The power of incumbency could be on full display in the city of Campbell, where the lifting of state-imposed fiscal emergency would justify Mayor William VanSuch taking a lot of credit.
But true to form, VanSuch used the occasion of Ohio Auditor David Yost’s recent visit to Campbell to insist that the economic recovery was the result of teamwork. Yost, surrounded by government and community leaders, announced that the nine-year ordeal was over.
But rather than use the occasion to bolster his re-election campaign, VanSuch was quick to acknowledge the efforts of city employees, department heads, members of council, community leaders and the state-mandated fiscal oversight commission in putting Campbell on a firm financial footing.
Even when he met with The Vindicator’s editorial board seeking our endorsement, the mayor shied away from any kind of “I” statement in talking about the recovery.
As the city’s chief executive, he would have been well within his rights to claim most of the credit. After all, had the financial situation worsened in the two years and nine months he has been at the helm, VanSuch would have shouldered the blame.
He may be unassuming to a fault, but that’s what makes him the ideal leader of a small town. Flamboyance does not cut it in Campbell, as residents found out with the ill-fated leadership of George Krinos, who resigned without completing his term in January 2011. VanSuch, who was president of city council at the time, became mayor.
He ran for a two-year term that year and faced 4th Ward Councilman Lewis Jackson Jr. in the general election. They were the top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan primary.
This year, Jackson is again challenging VanSuch and believes the closeness of the election in 2011 suggests that he has a citywide base of support.
To be sure, both men have extensive experience in city government, are deeply rooted in the community, have a clear understanding of the challenges confronting Campbell with its aging population and recognize the opportunities for economic development and job creation.
VanSuch and Jackson share the belief that road resurfacing is an important responsibility of government, but while the challenger talks about the grants he was instrumental in securing as city administrator under former mayors Krinos and Jack Dill, VanSuch is able to point to the streets that have been resurfaced since he has been in office.
That’s the power of incumbency. You get to take credit for the progress made during your tenure.
This year, in addition to resurfacing, the city undertook the second phase of Safe Routes to School — a sidewalks project. Streets were swept and sewers cleaned.
The city park continues to be upgraded, while the brownfields initiatives, including the Casey Drive Reconstruction Project, Sherman International Clean Ohio Project and Campbell Industrial Park Sewage Pump Stations are on the agenda.
VanSuch has served the city of Campbell well and has been a steadying influence on a city government that had become dysfunctional under the previous administration.
The Vindicator endorses VanSuch for re-election in the Nov. 5 general election.