“We don’t have a key to the city,” Brookfield Trustee Dan Suttles said. But he did have a set of keys to the township administration building, so he handed those to Shannon Devitz after he swore her in as a township trustee.
“I just want to thank you all for coming and being supportive,” Devitz said at the Dec. 31 ceremony. “I’m very excited to get started. I’m very excited to work with both of them (Suttles and Trustee Mark Ferrara) and show the people of Brookfield how we can work together and get some stuff done. Thank you all, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
The event capped a politically interesting six weeks following the resignation of Trustee Ron Haun, which became effective Nov. 15. Suttles and Ferrara put out the call for people who wanted to be appointed to complete the remaining year of Haun’s term, and 12 applied, a figure that surprised Suttles, Ferrara and many others in town.
Devitz put her name in, along with Dustin Ghizzoni, Timothy M. Gladis, Catherine Hodge, Josy Kirila, Frederick L. Longley, Dion Magestro, John Martin, John P. O’Brien, Roseann Sereday, Robert C. Wilson and Blake Yendrek.
The candidates were interviewed publicly, but separately, on Dec. 7, and Suttles and Ferrara went into executive session to discuss the candidates. They emerged after 90 minutes deadlocked. They got together again Dec. 9, spent 45 minutes in private session, and still couldn’t agree.
Longley said the trustees were being “very honest, open. I gotta commend them for doing such a good job.”
On Dec. 15 – the last day they had to make an appointment – the trustees adopted a resolution passing the matter onto Trumbull County Probate Court Judge James Fredericka, following the process set in the Ohio Revised Code.
Fredericka could have chosen any process he wanted to make the appointment, but decided to work from the list of 12, said Suttles, relaying what Fredericka told him. Fredericka wanted someone who could work with the sitting trustees and was “all in to help Brookfield Township,” Suttles said.
Fredericka interviewed Suttles and Ferrara, Devitz and other candidates, and announced his decision to appoint Devitz on Dec. 29.
Devitz has been “all in” for Brookfield since moving into town in 2017. She has volunteered at the school and participated in levy campaigns. She served on the Brookfield Township Historical Commission, the Brookfield Township Exterior Property Maintenance Code Appeals Board, the Brookfield Township Zoning Committee and the committee for the successful effort to pass a 3.5-mill road levy in November.
“Without her leadership, we may not have had this result,” Ferrara said of the road levy. “I’m sure that’s just a testimony as to what’s to come. Welcome aboard.”
“Shannon is not a stranger,” Suttles said. “She’s been involved in a lot of things for Brookfield Township. She’s been a warrior out there fighting for us and trying to get things together. We’re very appreciative of that.”
During her public interview Dec. 9, Devitz noted the work she had already done in the township.
“I can be very passionate,” said the married mother of an 8-year-old boy. “Being an outsider, I think I have a different perspective on the community and how things work. Sometimes, when you’re in a place for years, you kind of become complacent. I think I would bring a different set of eyes to the board, new energy. I think I’ve done that through my different commissions, levies. I try to look at things differently and try to give it a little bit more energy and love towards the particular thing that I’m working for or fighting for.”
She said she would like to run for a four-year term later this year, and the one-year appointment would be a “good test” to see if she can juggle the position with her job as a graphic designer and the parent of an elementary student.
“I feel, personally, I have proven myself that I’m committed to the community,” Devitz said. “I could have thrown in the towel after the zoning debacle. That was pretty rough. I took a little time off and then I came back and threw myself back into things. I think what separates me from that is that I have great relationships with everyone within the township, the school, fire, police and even within the walls of this building.”
The zoning debacle Devitz referred to was the unsuccessful zoning effort in 2018, which opened her up to a lot of social media criticism for her pro-zoning stance.
“I’d like to publicly state – I have no intention on bringing zoning up in my term,” she said Dec. 31.