2 compete for BG’s 4th Ward
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:18
Bowling Green's Fourth Ward voters have the only contested ward race in this year's municipal election.
While there are four candidates seeking two at-large seats, incumbents in the city's First, Second and Third wards face no opposition.
Both candidates in the Fourth Ward are new to voters, although one has filled the seat for several months.
Democrat Robert Piasecki was appointed July 1 to fill the open seat left by the resignation of Republican Greg Robinette, due to an obligation to the Army National Guard.
Among the other five Fourth Ward residents who sought the office that night was Piasecki's challenger, Republican Theresa Charters-Gavarone.
Both candidates oppose the proposed charter amendment listed on the ballot as the City of Bowling Green Community Bill of Rights.
Piasecki pointed to council's unanimous passage of an ordinance that makes hydraulic fracturing a criminal offense in the city as one reason and added "the amendment is not a good way to make law. It is template text that is a little dangerous, I think."
Charters-Gavarone also pointed to the ordinance and noted that she did not know anyone who favored fracking in the city. An attorney she said "The proposed charter amendment is very broad and vague. It has the potential for unintended consequences. If the goal was to prevent fracking, This has the potential to do a lot more." She said the amendment could have a negative effect on business and could raise utility rates. "I am opposed to the charter amendment."
A resident of BG for 28 years and of the Fourth Ward since 1996, she said "I care about my neighborhood and the town. I have a lot invested in Bowling Green, my home, a downtown business, my work as an attorney and three kids in the BG schools. That commitment to the community will be an asset on council." Charters-Gavarone noted involvement in the schools through her children, work with Downtown BG, being a board member of Horizon Youth Theatre, and serving as a guardian ad litem as examples.
Piasecki said his interest in the council seat is based on his involvement in the community, a concern for the future and the needs of children.
Although all three of his children have participated in the Bowling Green Soccer Club, Piasecki said his vote against purchase of land around the community center to develop additional fields was because the "cost was way more than it should have been" and the location was not convenient. "But more so than that, it was the lack of public input, the way it was handled, that was my biggest issue." His was the lone dissenting vote.
He did join the rest of council in approving the purchase of the Ridge Elementary property. "The First Ward will be a little better off for that purchase. I like the way the city is making sure to set aside some property on the west side of the school that will allow people to continue to have access to their garages."
Piasecki also said:
• "We need to continue to address economic development. We especially need to develop local businesses, especially the mom and pop businesses. It's a way to keep money local." He added that empty storefronts are a concern.
• The Fourth Ward is fortunate to have many good neighborhoods and very few issues with rundown properties. "People have indicated they are pretty happy with the way things are. I have heard concerns about crime in a couple of areas, but I have been told those have been addressed."
• "I see myself as the common man. I have an insight into business and industry. I have been a volunteer coach and keep myself aware of people in the community." He earlier worked in the banking industry.
Charters-Gavarone also said:
• She agrees with At-Large Council Member Robert McOmber that the city might take a closer look at the possible uses for Ridge Elementary. "I wasn't privy to the executive session discussions, so I don't have all of the details."
• Part of the charm of Bowling Green is its historic downtown buildings. "I would like to preserve that look."
• Having knocked on 2,200 door she said people are generally happy with the city but have mentioned storm water issues and pointed out places where entire streets are lacking street lights.
• "I want to encourage an environment where a business here can grow and where we can encourage new businesses to come into the city."