders on a joint mission to China, where we have been successful in attracting investment for Akron-based companies.

            I can’t tell you everything that I will do as Mayor, but we will certainly continue the work started by Mayor Plusquellic to make the creation of jobs for the people of Akron as JOB ONE for the city.

            Today, employers are often locating where the talent is. And when I talk to the executives of Goodyear, Bridgestone, and our hospitals, the attraction and retention of talent is often their highest priority. That’s why tomorrow…my first day on the job… I have scheduled a meeting in the mayor’s office with those men and women who are recruiting talent for Akron companies. I want to be sure that whatever they need to be successful, that the city is doing its part.

            That means developing the types of housing that young people want, and it means supporting successful programs that we sponsor like Better Blocks, Open Streets, concerts at Lock 3 and Lock 4, concerts in neighborhoods, and our strong support for the arts.

            And it means working with our partners in the community, including the generous support our city has received from the Knight Foundation and Akron Community Foundation for many of these activities.   

            I look forward to working with Summit County executive Russ Pry, the mayors of our neighboring cities, our federal and state legislators, and the business community to ensure that Akron is a good partner to improve the quality of life in our region.

            It was important for me to return here today to take the oath of office. The people of Ward 10 and the community of East High School have been loyal to me, and I want to make sure that they know I will never forget them.

            Akron is different than other cities. Akron is better than other cities, because we have a history of having a vision collectively, for the entire city.

            Our success as a community is directly related to the fact that in Akron, good, honest people working towards a shared vision of the future can accomplish great things.

            I commit to you today my energy, my enthusiasm, and the lessons I have learned in my life of public service to make Akron even better.

            And with gratitude and great pride, I look forward to the opportunity to serve the city I love.                           

For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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