Editor’s note: This is the third in a week-long series of stories detailing issues and candidates that will appear on the Union County ballot on Nov. 7.
Each township in Union County has candidates running for trustee seats, though few see the development pressures of Jerome and Paris townships.
Both townships have three candidates running for two positions — incumbents Dave Cook and Steve Westlake along with Crista Miller in Paris Township and incumbents Joe Craft and C.J. Lovejoy along with Andy Diamond in Jerome Township.
Westlake is running for a seventh term as Paris Township Trustee.
He said “a lot as changed in the township” during his 24 years of service.
“Growth has impacted our township, both in the city of Marysville and also in the more rural areas of Paris Township,” Westlake wrote in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
He said his focus has always been on “controlled growth through strict zoning codes.”
Westlake said through funding of the sports complex on County Home Road, the township has made a, “sizeable impact” on recreation for youth. He added that during his time as a trustee, the township has added a Public Safety Officer to patrol the township.
He said that township officials have many responsibilities they “have been trusted in with taxpayer dollars.” He said the list includes roads, bridges, snow removal and fire protection.
“Paris Township is fiscally sound and in very good hands,” Westlake said.
He said he “looks forward” to continuing his service to Paris Township.
Cook has served as a township trustee for more than seven years and said he wants to continue serving.
“As trustee, we have quite a few accomplishments over my two terms,” Cook wrote in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
He said during his time in office, the board of trustees has maintained and repaved roads, upgraded the berms and ditches, worked with City of Marysville and Union County officials to “maintain and grow” the Union County Joint Recreation Park, adopted new zoning codes and regulations, hired additional township staff, obtained a grant for the repaving of Amrine Wood Road, “beautifully reworked” the Amrine Cemetery, “plus many other items too numerous to mention.”
“I have lived my entire life in the Marysville/Union County community,” Cook wrote. “I am involved in the local community.”
He said he serves on the board for UCO Industries and is treasurer for the Union County Shrine Club.
Cook serves as a teacher and chairman of the board at Claibourne Methodist Church, where he and his family attend.
He has worked at Cook Real Estate, the family business, for 34 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration/real estate from the Ohio State University and is currently a District Vice President serving on the Executive Committee for the Ohio Realtors Association.
While Miller is the challenger, she is not new to township government. Miller served as a Paris Township Trustee from 2012-2015.
She said that if elected again, she will “represent township residents with conviction, integrity and passion.
During her time in office she served as Chairman of the County Township Officials Association and graduated from of the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy.
“I made every effort to represent township residents honestly, conscientiously and to the best of my ability,” Miller wrote in an email to the Journal-Tribune.
The candidate said she attended all meetings and “above all, I listened to the concerns of the citizens of the township.”
“I hope that I have earned the trust of the township residents,” Miller wrote. “Through my commitment to the community, I hope the Paris Township residents have seen that I cared deeply for the township and enjoyed being trustee.”
Miller said that being a good steward of township funds is her top priority.
“I respect that the funds come from residents,” Miller wrote. “Dollars need to be spent wisely for the overall good of the township.”
She said her goal for a second term would be working toward a balance of managing township infrastructure within the financial resources available.
“As trustee, it is imperative to work toward a management plan for improving the quality and safety of our township roads,” Miller wrote, noting that she supported the addition of safety berms on Amrine Wood Road.
Miller said she has “concrete examples” of how she positively impacted the township.
She said she initiated a cemetery restoration project to have the cemetery in “tip-top shape” for the Amrine Settlement 200th anniversary celebration.
“The restoration project provided much needed TLC and resulted in the gravestones, once broken and/or leaning, to be standing tall and gleaming as a respectful tribute to the early settlers and veterans buried there,” Miller wrote.
“As trustee, I exhibited a cooperative spirit and proved my leadership skills,” Miller wrote. “I have a willingness to develop my skills at educational conferences and apply knowledge to real township situations, as needed.”
Miller currently works as a senior customer care advocate for the Wendy’s Company’s Dublin operations. She was awarded a 2017 Wendy’s Community Ambassador Grant for volunteer efforts at the Ohio History Connection’s Ohio Village.
A life-long resident of Union County, Miller earned a Bachelor of Science in Education, Summa cum Laude from Bowling Green State University.
She has served as president of the Marysville High School Alumni Association since 1997, is on the executive committee of Union County Milestone Events Committee and is a life member of Union County Historical Society. In the past she has served as a board member of Union County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a board-sponsor for the Windsor and Community Senior Board and a chairman of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Commission.
Miller said she cares deeply and “would enjoy many years of service to the township.”
“Residents will be able to contact me directly,” Miller wrote. “My record shows I was responsive and accountable to resident concerns. When notified, I took initiative to listen, record details, and cooperate with my fellow trustees to resolve the issue.”
Craft was elected township trustee in 2013.
“I’ve held many leadership roles in my lifetime, but being a trustee for Jerome Township has so far been the most challenging,” Craft wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune. “Jerome Township is facing incredible growth pressures. Dublin continues to try to annex our most valuable commercial areas. I want to keep these areas in Jerome to maintain a healthy tax base mix so our residential property taxes will remain reasonable.”
Craft said he has tried to foster open and forward relationships with the cities of Dublin and Marysville as well as with Union County officials, working with surrounding communities on a joint economic plan.
He said the township is a safer place. During his time in office the township has hired more law enforcement officers, added a new ambulance and hired Doug Stewart as Jerome Township Fire Department chief.
He cited other notable accomplishments from his term in office, including, passing revised zoning resolutions that “create a more stable business environment, managing continued growth and economic development with no new taxes, successfully preventing Dublin’s annexation of commercial acres and creating new jobs at the Dublin Green development.
Craft wrote that if re-elected he would update the township comprehensive plan, work to get a signed Joint Economic Development Agreement with Marysville and “continue to use the knowledge and relationships I’ve acquired to protect the township from annexation and to grow Jerome Township in reasonable ways.”
Craft and his wife, Robin, both pharmacists and Ohio State University graduates, have lived in Jerome Township for more than 17 years.
“Robin and I own Plain City Druggist in Plain City, which we opened from scratch in 1999,” Craft wrote. “We recently celebrated 18 years in business this October.”
Lovejoy is also seeking a second term as Jerome Township Trustee.
“I have learned a lot and enjoyed my time being a member of the Board of Trustees for Jerome Township and hope to continue working for you if re-elected in November,” Lovejoy wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune.
Lovejoy was born in Plain City and has lived in Jerome Township for 30 years. He said he is a “proud graduate from Jonathan Alder High School.”
Lovejoy spent 15 years working retail for his family’s business in Plain City.
“I managed for 10 years and controlled day to day operations and finances,” Lovejoy wrote.
Recently he “changed gears” and began a career in law enforcement.
“I pride myself in being honest, hard working, and a loyal member of my community,” Lovejoy wrote.
He and his wife have three children and “decided that Jerome Township was the best place to start and raise our family.”
“Jerome Township needs leaders to represent its residents and businesses that have invested their lives into the area.” Lovejoy wrote. “As a current Jerome Township Trustee, we strive to find a balance for our residents, businesses and our community in which we love.”
He said the township is facing “severe pressure from the City of Dublin to annex commercial property.” He said he would like to keep all commercial property in Jerome Township, noting the commercial taxes will help keep residential taxes low.
Lovejoy said that in the past four years he has had several accomplishments for the township.
He said he has helped manage residential and commercial growth with no new taxes and kept a “a stable business environment by passing new zoning resolutions.”
He said Dublin Green and other retail and industrial developments have created jobs in the township.
Lovejoy said he and the board prevented Dublin from annexing commercial property in Jerome Township and have worked with community officials in Union County.
During his time in office, Lovejoy was responsible for extending Jerome and New California cemeteries with new burial plots for township residents only.
Additionally, a new ambulance was purchased for the Jerome Township Fire Department and fire chief Doug Stewart was hired to lead the organization.
“If I am re-elected as your township trustee I would like to use the relationships I have gained to protect our township from being annexed and update our Comprehensive Plan,” Lovejoy wrote.
Diamond grew up in Amlin, near Dublin, and has lived in Jerome Township for about nine years.
“I want to represent the people who live here and raise their families here,” Diamond wrote. “I want Jerome Township to be a place where people have a say in the future of their community.”
He has built his candidacy on better management for growth in the township.
“I don’t oppose development, but the development needs to be done responsibly,” Diamond wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune.
He said officials have approved 2,500 homes to be built in the township.
“Over the next 10 years, as these homes get built, we’re going see even more crowding of our schools and traffic on our roads,” Diamond wrote. “We need to control and manage the growth better to give our schools and roads a chance to recover and catch up. Growth needs to be thoughtful and managed.”
The candidate said developers “need to be held accountable for paying for the infrastructure improvements necessary to support the growth.”
“If roads need widened, traffic lights installed, turn lanes added, then the developers should be the ones to foot the bill,” Diamond wrote. “Developers should not be given big tax breaks in order to entice them. This area has plenty of interest, there’s no need to give TIFs on residential developments.”
Diamond said he specifically opposes a proposed Fed-Ex hub on Industrial Parkway based on the traffic and noise it would bring to the area. He said plans call for a facility 20 times the size allowed by current zoning. He said the facility would put hundreds of trucks either going toward Dublin and navigating the ‘Costco Roundabouts’ or on to U.S. Route 42.
“These are already two of our most congested areas,” Diamond wrote. “Why would we want to make these traffic problems much, much worse?”
He said he would like to promote public awareness and encourage public participation in township planning. He said information regarding township development plans is “very difficult to find.”
“Township residents don’t know what development is planned,” Diamond wrote. “They don’t have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the development of their township.”
He said he would like to make meeting agendas and meeting minutes available on the township website.
“Neighboring townships do this. Jerome Township can too,” Diamond wrote. “The people deserve to have a say in how the township is governed.”
Other township races include:
Allen Township Trustee: Jack Rausch, Ronald Chapman.
Allen Township Fiscal Officer: Tom Brower, Lori Lacella, Gary Wallace.
Claibourne Township Trustee: Joseph Wiley, Rodney Goddard.
Darby Township Trustee: Roger Davenport, Dennis Blumenshein.
Darby Township Fiscal Officer: Connie Priday.
Dover Township Trustee: Barry Moffett, Dan Westlake.
Jackson Township Trustee: Charles Ehret, Donald Wasserbeck.
Leesburg Township Trustee: Jeff Robinson, William Lowe.
Liberty Township Trustee: Karen Johnson, Marshall McCoy.
Millcreek Township Trustee: Keith Conroy, Bill Jordan.
Taylor Township Trustee: Dennis Schertzer, Beth Marshall, Lucas Braun.
Union Township Trustee: Dwight Robert Thompson, Richard “Dick” Brake, Josh Combs.
Washington Township Trustee: Randy Sullivan, Ron Jones.
York Township Trustee: Bruce Davis, Judy Christian.
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