Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a week-long series of stories detailing issues and candidates that will appear on the Union County ballot on Nov. 7.
Voters in Marysville and villages around Union County will be selecting council members for the next four years. Some of the areas have contested races while othes do not have enough candidates to fill all the open positions
Marysville voters will have a few new choices at the polls this year for city council, with two newcomers throwing their hats in the ring as well as three incumbents. Mark Reams, Henk Berbee and J.R. Rausch are all seeking re-election, while Jermaine Ferguson and Donald Boerger are looking to get seats on council.
In Plain City, voters will have many names to choose from as they select council members. Council members Nick Kennedy, Lesliee Perkins and Colleen Davis have chosen not to seek reelection. James W. Moore is the only current council member on the ballot. Joining Moore on the ballot are Benjamen James Budd, Jody Lynn Carney, Blake Todd Haines, Sherry L. Heineman, Darren A. Lee, Rochelle L. Pellegrene, Shannon L. Pine, Richard Steven Rice, Roberta Benner Scott and Barry Joe Thomas.
The Journal-Tribune reached out to all candidates in these two races. Each of the candidates who responded to the request for information have been included in the story.
Ferguson and his wife Anita have two children, Judah and Julianna. He was in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years, and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for three of them.
In an email to the Journal-Tribune, he emphasized his faith in God, and said he’s “committed to serving my community by being a genuine listener, an advocate for the family unit and by working with the members of city council, the city manager, the executive staff and community leaders.”
Ferguson wrote that he was a “foster youth,” and now is working on giving back to his community. He’s the founder of the Ferguson Foundation, an organization dedicated to working with foster children to “overcome adversity.” He’s an advocate for child welfare reform for ACTION Ohio and the National Foster Youth Institute.
He’s also a CASA, or court-appointed special advocate.
He works on the management team at the United Postal Service, and is also the owner of a cleaning service.
Ferguson wrote that local elections have more of an impact on our day-to-day lives than any other level of government.
“Our city council must represent who we are as a people,” he wrote. “We are honest, hardworking, compassionate, loving and filled with pride for our community and country. Together we will work out issues that are important to us.”
Marysville Planning Commission member Boerger emphasized his passion for community development in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
“I have volunteered in this community for years,” he wrote. “I went to school for city planning with the intention of coming back to Marysville to help our community grow and develop.”
He wrote that Marysville’s historical buildings, churches, scenery and farmland make it unique. He said residents “need to stand firm so that this identity is not lost, but only enhanced.”
Boerger singled out the area’s opioid epidemic, which he said is hitting youth particularly hard.
“We need to build opportunities and resources for our youngest residents to keep them off the street and out of trouble,” he wrote.
Property value was another major issued Boerger wrote about. He wrote that the city needs to plan in a way that will improve Marysville’s neighborhoods. This includes improving property maintenance codes.
“This philosophy will help us develop a promising future,” he wrote.
Boerger wrote that he has roots in Marysville. He went to St. John’s Lutheran School, as well as Marysville High School. He wrote that he went to his first council meeting when he was 12, which “triggered (his) passion for community development.”
He said he is a leader with “conviction and integrity.” He said he can’t promise he can change public policy, but can promise that he will “advocate and take time to speak to residents, and encourage them to be involved on boards and commissions.”
He said he’s running to show residents that one person can make a difference.
“It is time to give the residents of Marysville an opportunity to get to know me, and how I can be an asset for the people,” he wrote.
Reams and his wife, Leslie, have two sons, Chet and Quentin. He’s an industrial engineer with degrees from Kansas State University and Texas Tech University.
Reams wrote his goal is to keep Marysville friendly for families and business. He said he’s done that during his time on council with “proper planning for growth and conservative fiscal policy.”
“I am proud of the progress we have made in public safety with the addition of a much-needed fire station and increased police staffing,” he wrote.
He wrote that council has expanded the city’s “economic base” while also reducing its debt. He also noted that the city’s proposed Innovation Park will bring jobs – and money – into the city, and will help the city’s jobs match its residential growth.
He’s also had extensive involvement in the city’s parks system, serving on the Marysville Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission. He cited the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as an accomplishment during his time in government, but said the plan “cannot gather dust.”
“We must follow through to complete these projects,” he wrote.
He wrote that he intends to work going forward to put that plan into action.
Street maintenance was another area Reams highlighted. He said he wants to prioritize the upcoming improvements to the U.S. 33 and 31 interchange, which he stressed will necessitate cooperation with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Reams and his wife both volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. They also volunteer at the Union County Humane Society, taking in foster animals with special needs.
Rausch has served on council for six years, the last as council president and mayor.
He and his wife, Ann, have two daughters, Ashley and Emily.
Rausch cited council’s reduction of Marysville’s debt in the past six years during his time on council. He also noted that the city has constructed three new buildings (City Hall, Decker Fire Station and a new police building), the opening of Partners Park, and the beginnings of the Innovation Park on Industrial Parkway.
He wrote that the creation of the Council of Governments (COG) with Union County and Marysville Schools, and a regional COG with other municipalities were done during his time in office.
Rausch emphasized the variety of businesses that have come to Marysville during his time in office. He wrote that businesses like Moriroku and smaller eateries like Half Pint or Hinkley’s have all come to Marysville in recent years.
He received a degree from Ohio University in business administration, and has worked in both the banking and insurance industries.
Rausch wrote that he’s held “leadership roles” in the Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Union County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Junior Achievement, Joint Recreational District, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Union County Family YMCA. He was also an assistant varsity basketball coach at Marysville High School for eight years.
He said he’s proud of the accomplishments council has made during his six years, but there’s “still more work to be done.”
“With the growth our city is experiencing, both commercial and residential, I think this is a pivotal time for the future of Marysville,” he wrote. “The decisions that are made in the next four years will have a profound impact on our city, both visually and economically, for generations to come.”
Berbee has been on council since 2009, the same year he became a U.S. citizen.
The founder of his local greenhouse, he wrote that he’s been a resident of Marysville since 1982.
During his time on council, he’s served as chair of the city’s finance committee for eight years.
He wrote that the areas he feels most deserve attention are public safety, debt management, infrastructure and parks.
He wants to maintain the city’s police and fire departments.
“Not only do they need to be property staffed, but also need the resources to keep citizens safe,” he wrote.
He noted that the city has lowered its debt recently as well as improved its bond rating. He wrote that work on the city’s finances should continue.
He wrote that the city is responsible for nearly 100 miles of roadways, and that the city needs to work to maintain them.
“We need to maintain an aggressive resurfacing program to keep up with the maintenance of the Marysville streets as the community continues to grow,” he wrote.
Moore is running for a third term on Plain City Village Council.
A 1958 graduate of Rushsylvania High School, Moore and his wife, Janet, moved to Plain City in 1961. Moore said he has lived in the village since.
“I care a great deal about Plain City and it’s future,” Moore wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune. “I have the town’s best interest in mind and the people who live in it.”
Moore owns and operates Jim’s Diner in the village. In addition to being a self-employed businessman for more than 50 years, Moore has been involved during his eight years on council. He said he was on the village Water Committee and the Pleasant Valley Fire Board for two years and has served on the Park Committee for three years.
Carney said that as a member of council she wants to, “ensure Plain City remains fiscally sound and work with fellow council members to provide leadership into our future.”
She said she believes her background in agriculture can, “help bridge our farming heritage and industry with the new residents moving into town.”
“Plain City offers its residents a unique charm and I want to ensure that we keep our heritage thriving as the town continues to grow,” Carney wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune.
She stresses that is an idea she has already been working on. Carney said she has lived in Plain City with her husband, Adam, and children for nearly nine years. In that time she has worked to be involved.
While working as agriculture educator for Fairbanks High School, Carney co-founded the Plain City Farmers’ Market along with Chris Long of the Plain City Public Library. Carney said she “saw a need in the community” for residents to have access to local produce and goods, along with a way for her students to market projects.
She currently chairs the tree lighting ceremony for Uptown Plain City Organization’s annual Christmas Under the Clock. She also chairs the Madison County Farm Bureaus Farm-to-City program that brings local farmers into the elementary schools.
Originally from Athens County, Carney grew up on a grain farm and raised beef cattle for 4-H. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture and education from Wilmington College of Ohio and a Masters degree from Wright State University in Teacher Leadership. Carney’s career has always involved agriculture, working as a crop consultant, an agriculture educator for Fairbanks Local Schools, and an organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau. She is currently a Sales Rep for Mayer Seed Solutions and stays home with her two children.
“I truly believe in our town and the people who live here,” Carney wrote. “I want to continue to see Plain City be a place where you know your neighbor and the business owners personally.”
Heineman has lived in Plain City all her life.
“I feel I would be a good candidate because living and working in the village, I know a lot of the residents and have interacted with many of them,” Heineman wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune. “I also feel, from talking to people, that my vision for the village aligns with a lot of theirs’.”
Heineman graduated from Jonathan Alder High School in 1985. She married Tom Heineman, a firefighter with Pleasant Valley Fire Department for 31 years, in 1989. The couple has two children, Adam and Taylor.
“Not only have I always lived in the village, I have also always worked in the village,” Heineman wrote.
After high school, Heineman went to work for the Lovejoy family, a job she held for “for many years” she said. The candidate works as a crossing guard and a playground supervisor at the elementary school.
A civil engineer, with more than 15 years of experience working for large municipalities, Lee said he has something to offer Plain City.
“My knowledge can assist the Village in planning for capital improvements and future development,” Lee wrote in an email to the Journal-Tribune. “I have experience in planning, forecasting and budgeting for maintenance and long term needs.”
As a village resident for more than 23 years, Lee said he has, “noted numerous areas within the village that are in need of maintenance and improvement.”
He wrote that working together one of the challenges facing the village. He said his time on the village Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals has, “provided me the opportunity to bring different personalities together to achieve a common goal for the village.”
Pine said she believes she has, “many assets that I can bring to the table making important decisions about balancing future growth and development with keeping our small-town charm and sense of community.”
In an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune, Pine wrote that with potentially four new council members, the village needs experienced people to, “help bring Plain City into the next decade.”
“This experience that I can bring to the Council table will create a well-rounded group with each member having certain specialties,” Pine, a Capital University graduate, wrote.
She said with more than 18 years in the city of Columbus’s building and zoning department she is required to write legislation and staff reports, make presentations, negotiate development proposals and routinely interact with many constituents and community groups.
Married with two daughters, Pine says that since moving to Plain City in 2009, she has found ways to be involved in the community. She has been with the Uptown Plain City Organization since 2010 and serves as the group’s current president. She said as president, she is responsible for the administration of the non-profit organization and to hold people accountable. She said she plays a role in, “planning and volunteering at the events that so many of our residents enjoy.”
The candidate is also a member of the village Planning and Zoning Commission and the steering committee for the Plain City Comprehensive Plan.
She said that if elected she will be “in tune” with the plan she says is expected to be adopted in 2018.
Pine listed the “major issues in Plain City” as conditions of the uptown and infrastructure, development pressures and lack of job opportunities or housing options in the village.
Also on city and village ballots:
Marysville City Law Director: Tim Aslaner.
Village of Magnetic Springs Village Council: None filed.
Village of Milford Center Village Council: Ron Payne, Derek Wilson, Donald Jones
Village of Richwood Village Council: Von Beal, George Showalter, Jack Moore, Patrick Morse.
Village of Unionville Center Village Council: Mary Morris, Theresa Weese, Ann Lenhard.
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