Tom Plunkett said he is running for mayor "to revitalize Aurora by creating a truly vibrant city center, connecting the various neighborhoods and vastly improving our recreational opportunities."
Plunkett, who is the fire chief in Reminderville and a senior fire captain for the Maple Heights Fire Department, said he also wants to "offer the citizens the benefit of my extensive, hands-on municipal government leadership experience to accomplish those endeavors."
Plunkett, 52, filed petitions last week with the Portage County Board of Elections to run for mayor in the November general election. Others who have filed petitions as of Aug. 5 are John J. Kudley Jr. and John Monroe.
Current Mayor James Fisher previously announced he will not seek election to any office.
Plunkett lives with wife Mary Lou. Son Tommy also lives in Aurora.
Plunkett grew up in Cleveland Heights, graduated from Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas, served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, then moved to Aurora permanently 13 years ago. His wife is a graduate of Brush High School in Lyndhurst.
Plunkett graduated from the National Fire Academy in Emmittsburg, Md., and the Cuyahoga County Fire Academy in Parma. He has worked part time for the Reminderville Fire Department since 1989 and has been chief since 1998. He has been employed full time by the Maple Heights Fire Department since 1990.
Plunkett said if he is elected mayor, he would resign from the Maple Heights and Reminderville fire departments.
Plunkett has never held a political office.
"I am not a career politician, and that is an important distinction," he said. "I am a firefighter, husband, father and neighbor."
If elected, he said he looked forward to "watching the citizens of Aurora enjoying the results of a vibrant community while still embracing their heritage."
If elected, he said the first thing he'd do is "rapidly assemble the resources, people and the processes to immediately implement more active parks and recreation facilities and the re-vitalization of our city center. We need to mimic the recent successes of surrounding communities.
"Think of downtown Hudson, Chagrin Falls and Kent. Their revitalizations have been astounding and turned them into destination cities. They offer a healthy variety of entertainment, restaurants, outdoor cafes, shopping, open air markets and active recreation. We can do the same, only better."
Plunkett said he has learned many things from his job and life experiences that would help him if elected. "The last 15 years, I've been administering and managing people, finances and resources to provide essential services.
"In my job, I have honed the ability to rapidly identify problems and implement immediate solutions. I have learned that careful planning, communication and cooperation can minimize any potential pitfalls. I have learned to be a careful shepherd of the community's financial resources."
He said he has worked closely with the administrations of seven mayors.
"I have learned what works and, more importantly, what doesn't, in local government," he said. "I have learned that as a community, we need to take good care of our seniors, provide them with what they need to thrive and hold them in the revered status they deserve.
"I have learned that any entity that is not constantly evaluating itself, improving and changing, if necessary, is destined to decline. I have learned that Aurora has great people, and excellent schools and neighborhoods, but needs new faces in City Hall, new ideas and new leadership to make us a vibrant, fun, active community. Most importantly, I've learned how to get results."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC