Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Men who would be mayor of Norwood spar over money

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - The city's budget was one of the main topics Monday as the mayor of three months and a councilman each tried to make his own case to be elected mayor.

"This is a critical year for us," Mayor Victor Schneider said during the lunch-time debate at Norwood's Quality Hotel and Suites.

Sponsored by the Norwood Chamber of Commerce, the debate will appear on public access television at 8 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Voters will make their choice Nov. 4.

Democratic Councilman Thomas Williams, a retired Norwood police captain, is running against Schneider, whom the Republican Party appointed in June to replace Joe Hochbein. Williams ran unsuccessfully against Hochbein four years ago; Schneider was Hochbein's public-works director.

The candidates sparred over the city's budget Monday, with Williams calling for more discipline in city spending. Norwood is in danger of falling $2 million into the red next year, he said, because it spent too much when the economy was booming.

"We borrowed money like there was going to be no end to this ... and what happened? The economy changed," he said. "When I was going door to door, someone asked, 'Will you fix my street?' I said no."

Norwood needs to pay back the money it has borrowed and not add a lot of city services, Schneider agreed. Still, he said, the loans were taken out for necessary expenses such as a new police headquarters and a new roof on City Hall.

"Same old, same old," Williams retorted in the debate's only heated exchange.

" 'Same old, same old' is ridiculous," Schneider snapped. "What I just talked about is debt reduction."

The Norwood mayor is not a member of council but rather the city's day-to-day chief executive. During his tenure, Hochbein was indicted on 14 counts of theft in office and falsification but was found guilty of only one misdemeanor. He resigned in May after months of skipping council meetings.

Schneider said he would restore faith in the office by working with other elected officials and being available and approachable. Williams said he'd put in eight hours a day, plus meetings.


E-mail candrews@enquirer.com

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