Buckeye Lake, Union Township candidates speak out
BUCKEYE LAKE- Races for Buckeye Mayor, Village Council and Union Township Trustee are hotly contested this year and Buckeye Lake’s Meet the Candidates night reflected it.
Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb moderated Tuesday night’s event at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. Buckeye Lake Chamber President Lisa Stewart introduced him and retired Air Force Master Sergeant Ray Harris led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Running for three village council seats are council member Charlene Hayden, former council member Peggy Wells, and hopefuls Clay Carroll and A. Kaye Hartman. Richard Baker and Barry Herron are vying to replace retiring Mayor Frank Foster. Battling for Union Township Trustee are incumbents Jack Justice and Jesse Ours, and hopefuls Charles Prince, Rick Black, and Richard Moore, who did not attend the event.
Each candidate gave opening remarks.
Black: He’s a lifelong resident and a farmer who served on the Lakewood School Board for several years. As Union Township Trustee he’ll search for ways to stretch a dollar and improve communication.
Justice: He’s been a trustee for 18 years. “I truly enjoy the job,” he said, “I say what I think.” He’s had the pleasure of working with the village and he supports the Buckeye Lake Fire Department.
Ours: Twenty-four years ago he saw that the township had issues and wanted to be involved. He became involved in zoning, attaining grants, and implementing 24-hour emergency service. “We have the best fire protection in the county.”
Prince: The people of Buckeye Lake give tens of thousands of dollars in taxes to the township per year and they need to be spent on services for the citizens, not benefits for the trustees. “The trustees have done little to help Buckeye Lake,” he said.
Baker: He sees a lot of potential in the Village of Buckeye Lake, particularly with the new public water system currently being installed. As mayor, he will prioritize removing uninhabitable houses from the village.
Herron: We must get this village cleaned up, he said. Many residents live below the poverty level, and removing the derelict houses will attract development and better paying jobs for the residents.
Carroll: Being on council is being part of a team. “I think I can help with that,” he said. He serves on several village committees and is an experienced manager.
Hartman: She feels the village is on the cutting edge of making progress and she wants to see it return to the way it was when it was the “playground of Ohio.”
Hayden: She’s built meaningful relationships with local government officials and helped to bring public water to the village during her tenure. The village now has a comprehensive plan. She was twice elected council president.
Wells: “I think we can do better,” she said. Teamwork is important but it’s equally important for council members to bring individual ideas to the table and eliminate rubberstamping.
Question: Tell us about your education and why it should help convince people to vote for you.
Justice: He’s a Lakewood High School graduate. He didn’t attend college but spent 25 years as a personnel manager. “My dad thought milking cows was more important (than college),” he said. He trained with the Jaycees.
Ours: He’s a high school graduate who became a mechanic and a contractor. He earned a real estate license and runs his own business. “I have continuing education daily,” he said.
Prince: He has a college degree in political science and economics. He’s attended more than 1,000 local government meetings as editor of a newspaper and experienced the “school of hard knocks” as a long-time small business owner.
Black: He’s a Lakewood High School graduate and a graduate of OSU College of Agriculture with courses in business.
Herron: He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1983 before working for Proctor and Gamble. Later, he started his own business, which has grown steadily.
Baker: Graduated from the Graduate School of Banking before becoming a vice president of consumer loans. He served on the Newark City Council where he was chair of the finance committee.
Hartman: Graduated from the Hondros real estate college and started her own business at 22 years old. She served on the Newark City Council for several terms.
Hayden: She has a bachelor and master’s degree in education as well as class hours beyond a master’s. She’s been active in many professional organizations, often in a leadership capacity.
Wells: She recently earned a bachelor’s degree in history from OSU where she was tapped for a Mortar Board. She’s worked in an accounting office and as a legal secretary, and learned to do research and how to apply it.
Carroll: He completed an electrical program at C-TEC technical school (called LCJVS at the time) and completed plenty of continuing education. He’s a National Electric Code instructor.
Bubb read questions specifically for the mayoral candidates.
Question: How do you feel about the renewal of the Buckeye Lake Police Department levy and law enforcement?
Baker: “I’m absolutely for the police levy,” he said. He hopes the public water will attract development to build the tax base and improve the police department with better resources.
Herron: “We must pass the levy,” he said. He believes juvenile males are responsible for 80 percent of the crime issues in the village. They need to be given some structure so police don’t need to baby-sit them.
Question: How do you feel about zoning code enforcement and the village’s appearance?
Herron: He walked around the village campaigning and, “It shocks me,” he said. The village has many vacant houses that need to be cleaned up or torn down. Other communities are addressing the problem and “We can do it, too.”
Baker: He agrees with demolishing derelict houses. In fact, it’s his number one goal. Newark did it using several methods. He said the county has $1 million reserved for demolishing vacant houses and Buckeye Lake should qualify for much of it.
Question: What about fixing the streets after the public water system is installed?
Baker: The village has a good contractor installing the system, which may be operational this spring. He believes the village received the money necessary to repair the streets.
Herron: He said the water system will be pressure tested in March, and then the repaving will begin. He believes grant money was made available for repairs.
Question: How available will you be as mayor?
Herron: His employees can reach him on his cell phone “24/7,” and so may the residents. “It’s that simple,” he said.
Baker: There’s email and his cell phone, and his job schedule is flexible. “I’ll have a lot of time to do this,” he said.
Bubb directed a question to council candidates.
Question: How do you feel about the village’s appearance and the juvenile crime issue?
Hayden: Now that the public water is progressing, council can focus on the village’s appearance and cleaning up village houses in need. The village needs more activities for young people. “All of us need to get more involved now,” she said.
Wells: The village staff is still busy with the water and will be for a while. She suggested the village community development committee should address the issue and added that she was largely responsible for the village’s bike and skate park. “I’ve done my part,” she said.
Carroll: He said the village used to have many activities for young people and village needs to go further than the skate park. The village needs youth programs to help them learn to apply for jobs and other practical skills.
Hartman: Slow down with the talk of tearing down houses. “People are living in them,” she said, and the village should work on relocating those people. The village should get its youth involved in rehabilitating some of the village homes and volunteering in general.
Then, it was the trustee candidates’ turn.
Question: Regarding emergency services, how do you envision the relationship with the Buckeye Lake, Granville, and Hebron fire departments?
Ours: He said the township pays for 60 percent of the emergency services budget within the township. He believes the township will continue to have the finest emergency services in the county.
Prince: The township contracts with Buckeye Lake, Granville, and Hebron. The costs are nearly exceeding revenue. “Stop bickering with Hebron,” he said, adding that it’s time to consider a fire district. “We don’t need three fire chiefs in Union Township.”
Black: The township has excellent emergency service now and he wants to see a cooperative spirit between all departments.
Justice: Hebron and Granville provide excellent service and Buckeye Lake doesn’t have any problems a little money can’t fix. A district has plusses but the past has shown it may raise everyone’s rates but Hebron’s. The trustees and the Hebron department will likely continue to have some disagreement.
Question: Do you support the South Licking Watershed Conservancy District’s dry dam proposal? What about local flooding?
Prince: “The short answer is ‘Yes,’” he said. The township should support the general idea of flood protection. The flooding will be significantly worse if ODOT raises I-70 to keep it above flood level since it could act as a dam, backing up water on the south side.
Black: He farms property that floods and understands it’s a complex problem. He agreed I-70 may eventually act as dam, worsening flooding, if nothing else is done.
Justice: “Show us the money,” he said. Solving flooding is a $10 million problem. He agrees something should be done, but why should local residents foot the bill for water coming from Harrison Township and Pataskala? Newark would benefit as well.
Ours: He agreed with Justice. “What’s the value of killing someone to help someone else?” The areas sending the water should be held responsible.
Bubb asked council and mayoral candidates if they supported the Buckeye Lake street light and police levies, the Lakewood school levy, the senior services levy and a C-TEC levy. All candidates said they would support all levies, except for Wells, who said she had a neutral position on the police levy. “Let the people decide,” she said.
Question: Does Buckeye Lake have a negative image? Is there negativity in the community?
Herron: When he tells some people where he lives, sometimes they say, “You live in that mud hole?” “That really offends me,” he said.
Baker: “We have a lot of positives here,” he said. He wants to promote a positive Buckeye Lake. There was unity on the Newark City Council when he served and Buckeye lake can have unity as well.
Wells: It’s not positive versus negative, it’s about being honest with the constituency. She believes the village “sweeps issues under the rug” and should confront them directly.
Carroll: “I’m a positive spirit,” he said. A lack of communication causes negativity and the village needs to get the community more involved and aware of issues. “There are many committees.”
Hartman: “Who owns the problem?” she asked. She is excited about running for office and believes problems are solved with a positive attitude. “Positive is contagious.”
Hayden: “Negativity is nonproductive. It hurts everyone,” she said. There’s a lot of negativity in the local press but no answers. She hopes the community can change that.
Black: “Things in Union Township are pretty good,” he said. Too many things go wrong if people think negatively.
Justice: “It’s easy to take pot shots at public officials,” he said. There are many positives in the township. The money carrying over from year to year is the same as it was several years ago. The township is in decent financial straits.
Ours: He’s a very positive person. He urged voters to maintain the continuity in the township government.
Prince: There’s a tendency to kill the messenger. “I’ve been the messenger,” he said. As editor of a local newspaper, he’s written editorials that may sound negative, but they do offer ideas and solutions. It’s important not to be satisfied with the status quo.
The candidates offered some final words for the event and the village council candidates were asked if they would pursue appointment to an open council seat if he or she loses.
Wells: She clarified that any houses to be demolished are empty and uninhabitable. They can’t be renovated. She said she worked with a volunteer group to reduce a sewer rate increase and worked closely with local juveniles. She doesn’t believe they are at the root of the village’s law enforcement issues. She would not consider the open council seat.
Hayden: She said she has a proven track record of accomplishing goals through positive means. “This leadership works,” she said. She’ll keeping working hard to move the village forward. “Get the job done with Hayden,”
Hartman: “I hope whoever comes in last will consider the open seat,” she said. She’s experienced in government and business, is honest, and has integrity and a positive attitude. She wants to make Buckeye Lake the “playground” place it used to be.
Carroll: He’s on many village committees and would have plenty to do if he lost this race, but he probably would apply for the open seat. He urged community members to become more involved and thought proposed neighborhood crime watches would help the police department.
Herron: People have an opportunity to “flip the dynamics of the village” with the public water system. “Let’s make it better,” he said.
Baker: He said he grew up with politics and has many years experience in varied public service positions. He has many contacts with representatives of other communities who could help Buckeye Lake.
Prince: It’s time for new ideas and energy in Union Township; the incumbents have served for a very long time. It’s time to look more positively at flood control, talk about emergency service regionalization and make the best use of tax revenue.
Ours: He has a vested interest in Buckeye Lake as a property owner and has built several local structures. “We have to watch how we grow and be careful,” he said.
Justice: He was born in Union Township. “I love this township,” he said. He’d be a lost soul if he wasn’t involved with it somehow. The mayors of the township’s communities never asked for anything the township couldn’t deliver.
Black: It’s time for innovation in the township-new technology and new ideas. Creating a township web site is important. “I’m happy to take phone calls and emails, and I will return calls,” he said.