|Perrysburg city & township candidates tackle issues|
|Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Monday, 21 October 2013 10:42|
PERRYSBURG - Water rates, traffic concerns and economic development were frequently addressed as candidates for mayor, city council and township trustee tried to garner support at a candidate forum last week.
Participants gave answers to basic questions Wednesday such as why they are seeking to earn or retain a position, important issues facing their post, and what makes them a qualified candidate. Not present were Richard Rettig, a council candidate; Perrysburg Township Trustee Gary Britten; and trustee candidate Lynn Hunter.
Mayoral candidate Laura Hummer said she was encouraged to run by her daughter, and that government should be comprised of everyday citizens, not career politicians.
"At her young age, (she) knows we need some new perspective, new ideas, new people getting involved," Hummer said.
She and fellow candidate Mike Olmstead both touted their experience operating small businesses, with Olmstead, an eight-year city councilor, also mentioning his history of, and commitment to, public service.
"I want to take that perspective of being in government the last eight years, as well as my private sector experience, and take it to the mayor's office," he said.
As an important issue the city faces, Hummer mentioned Perrysburg's need to develop a sustainable water source, noting that a contract with Toledo expires in 2027.
"That sounds like a long way off, but it's really not," she said.
Olmstead said the city already has made progress in economic development and with its services, but that he aims for "continuous improvement."
"We're poised to move to the next level as a city from both an economic development standpoint as well as from a service standpoint."
He said he wants to make sure the path to locating a business within the city is not "unnecessarily" complicated.SClBJoe Lawless, current city council president, opened with a well-received joke about the number of candidates running for city position this year, particularly their advertisements.
"I'd like to welcome everybody to the new political sign capital of the world," he said.
Lawless mentioned water rates as an area of focus for Perrysburg, as it currently has no leverage over the rates it receives from Toledo. He said government has become more "user friendly" during his 16 years on council, particularly with marked improvements in city parks.
Perrysburg Township Trustee Bob Mack said water and sewer rates are arguably more of an issue in the township as certain areas pay higher rates, and he hopes to equalize some of those charges.
Mack said township residents also want more options for recreation, and that the site of the former Lime City School "presents a nice opportunity for us."SClBCouncil member Sara Weisenburger filled a council seat earlier this year and said she's enjoyed learning how the city conducts its business. An auditor by trade, she's had experience working with governmental entities and has focused on reviewing the city's budget in detail.
"The goal of doing that is not to be nit-picky and cut everyone's budget and demand changes. My goal in that is to budget more conservatively, and budget with less buffers."
Weisenburger said she wants to continue growing the city's reserve fund, and after that, look at lowering taxes.
Several city council candidates mentioned Ohio 199 as an area where the city could do better with traffic concerns and economic development. Council candidate Barry Van Hoozen, a 12-year member of the Perrysburg school board, said several poorly functioning intersections in the area are creating "unbalanced growth" within the city.
"Beyond that, this is a well-run city, and I look forward to helping it move forward," he said.
Jim Matuszak, also a candidate for council, promoted his own experience in consulting with area businesses as a way to relate to those groups. If elected he said he doesn't plan to charge in and make unwanted changes without getting to know the city's department heads, but to focus on learning the ropes and being a visible, accessible representative to the public and business representatives.
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