There are two seats up for election on the Brookfield Township Board of Trustees. Trustee Dan Suttles,
who is completing his first term, is running again, while Trustee Gary Lees has announced he is not
seeking re-election. Catherine Hodge and Mark Ferrara also are running.
Trustees are paid according to the Ohio Revised Code. In 2022, Brookfield trustees will be eligible to
make $14,590 a year. They also have access to the township’s health care coverage.
The election will be held Nov. 2.
Catherine Hodge, 57, of 7808 Warren Sharon Road. She is an operating room secretary for St. Joseph Warren Hospital.
Why are you running for trustee?
Hodge: “We need some change in Brookfield Township. The way the current trustees have it now, it’s a little biased. It’s a little one-sided. Without Gary going up for re-election, it probably won’t be that way
anymore. It seemed like it was always two against one. We just can’t keep tearing everything down. I understand the blight and everything, but you gotta build some things up. We gotta get some businesses in
here. If not new business, then let’s help promote some of the home businesses that people have. A lot of people in the community have home businesses. We just need some changes. It’s been a boy’s club for a
little too long. Maybe, I can have a different perspective, a woman’s perspective.”
How is the board biased?
Hodge: “I believe it’s been one-sided. For the longest time, Gary Lees and Ron Haun are mostly together.
Dan come in and was, to me, a breath of fresh air. It was, ‘Let’s get a different thought process in some of
this stuff.’ Even with the one before (Dion Magestro), the three of them just kind of ruled with whatever
they wanted to do. I don’t plan on just siding with one or siding with the other. I plan on listening to
everything that goes on and taking all the facts in and making decisions that way.”
What can a trustee do to stimulate business development?
Hodge: “We have to try to sell the community. We have to try to sell the good spots here in the
community. There’s ample space for businesses. How about another grocery store? Maybe, we can try and
get an Aldi’s in here, or something like that. Or, another pizza place up there on the corner. They just keep
tearing everything down and it’s just empty. Valley View, to me, is one of the biggest eyesores. The
corner up there on 7 and Warren Sharon Road, they just bought the Belly Buster, but that whole corner
needs cleaned up. To help promote some home businesses, we have that board up there in the community
square, right up there at the center. They can flash those all day long.”
What would you like to do as a trustee?
Hodge: “We have to get the Over the Hill Gang back. We have to try to get them back from Hubbard. I
have a lot of ideas. It’s hard to put them into a thought process in this little bit of conversation. I would
like to make some changes. I would like to make even a center for just the seniors, or a center for the
youth, because there’s really nothing for the kids to do here. Nothing. I’ve talked to people and they’d like
to do something like that, they’d like to see something like that, something for the kids, even if it’s like a
rec center or something. Keep them out of trouble. I know Dan wants them to, I’ve heard him say, even at
the trustee meetings, about trying to get them to do things in the community, more involved in the
community. Some type of rec center might be able to do that. They want to come and plan things and help
do things in the community, not just cleaning up and stuff like that, really do stuff in the community, just
like, work with the schools and stuff like that. I know (Trustee) Gary Lees said something about him
working with the seniors and stuff, so I don’t know exactly what he did or what he’s done, but to improve
on whatever it was. Apparently, the Over the Hill Gang’s gone, so, we need to get them back.”
Do you advocate using local money for a rec center, or are you talking about partnerships and grants?
Hodge: “I’m sure there can be grants, I haven’t really looked into anything like that. Maybe, donations
and parts of the township money. What’s going on up at the park? There’s really nothing but baseball
fields up there. I wouldn’t mind putting some pavilions up there and renting them out like Hubbard does.
That would make money. That would bring some money in towards the park. Something for the kids to
do, because all there really is is the baseball fields.”
What have people been talking to you about?
Hodge: “When I was getting my signatures and stuff, they talked about, I did talk to someone at the
school and he was the one that suggested a rec center or something like that, so I could work with him. I
would love to work with him and do that, stuff for the kids to do. Even when I’ve talked to the elderly,
just some place to go, some place to do something, even if we were to rent out or buy the old K of C
(Knights of Columbus building) up there on the West Hill, and redo that.
Dan Suttles, 63, of 7481 Oakwood Drive. He is a retired Warren firefighter.
Why are you running again?
Suttles: “I have really enjoyed the last four years. I was able to extend my public service life as I did as a firemen. This end, it’s been really enjoyable, the ability to help people with little problems, with big problems, and just maybe make a difference in the township.”
What have been the accomplishments of your first term?
Suttles: “My number one accomplishment: I think I’ve opened up the lines of communication with the residents. The social media end with the Facebook and Instagram; our website, we have improved it. Even the electronic sign (on the township green), we can get more information out to the public. That’s
my number one accomplishment. I’ve been able to expand our listening to interested parties that come to our meetings. I don’t know that’s because of me, but I know that I went to township trustee meetings prior to me becoming trustee, and there were probably seven or eight people there. We were averaging, prior to COVID, 30 to 40 people in a meeting, so more people were getting involved in what township
government is, and I think I helped that happen.”
What issues would you like to work on in a second term?
Suttles: “I looked at my checklist of things when I campaigned that I wanted to do, and I think I’ve
accomplished most of them, but the one thing I wanted to do is revisit our senior watch program. That
was one of goals, my first term, and I didn’t get to that, but I think that’s a critical one, and there’s a need
out there. We have a senior population, and I want to reach out and start that program back up again. I’m
excited about that. That’s a biggie.”
“The thing we really need to put high up there is the condition of our roads. I think that’s something we
can’t hold off any longer.”
What are people asking you about?
Suttles: “I think the public would like to see what we’re doing, first of all, and be involved. I think that’s
happened more. I’ve noticed, even a little uptick in young people wanting to know what the township
actually does. I’m encouraged by that. When I was a young person, I followed national politics, but I
never ever thought the township government was important. I’ve learned in the past four years that it’s
probably the rawest form of government that you’ll get. It’s nonpartisan. It’s helping people. People act
like they want to know more, what’s going on in the township. I want to continue to build on that and I
have some ideas down the road. One of my ideas, if I get elected again, I’d like to have some type of
mentor program where, if somebody may be interested in being a township trustee down the road, to
maybe shadow me. Let’s face it, you can be a trustee and just come to meetings, but that’s not what it’s
about. I think our township trustees, all of us, are involved in the community quite a bit. I’d like to show
somebody that’s interested, encourage them and show them what it takes and maybe we can come up with
great leaders down the road.”
Mark Ferrara, 63, of 999 Taylor St. He is a retired public and private school administrator, teacher and coach.
Why are you running for trustee?
Ferrara: “I wanna give back to the community. I’m a service person. I’ve serviced all my life in schools and many different boards I’m on. I wanna give back and make Brookfield a great place again.”
Is Brookfield not a great place now?
Ferrara: “It’s not as great as it was, let me say that. I think things are slipping. I think we have no industry. Like every community, you can always do better, right?”
What can a trustee do to bring back industry?
Ferrara: “Communicate with people. Work with our colleagues throughout the county and the region and the state. Brookfield has a lot to offer. Focus on the good. I think there’s communication gaps, which happens. I’d like to work on that in a positive way. Just listen to people. Cooperate with others and try to build a productive plan that we all can support and work to better.”
What are Brookfield’s good parts?
Ferrara: “People are loyal. People stay in place. I think the schools are improving. Economy is
reasonable. Housing is reasonable. I think people love Brookfield. People who grew up here, leave, come
back often. I think we need to listen to what the needs are and work with our neighboring communities,
see what we can share and where we can save costs and do things better collectively.”
What other issues do you want to address?
Ferrara: “Blight in our neighborhoods, housing. Try to expand sewer where possible.”
What are people talking about to you?
Ferrara: “They run the gamut. Communication isn’t as consistent as they would like. I think people want revenue. Some of the bigger areas are getting it. We are getting grants and things, which is nice. I think we need to meet regularly.”
How should communication be improved?
Ferrara: “We can use the technology that’s in place, we can have regular meetings, town meetings, reach
out to people. It’s kind of cliché, but the coffee klatches and just kind of get together in informal and
formal ways. The phone. Talk to people.”