NORTH ROYALTON – Five candidates are pursuing the open mayor seat, a pool that includes three longtime councilmen, a former school board member and a radio personality.

Mayor Bob Stefanik is nearing the end of his third and final four-year term. His last day in office will be Dec. 31 because he is term limited as elected officials in North Royalton can only serve for 12 consecutive years in any one seat, per the city charter.

Voting by mail opens Oct. 8 and the election is Nov. 5. Should the winner fail to secure 40 percent of the vote, it will spark a runoff in December between the two highest vote getters.

Running for mayor are Ward 1 Councilman John Nickell, Council President Larry Antoskiewicz, Ward 2 Councilman Gary Petrusky, Maria E. Cross and Barbara Ann Zindroski.

John NickellNickell, 56, has served as Ward 1 councilman since the end of 2007 and currently chairs council’s Building and Building Codes Committee. His is term limited. At his day job, he is technology coordinator for the North Royalton School District.

Nickell said he is the most qualified candidate because he has a business background from the University of Akron and vast experience supporting people in various professions.

“Too many people have shared with me their concern that we have stagnated as a community and are not seeing business expand. They say we are not friendly to businesses as compared to the cities surrounding us. Thriving businesses keep the residents’ taxes stable,” he said.

Stormwater issues was the main reason he sought office and will continue to be at the forefront, as will street congestion, Nickell said.

“It is because of this passion I look at our flooding issues and say we can do better. When I was the chairman of the Streets Committee, we totally changed how we repair streets. Now we need to address the congestion in our city because there is currently no long-range plan ... to address the growing congestion and safety at our intersections,” he said.

Larry AntoskiewiczAntoskiewicz, 65, has served on council since 2006, when he was appointed Ward 5 councilman.

He became council president in 2011 and currently chairs the North Royalton Planning Commission and council’s Finance Committee. Antoskiewicz is retired from work as a Teamster business agent.

He said with so many upcoming changes, it will be “vital” to have a mayor in office who understands the operation and procedures of the city.

“I have the experience and leadership to move us forward in a positive direction. My proven leadership and experience guarantee an agenda that will maintain the conservative spending and responsible management of our tax dollars, but still provide quality municipal services, without raising taxes,” Antoskiewicz said.

He plans to expand the focus on infrastructure and storm water improvements; develop a plan for all city property and state Route 82, exploring future connectivity opportunities; update the appearance of the city, while preserving its character; and start a city-sponsored “Shop North Royalton” program to enhance awareness and support of local businesses.

Gary PetruskyPetrusky, 55, has served as Ward 2 councilman since the end of 2007, and is also term limited. He chairs the Stormwater Committee and has served on Finance for years. He works at PNC Bank’s balance sheet analytics and modeling department and has 25 years’ experience in finances.

Petrusky said his 12 years of experience on council and more than 25 years in the finance industry make him the right choice.

His plan is conservative spending without sacrificing services; stormwater upgrades; tax base growth; pursuit of outside grant funding for infrastructure needs; and increased connectivity through walk and bike paths.

“My business plan will keep a tight budget without sacrificing services. My vision includes moving the water out of North Royalton faster, reducing the flooding concerns by upgrading systems; growing our industrial parkway to help relieve the tax burden from the residents; working to create self-funded ways for our infrastructure projects, which will free up tax dollars, easing the burden on our residents; and creating walk and bike paths for residents so we can move throughout the city freely while having safe travels,” Petrusky said.

Maria E. CrossCross, 54, is a political newcomer, who works for Channel 3 doing voice work and feature lifestyle reporting. She is also the radio personality Desiray Cross on WDOK 102.1 and is a children’s author. She has worked in payroll for a major airline and was payroll clerk and a senior legal clerk for the city of Cleveland.

She said growing up in Royalton, she’s seen first-hand the growth of the city and with growth comes responsibility.

“We need to have better representation of what North Royalton residents want and need. I don’t like wet basements, I don’t like vacant buildings, I don’t like dangerous intersections. I have unique ideas that will help to curb and hopefully eliminate these issues,” Cross said. “My more than 25 years in marketing and PR affords me the opportunity to think ‘outside the box’ and work with people of differing opinions and practices in a cordial, unified manner.”

She said she will also bring financial transparency to the role, giving weekly updates about expenditures on the city’s website. The city’s finances are currently available on the Ohio Checkbook, a government transparency website showing taxpayers how their money is spent.

Cross is named in civil court cases regarding tax liens and bankruptcies dating as far back as 23 years ago and as recently as 10 years ago but said they were not her doing.

“I learned the hard way how important financial transparency is going through two bad marriages where I trusted my husband to take care of the finances only to learn when getting divorced they paid nothing. I worked two full-time jobs and paid off every cent owed,” she assured.

Barbara Ann ZindroskiZindroski, 67, is a retired career and technical educator.

She served on the North Royalton School Board from 2005-2009 and 2011-2015 where she was known for being critical of district spending and operations. She ultimately lost her seat in 2015.

She said she is the only candidate presenting a solid, proven plan focused on establishing a strong commercial tax base to bring tax relief to residents.

Zindroski also intends to redirect the bulk of the mayor’s salary, which will be $100,524.26 from 2020-2023, to the hiring of a city manager experienced in finance and public administration to run the city rather than a politician.

“The mayor’s position and pay will reflect a part-time status, working primarily with council members on policy and legislation. The city manager, YouTube — City Manager Panel, will implement those policies, supervise projects, manage day-to-day activities and city employees,” she said. “I have been a member of the school board, the recreational board, CERT and other civic organizations, and have extensive managerial, organizational and finance experience. It’s your money, choose wisely.”

The city charter would have to be revised to allow the proposed city manager style of government, which would necessitate a ballot issue.

“If I am voted in ... it’s a heads up that this is what the public wants,” Zindroski said of the city-manager concept.