5 in race for council in Walbridge PDF Print E-mail
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 01 November 2013 10:46
WALBRIDGE - Four current council members on Tuesday's ballot say they still have goals to accomplish, while a challenger wants to give the taxpayer a better voice in the village.
Seeking re-election are incumbents Ron Liwo, Ken Gilsdorf, Sue Hart-Douglas and Jan Sawaya. Also in the running is challenger Larry Boday.
The last time Liwo was on the ballot was in 2011 when he was running for village mayor. He lost that contest, but was appointed to council in January, when Mayor Dan Wilczynski left, along with a councilman.
Today, Liwo said he is happy serving on council and has earned a permanent spot. He said he shares the same basic philosophy of government - cooperation and transparency - that Mayor Ed Kolanko has. Kolanko is running unopposed on Tuesday's ballot.
"I think I've done a good job serving the community and I'd like to continue doing that," said Liwo, who served on council from 2003-09 and was village treasurer from 2000-03. "I think I bring a level of expertise that no one else does."
If elected, Liwo wants to implement a water and sewer discount for senior citizens.
"Looking at Toledo and what they do, they give a 25-percent discount to seniors," said Liwo, who added that the village is almost "double-billed" for water and sewer service from Toledo and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District.
He wants to work with other communities that are served by the two entities to find a solution for lowering bills.
Gilsdorf was also appointed in January and has thrown himself into the buildings and lands committee, which he said is the busiest council group.
The committee just finished a review of all the Walbridge streets, walking all of them, then prioritizing improvements.
"I want to further the parks system and the streets. That's my two big things."
Since retiring as a CSX regional manager two years ago, Gilsdorf has thrown himself into community work. Some of his volunteer responsibilities include Walbridge Centennial Committee, Lake Township Friends of the Parks and Honor Flight. He also has a part-time job with Operation Lifesaver, which focuses on railroad, traffic and pedestrian safety.
Gilsdorf cites cooperation as key.
"What we've done and what we've got planned to do, it's because of the administration and council working together."
Parks have been the passion of Hart-Douglas and Sawaya.
They have led an effort to get the Aqua Terrace pool renovated.
As chairwoman of the parks, recreation and community events committee, Hart-Douglas has put Loop Park at the top of her to-do list. Some old equipment and courts have already been torn out and she hopes to get a grant to pay for new items.
"I've enjoyed it, but I also have goals for the parks and recreation committee. I'd like another four years to see some of the goals (through)," she said.
When Hart-Douglas first joined council, she was on the personnel and human resources committee, where she used her experience as a Registered Nurse. In Walbridge, she stared a safety program that reduced premiums through the Bureau of Workers Compensation.
Hart-Douglas said she is also running for a board seat on the Wood County Committee on Aging and is active in the village senior center. She's lived in the village for 37 years.
Sawaya, who is council president and is seeking a second term, has also been a big backer of the pool renovation.
"I feel passionate about it, for the families and children in the village. I just don't want to see it gone. Hopefully this (the work done this year) will extend the life of the pool for 10-15 years," she said.
Improvements for the parks could include putting in a soccer field and new playground equipment and basketball courts. Aqua Terrace could also get a sand volleyball court and a slide.
If reelected, Sawaya would like to revitalize Main Street, beautify it and bring more businesses in. She said it's difficult to get businesses to even look at the village, when busy Woodville Road is a mile and a half away.
Sawaya is retired from St. Charles Hospital and has lived in the village for 33 years.
Newcomer Boday, a lifetime resident of the village, believes that too much money is being spent without the people's approval.
"There's been large expenditures of taxpayer money. Something that large should go to the taxpayer for a vote," he said, citing the pool.
Boday said the message around council and the administration - that the pool is a huge asset to the village - is just not true.
"I don't believe a whole lot of people go back there."
And, he added, with all the money being dunked into the pool, there should be no admission charge to the residents.
"If we're going to keep it, I think since the citizens of Walbridge paid for it, they should go back there and swim for free."
Boday, who is an electronics technician, has tried to get on council a couple times, when there were resignations.
"I started going to council meetings a year or so ago, saw some things going on up there I just didn't think was right," he said. "Some seats were vacated, I put in letter of interest and both times they turned me down, so it must be a challenge."
If elected he would like to see the parks, especially Loop, spruced up.
"I'd like to make it a place where people would like to live and raise families. I think I've got a pretty good handle of what needs to be done."

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