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Five days before the torch was to be passed to Leslie Brinning as the city of Sylvania’s law director, she sat in her new office Thursday mulling over files left behind by one of the city’s first law directors more than 20 years before her.
“The good thing about having Carl’s [Dorcas’] files is, [issues in local government are] a cycle, so we can go back and see what our downtown parking plan called for,” she said of the downtown’s parking lots.
She succeeds Jim Moan, who retires Wednesday after 17 years as law director. As part of the transition, Mrs. Brinning served as assistant law director the past month.
Her office is lined with steel cabinets, filled with files to use as references.
“Those are all from Carl Dorcas,” the law director who led the drafting of the city’s charter in 1961, she said.
Already on the docket of issues to research is the state of downtown parking. The issue was recently debated at council meetings since the city seeks to expand the Sylvania Municipal Court parking lot. The older files, she said, “provide a historical perspective on an issue.”
Mrs. Brinning, 36, said she is excited to start working with Mayor Craig Stough, City Council, and administrators. More importantly, she wants to be there for city residents “to work through any issues they may be having.”
Local government law is not new to her. A 2002 graduate of the University of Toledo law school, she was a secretary at Lydy & Moan, a Sylvania law firm co-owned by Mr. Moan, during her studies. Once she earned her law degree, she began to handle city business as a lawyer assisting Mr. Moan as law director.
“I really didn’t have to give her any advice because she assisted me in a lot of efforts. She has already been involved for many years and positioned herself well [for the role],” Mr. Moan said.
Mrs. Brinning will work full time as law director and be paid $90,000 annually. With Mr. Moan’s departure, the city changed its legal makeup. The part-time law director position becomes a full-time one, and economic development duties have been delegated to a new special counsel job that pays $54,000 annually.
Mr. Moan is the top candidate for the special counsel post; he worked closely with Bill Sanford, the city’s economic development director, on several business projects. The new approach, city officials say, will cost about $144,000, compared with $260,000 under the former setup, which had the part-time Mr. Moan receiving $98,567 annually and $150.86 an hour for any work beyond 55 hours a month.
One project Mrs. Brinning remembers working on with Mr. Moan was the annexation of 259 acres of land along King Road from Sylvania Township into the city.
Another project she assisted with was the preservation of the Lathrop House, a stop on the Underground Railroad and safehaven for runaway slaves. Efforts to save the Lathrop House from being demolished by St. Joseph Church in 2001 divided the community. It was instead, moved. “You could see everyone’s side. It was handled very carefully,” she said.
Mrs. Brinning lives in Monroe with her husband, David Lisker, and their twins, Jack and Claire Lisker.