Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

City Council Voter’s Guide

Incumbent Candidates: 

Bryan Burgess, 44, is the current president of Oberlin City Council and has served six terms on the Council. Burgess is an Oberlin High School graduate, received a bachelor’s degree in Business Computer Systems from New Mexico State University, and is now a contractor who owns and operates Burgess Electric. He is a passionate advocate for renewable energy and energy efficiency, a cause which resulted in Oberlin’s electric utility achieving a carbon-neutral portfolio and establishing an Office of Sustainability. Burgess is now focused on building a new green industrial park to provide additional job opportunities and economic development in keeping with Oberlin’s environmental ethics. 

Ray English, 76, served as Director of Libraries at Oberlin College for 25 years from 1990 to 2015. English is in his third term on Oberlin City Council and previously served as co-chair of the City’s Human Relations Commission. English feels strongly about housing of all kinds, especially affordable housing. He supports developing the economy to create jobs, retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones, and keeping Oberlin’s downtown healthy and vibrant. He wants to see improved relations between the College and the community and improve the effectiveness of city government. “I’m running for reelection to city council because I believe I have helped bring positive change to Oberlin and I want to continue to make a difference,” English wrote in an email to the Review. “I believe Oberlin is a wonderful community that can become even better. While we are making progress with social equity, we can be more just and more inclusive and we can continue to build on our remarkable record of sustainability. I want to continue working for that kind of change.”

Eboni Johnson, 48, grew up in Elyria and graduated from Oberlin College in 1997. She returned to Oberlin in 2009 to join the Oberlin College Libraries. She has served on the Social Equity Working Group since 2020, and before being elected to City Council in 2021, she was a member of the Human Relations Commission from 2018. Johnson’s contribution to the community includes serving on the board of the Oberlin Heritage Center, the United Way of Greater Lorain County, and the League of Women Voters of the Oberlin Area. “I am seeking re-election to Oberlin City Council to continue the initiatives already underway in the areas of reproductive freedom, environmental sustainability, affordable housing, and safe transportation,” Johnson wrote in an email to the Review.

Michael McFarlin, 50, is a current member of Oberlin City Council and the Head of Library Technology and Systems at Oberlin College. McFarlin grew up in northern Ohio and is a United States Army Veteran. He is a member of the Oberlin Community Improvement Corporation, vice chair of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, and a previous chair of the Historic Preservation Commission for the City. He is passionate about addressing the City’s housing issues, improving communications among all groups in the City, and promoting the City of Oberlin and Oberlin College as the arts and culture hub of our region. McFarlin believes in ongoing service to one’s community, and he recognizes the importance of including all voices when considering policies that impact our residents. In an email to the Review, McFarlin wrote that his priorities are “working for smart, sustainable, and equitable growth; fostering a connected, collaborative, and inclusive community; and supporting a vibrant, colorful, and fun City of Oberlin.”

Elizabeth Meadows, 78, has been an Oberlin resident since 2001. She has served on numerous City commissions including, but not limited to, Open Space and Visual Environment, Human Relations, and Recreation. She is Council Advisor to the Underground Railroad Implementation Team. For the past decade she has been an enthusiastic advocate for enhancing art in public spaces. Meadows is a member of Community Connection, a group composed of people from Oberlin College and people from the City of Oberlin whose mission is to enhance the relationship and communication between the College and the City. Meadows is seeking reelection to see completion of a few projects initiated by the present council. These projects include construction of two multi-use paths to enhance pedestrian and bicycle traffic parallel to Route 58 from Hamilton south to Route 20 and on South Park Drive from Lorain to the elementary school campus. Additionally, she wants to see construction of affordable housing on infill lots.

Kristin Peterson, 72, graduated from Oberlin College in 1972. She is a retired 35-year educator and the former owner of the UPS Store. Peterson has been on the City Council for 8 years. Peterson is a City Council representative for the Ohio Municipal Electric Association Board and the Central Lorain County Ambulance Board. She is currently on the Charter Review Committee and the Cable Co-op Board. Former boards include the Elyria YWCA, Lorain County Developmental Disabilities, Oberlin Community Improvement Organization, Mercy Allen Foundation, Neighborhood House Association (now Neighborhood Alliance), and the Oberlin College Committee for Shareholder Responsibility. “I have and will continue to support increased housing options in Oberlin, sustainability in all respects (affordable city services for residents, transportation options, POWER), and advocacy at state and national levels in support of public power,” Peterson wrote in an email to the Review.

Non-incumbent Candidates: 

Frieda Fuchs, 60, is a political scientist with a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, awarded in 2001. Residing in Oberlin for the past 25 years, Fuchs is married to Oberlin College Professor of Sociology Veljko Vujačić and is the parent of an Oberlin second-year student. She has previously served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Oberlin College’s Politics Department and worked as a provenance researcher for Nazi-looted art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fuchs founded the nonpartisan communal Facebook Group, “Oberlin-What Do You Have? What Do You Need?” This group boasts over 3,000 members, providing a platform for sharing information, offering volunteer work, and facilitating the sale of small items. Fuchs’ agenda focuses on several key initiatives, including investment in sustainable and affordable housing, improving transportation options for seniors and individuals with limited mobility, and enhancing well-lit pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure. Fuchs also intends to support the downtown area with tax credits and more public events. Furthermore, Fuchs is committed to addressing noise, health, and safety concerns related to EDL’s renewable natural gas plant. 

Libni López, 36, is a community organizer and has worked as a therapist for the past 12 years. He has a background in mental health and social change and “empowers individuals to thrive while advocating for stronger, more connected communities.” López is passionate about amplifying the voices of underrepresented and most vulnerable communities, ensuring their stories are heard, and advocating for their representation and equity. López is dedicated to advancing housing equity by working to eliminate barriers to affordable housing and collaborating on new policies and measures that ensure everyone has access to housing. He hopes to build a strong relationship between the City and College that is crucial for fostering a thriving community. “I’m committed to bridging the gap between the College and the community that it serves, creating opportunities for collaboration and growth,” López said.

Jessa New, 44, is a 2001 graduate of Oberlin College and the general manager and owner of Slow Train Cafe and the Local Coffee & Tea. Most recently, she has volunteered as a board member of both Oberlin Business Partnership and the Oberlin Community Improvement Corporation, in addition to being a member of the committee tasked with revising Oberlin’s Comprehensive Plan. New is passionate about economic vitality, guiding new businesses, and making Oberlin a business-friendly community. If elected, she hopes to improve City and College relations and cultivate a central hub of information, events, and activities. New also told the Review about the importance of the Social Equity Committee. “I intend to be active in the oversight of the Social Equity Plan and help facilitate quick implementation and remediation so that we no longer fall short as champions for true social equity,” New wrote in an email to the Review.

Joseph Peek, 57, comes from a family of Oberlin educators and is a former teacher from the South Bronx and Columbus. He returned to his hometown of Oberlin to care for his late mother. “As a substitute teacher in Oberlin, I see students of all grade levels and listen to the needs of the community,” Peek wrote in an email to the Review. He is passionate about sustainability initiatives, affordable housing and uniting the City and College. “My hopes are that Oberlin will speak, model and educate with one progressive voice throughout this city/county/country, for the betterment of all,” Peek wrote.

Joe Waltzer, 48, graduated from Oberlin College in 1998. Upon graduating with a degree in Environmental Studies, he stayed in Oberlin and opened two farm-to-table restaurants: Black River Café and Agave. He recently opened the Black River Wine Shop and Bar. Waltzer hopes to work with City Council members to respond to the needs of diverse communities by developing creative housing solutions. He also intends to implement effective communication strategies in order to improve relations between the City and College. Waltzer believes that there needs to be a clear path for promoting economic development in Oberlin. “For nearly 30 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with community members and local organizations to support Oberlin in reaching its full potential,” Waltzer’s website notes. “As an Oberlin City Council member, I would continue to help Oberlin grow in a way that retains our unique character and small-town charm.”

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