Campaign 2019: Meika Penta
Staff Interview, 09-26-2019

Current At-large Councilwoman Meika Penta is seeking the Ward 3 seat on Cuyahoga Falls City Council.
Image Provided by Meika Penta
The Falls Free Press team has worked up a series of questions that we are sending to city council candidates on this year's ballot. We are sending the same questions to all candidates with some subtle differences—if a candidate is an incumbent, the questions are phrased a little differently. For instance, if we are asking an incumbent why they voted a certain way on a vote before council, we will ask the challenger how they would have voted had they been on council for that vote. We have now solicited responses from all council candidates in this year’s election.

For our fourth interview in this series, we are publishing the responses we received from At-large Councilwoman Meika Penta. Penta is seeking the Ward 3 seat on council, which she also sought in 2017, but which she lost to the incumbent, Vic Pallotta, by a margin of about 10%. With Pallotta retiring from his seat, Penta is once again seeking to represent Ward 3. Since February, Penta has served as an at-large councilwoman, appointed by the Democratic Precinct Committee after Paul Colavecchio vacated his seat. We reached the councilwoman via email on September 24th.

We have decided to publish the answers we receive from all candidates separately, so if we receive answers from Penta’s challenger, we will publish them in short order, but in the meantime, we present Councilwoman Penta’s response below.

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FFP: What do you bring to Cuyahoga Falls as a member of city council that was lacking from that body or other areas of leadership before your appointment, and how have your plans or ideas bettered every citizen?

PENTA: Being the newest member on council I bring a fresh voice and perspective to city issues, particularly issues in Ward 3. Being proactive is important. Whether it’s a newly formed pothole or a blinking streetlight, I am checking on various issues around the city and making sure they are corrected before they become more serious problems for our residents. Additionally, I’m working with the Parks and Recreation department on finding ways to correct issues within Babb Run Bird and Wildlife Sanctuary. These include removal of fallen trees across hiking trails, installation of a dog waste station, repairs to signage, adding more picnic tables, and enhancing the entrance to Babb Run. My goal is to rejuvenate Babb Run Park so it is one of the premier parks to visit and enjoy in our community. I am also the only council member with children in our school district, so I understand the importance of the city and schools working in concert with one another.

FFP: How have you been active in the community, and how have you improved communication to keep Cuyahoga Falls residents informed about their city and seek their input in the decision-making process?

PENTA: I've volunteered in our schools and participated in the city's Adopt-A-Spot and River Clean Up programs for several years. Communication with residents is very important and I use multiple means to ensure I reach as many people as possible. I maintain a Facebook page, circulate newsletters, attend neighborhood meetings, and go door-to-door to keep residents informed about city news and events. Residents can also call or email me with questions or concerns.

FFP: What are your thoughts on the successes or lack thereof as far as Portage Crossing and the Downtown Transformation? What have you done to increase the success of these projects?

PENTA: Both Portage Crossing and the Downtown Transformation have proven to be great successes and continue to evolve to meet the needs of our community. I look forward to working with the administration in growing and attracting more businesses and recreational activities to both projects. Additionally, I'm focusing efforts on improving the State Road corridor in Ward 3 where I have identified several opportunities for growth and improvement.

FFP: If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

PENTA: I would want to hold several meetings with residents to get their feedback on what should be done. If I had to personally decide I would divide it up between our safety forces and enhancing our parks. I want to ensure our police and fire have everything they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently and add more recreational activities to our parks.

FFP: Where are your favorite places to spend time in our town?

PENTA: I enjoy bragging about all the great things Cuyahoga Falls has to offer. From beautiful parks to a rejuvenated Downtown, there is so much to do in our city now! Some of my favorite things are hiking, attending events on Front Street, going to concerts and comedy shows, and dining at the many unique restaurants in our city. Just recently I enjoyed tubing down the Cuyahoga River and ending the day dining outdoors on Front Street while enjoying the excitement of Oktoberfest. Being able to do that is one of the many reasons I enjoy calling Cuyahoga Falls home!

FFP: How did you vote on the Sycamore development rezoning amendment, Tobacco 21 initiative, and/or other legislation when it came to a vote, and why did you vote that way?

PENTA: I voted for the Sycamore development rezoning amendment for several reasons. First, residential zoning was the logical way to proceed versus commercial development in terms of revenue for the city and Woodridge School District. Second, the developers went above and beyond the requirements for storm water quality and runoff protection required by code and their plans were approved by the planning commission. If council had not approved the rezoning we put the city at risk for a costly lawsuit. Finally, residential development will likely help keep our population above 50,000. This allows us to maintain much needed HUD revenue so we can continue to make improvements throughout the city.

I fully support efforts to curb teenage smoking and vaping however this Tobacco 21 initiative wasn't an optimal solution. In many cases underage smokers need only drive a few minutes to leave our city and purchase tobacco products elsewhere so the effect of the legislation would have been minimal. I firmly believed that the State of Ohio needed to act on this, and they have since passed a state-wide version of Tobacco 21 that puts our city on a level playing field with neighboring cities.

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The Falls Free Press wishes to thank Councilwoman Penta for her responses, and we look forward to hearing from the other candidates on this year's ballot.

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