All seven candidates for ward seats on Bowling Green City Council said Sunday night they support a
proposed 0.08-percent income tax increase on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The candidates also fielded questions on other issues. Comments came during the League of Women Voters of
Bowling Green Candidate Forum at the First United Methodist Church.
Among the comments:
Council Member Jacob Redfern said he cast a positive (tax) vote during early voting "but certainly
understands the opposition. The mayor has outlined a three-tier program of what will happen. If people
don’t want the services, then they can vote ‘no.”’ Democrat Redfern said it is likely there will be
cuts in later years if the economy does not rebound.
Republican challenger Mark Hollenbaugh said he believes in the "sanctity of the voting booth"
but does plan to vote for the tax. "City government does not have a lot a waste and moves have been
made to eliminate waste. I am optimistic the economy will turn around."
Hollenbaugh said he would have recused himself on the unlawful discrimination ordinances had he been
appointed the night of that vote. Redfern was appointed that night to fill the vacancy created by the
resignation of Gordy Heminger and voted for the legislation. Hollenbaugh said opposes legislation that
creates lists "and history shows us that lists often lead to bad things." A history teacher at
North Baltimore, Hollenbaugh said he supports equality and does favor the housing ordinance because
"no one should be denied housing unless they can’t pay the rent." Redfern said had heard the
debate and knew the issue. He said elected officials have long set the tone on controversial issues such
as civil rights and women’s suffrage.
Redfern said the future of the city and university are intertwined. He has attended meetings, talked with
residents and knows relations are not always the best. He pledged to work with all groups. Hollenbaugh
said since the question keeps coming up the issue probably hasn’t been dealt with. "College
students and residents have similar concerns" and cooperation is important. He was disappointed the
mayor was the only city official he was aware of at a late September event in which students undertook
Incumbent Democrat John Zanfardino said the tax proposal would put the city tax at 2 percent. "Of
the 113 Ohio towns with income tax, 75 percent are at the 2 percent rate. Given the city’s exceptional
services, I can support the increase. Independent challenger Rob Emmelhainz said 2 percent is reasonable
and the increase is temporary. He praised budget cutting efforts and said fees would be possible for
some services if the increase fails.
Emmelhainz said he would have joined council in approving the unlawful discrimination ordinances but it
was probably best served by placing it on the ballot. Zanfardino said he was "extremely proud"
of sponsoring the ordinances "and would again tomorrow."
Zanfardino said he has been working to solve town-gown issues, noting he was one of the founders of the
East Side Neighborhood Association. "A lot of groundwork has been laid in three years. The more we
meet our neighbors, the more we become neighbors."
Emmelhainz emphasized "we are one community." He urged community and student groups to work
together. "I know it’s not new but I would like to see student organizations have a weekly
Democrat Mike Aspacher and Republican Roger Mazzarella are seeking the Third Ward seat left open by the
decision of Democrat Megan Newlove not to seek a new term.
Mazzarella said "there is no good time for a tax increase and this is probably the worst."
However, he added that Bowling Green "is an excellent town with good services. I personally will
vote for the tax increase." Aspacher said he also supports the tax but wants the budget scrutinized
to make sure "we are getting the best bang for the buck." He added department heads need to
look at operations to make sure things done in better times are needed and efficient.
Aspacher said he agreed with approval of the unlawful discrimination ordinances but did sign the petition
to place the issues on the ballot. "I’m a staunch believer in the democratic process and on
polarizing issues it is important that citizens have the right to decide at the ballot box."
Mazzarella said his teaching and coaching career exposed him to the complete spectrum of life.
"Discrimination is not to be tolerated or allowed. As it appeared I would have voted for it."
Mazzarella said there appears to be an abundance of city-university cooperation, with the mayor attending
freshman orientation for six weeks, students working regularly at Simpson and Wintergarden parks,
helping youngsters learn to read and acting as tutors. "The thing that bothers me is that BGSU is
becoming more insular, trying to keep every dime on campus." Aspacher said he is aware of
substantial cooperation from his time on the board of education but admitted additional work can be
done. "This is mutually beneficial and I value their presence."
Incumbent Republican Michael Frost is unopposed.
Frost said he was "encouraged" by the support for the income tax among council candidates and
added his support. He noted that council and the administration have been working on the budget issues
for 10 months.
Frost was the lone vote against the unlawful discrimination ordinance, saying he thought the city was
opening itself up to lawsuits and that he did not like the idea of making lists.
He said the city and university need to work together for change. "It’s a constant struggle to keep
the lines of communication open."