Sunday, June 22, 2003

Mayor wants to see, be seen

Norwood's leader pledges to be active

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

When American Cancer Society volunteers arrived Friday at Withrow High School, they were impressed to see Norwood Mayor Vic Schneider already there, pitching tents for an overnight fund-raising event.

The new mayor, whose four children were frolicking nearby, said that Norwood residents should get used to the sight. He wants to be a visible force in this city, even if it means ruffling some feathers.

"Joe Hochbein is not the mayor of the city of Norwood any more," he said. "People will know me more ... because I will be involved in Cub Scouts, involved in my church, (and) involved in so many civic events that I don't need to throw my name on signs everywhere.".

Schneider, 38, will be sworn in todayas Norwood's mayor, replacing fellow Republican Joe Hochbein. The former mayor resigned on May 31 - several months before his second term would have expired. In his wake, he left behind an administration known for poor spending habits and heated partisan squabbles.

Because Hochbein was rarely seen at City Hall, Schneider is in a tricky situation.

His friends, family and colleagues say he's energetic, trustworthy, cooperative and open-minded and has other qualities that will make him a good leader for this city of about 22,000 residents.

The problem is that council members aren't used to a visible mayor with a strong will and determination to spark change. And some council members already have criticism for Schneider's work as Norwood's public works superintendent, which was his position before being chosen to replace Hochbein by Norwood's Republican Party.

Council members were miffed when Schneider recently removed and covered Hochbein's name on all the signs at the city's boundaries.

"He's trying to show that he's the big man," Councilman Will DeLuca said. However, "this is a time when we really need to focus as a city and look at ways we can cut costs and bring a feeling of solidarity back to city government."

The new mayor said he'll respect the council member's experience, encourage frank dialogue and try to live by a Boy Scout motto that has guided him throughout his life. The motto is simply: "Do your best."

"When what you do has a direct bearing on so many lives, you'll have people who are naysayers. (But) if I treat them with the respect that they deserve, they will treat me with the respect that I think that I deserve, too."

From 1983 to 1989, Schneider was assistant manager of Amberley Village. He next became a sales and marketing manager for Sumitomo Sitix Silicon Inc. of Maineville. He left the $80,000-a-year job to return to municipal government in 2001.

As mayor, he will receive a $35,500 salary. If he is elected to the position in November, the pay will drop to $31,950, the result of a 10 percent pay cut that elected officials will take to help the city cope with its financial troubles.


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