There's a new mayor in town.
Russell Sharnsky, the longtime Fairlawn Council president, took the oath for his new position Monday. He officially takes office on Thursday as a result of the resignation of William Roth, who had been the longest-serving mayor in Summit County in recent years.
Sharnsky is no newcomer to Fairlawn City Hall himself, having served previously as a ward councilman, on the planning commission and as at-large councilman for about 15 years — including 12 as council president.
"Roth was mayor for 27 years, and I worked with him for 20 of those years," said Sharnsky. "We were often on the same page, so I expect a smooth transition."
According to information provided by the city, the council has 30 days to appoint someone to Sharnsky's unexpired council term which, like the mayor's seat, expires Dec. 31, 2023. His at-large seat and mayor's seat will be on the Nov. 7, 2023 general election ballot.
The council will vote on a new president at its Monday meeting. That council member will serve as the president through the end of the year. In January, the council will vote on a new president and vice-president.
"I thank him for his service and his dedication to the city for 27 years," Sharnsky said of Roth. "I wish him well in his retirement. I've learned a lot from him. He's done a great job with the city, and moving the city forward."
Anyone interested in applying for the vacant at-large seat needs to be a resident of Fairlawn for at least two years, and can't be employed by the city or hold another public office, according to information provided by the city.
Those wishing to be considered must submit a letter of qualifications together with petitions signed by a minimum of 25 eligible Fairlawn voters to Tonja K. Caldwell, Clerk of Council, City of Fairlawn, 3487 South Smith Road, Fairlawn 44333 by Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.. Sample petitions may be obtained from the clerk of council between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Fairlawn Municipal Building, by email request to Caldwell@fairlawn.us, or by calling Caldwell at 330-668-9513.
Sharnsky said that as of now, he plans for running for mayor in the November 2023 election, although he added that he will wait until February or March to make an official announcement. Meanwhile, in the next year, Sharnsky said he plans to keep the current projects that have been started under Roth going forward.
"There's a lot of things that are in the works I'll need to follow through on," he said. "My prerogative is to keep in place the projects already in progress, such as Summit Connects and the centralized dispatch center."
Another ongoing project is setting a course for 62 acres of city-acquired land in the former Rosemont Country Club in the Montrose area, Sharnsky said.
"We are looking to make some improvements and making it a (nature) preserve," he said.
Ultimately, Sharnsky said he was ready for the position but realized that there would be a learning curve.
"I don't want to be too agressive," he said. "I don't know what I don't know. It's a lot of work, but I am looking forward to getting in and getting started."
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Fairlawn has new mayor for first time in 27 years