Marcus Madison has come a long way from when he was a fresh-faced 22-year-old running for Elyria City Council eight years ago.
Now 30 and seeking a fifth term representing the city's 5th Ward, Madison has grown into a confident and experienced elected official with an important voice in city affairs.
Madison, a Democrat, recognizes that the city and his ward face serious challenges and he isn't afraid to go looking for solutions or to prod the city's administration to do better. He argued that the administration isn't doing enough to be transparent and sometimes fails to provide enough information to City Council.
That might be a fair criticism, but Madison is sometimes guilty of similar behavior himself, especially in a series of letters to the editor he's written in recent months attacking Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka's "department," as he often describes it, but without identifying her by name.
Madison told us the point of his letters is to show that "things in our city are not going well," but his letters fail to explain clearly just how he thinks the city should address the challenges it faces.
Still, Madison has proven his dedication to the city's south side, pushing to make improvements in transportation, safety, services and community pride for his constituents. He also spoke passionately about finding ways to lure jobs to the area and the minigrant program he helped bring to the ward to fund small projects to better the community.
Madison has never hidden his ambition to run for mayor one day, although exactly when, or if, that will happen he declined to say. That might be for the best because while Madison is an able member of Council, he hasn't yet developed the vision necessary to be an effective mayor.
"This city is in my heart," he said, adding that he plans to continue working in city government for as long as voters will have him.
Some voters may hesitate to vote for Madison based on his arrest in Bay Village in May on a DUI charge, to which he has pleaded not guilty. That incident may end up proving to have been poor judgment on his part, but even if he's convicted, a single mistake in his personal life shouldn't disqualify him from continuing to serve residents.
Madison's opponent, Leigh Ann Arroyo, faces an uphill battle, not only because she's challenging an incumbent, but because her name isn't actually on the ballot.
The 32-year-old stay-at-home mom is running as a write-in candidate, which means voters need to remember to do more than just check a box if they want to vote for her.
Arroyo told us she decided to run after showing up at her polling place in May to vote for Madison and being told there wasn't a Democratic primary because Madison was running unopposed. She has since thrown herself into running as a write-in candidate, rightly pointing out that competition at the ballot box is good for the public.
Arroyo seems dedicated to fixing issues in the 5th Ward ranging from sprucing it up, especially the side streets, to dealing with the opioid crisis. She is also a regular attendee of Council meetings, but that doesn't mean she is ready to make the jump to being a member.
Arroyo simply lacks the experience and in-depth knowledge that would make her the better choice to represent the 5th Ward.
Madison has served his constituents well and should be given the chance to continue to do so.
Voters in the 5th Ward should re-elect Marcus Madison.