Saturday, October 28, 2017
By Jordyn Grzelewski
Eight candidates are running for two seats on the township board of trustees in the November general election.
Five of the candidates – incumbents Bob Lidle and Joanne Wollet, former trustee Mark Naples, retired Poland educator Ed Kempers, and retired township police secretary Cathy Stacy – participated in interviews with The Vindicator.
All but one, Henry Hassay, submitted candidate questionnaires to The Vindicator. Also in the race are Ricky Morrison, a business owner and township zoning appeals board member; and Robert Canter, who works at a certified public accounting firm and is the brother of township Fiscal Officer Paul Canter.
Asked in interviews whether the large field of candidates indicates some type of dissatisfaction with township government, most candidates said no – but a few did express some criticisms of their opponents, and Stacy and Naples said they think residents aren’t getting an adequate level of service from their local government.
Stacy was critical of township leaders for eliminating or removing three police department positions and claims that has resulted in reduced services to residents.
Wollet disagreed with Stacy’s characterization, and said the duties of two positions were absorbed into other positions, and that a full-time police secretary was not needed due to the relatively small number of reports the department receives.
Stacy also was critical of Lidle, who has been a trustee for 16 years, saying, “I believe people become stagnant in a position.”
Wollet, who is running for a second term, describes herself as a full-time trustee who has reinvigorated the office.
“When I ran four years ago, it was two incumbents and myself,” she said. “It was the same people for 12 and 16 years.”
She emphasized her leading role in getting a road-condition analysis done for the township, and pledged to focus on road paving if elected for a second term.
“A numerical value was assigned to each road, ranking our streets from best to worst. Now comes the important part, a plan,” she said in a candidate questionnaire. “I will not allow this study to sit on a shelf.”
One of her opponents, Mark Naples, whom she defeated in the last election, questioned why the township’s carryover balance has been reduced since the last time he was in office. Both Wollet and Lidle, however, defended the board’s spending.
Wollet noted that several sources of revenue (for example, the Ohio estate tax) have been depleted or eliminated. She said the township spent $68,000 on needed building repairs and also decided to update some road department vehicles.
“I fault the prior trustees for not having a plan,” she said.
“I see more long term. If I’m re-elected, this is the goal: To get some goals,” she said. “What’s the plan? What do we want to do to make our township better? I don’t want to come back here with $2.7 million and nothing got done.”
“We’ve spent more money on paving in the four years since he [Naples] left than we ever did,” he said. “I do not see that as a black eye in any way, shape or form.”
Lidle highlighted the completion of a sidewalk on Dobbins Road as one of his biggest accomplishments as trustee, calling it the “crown jewel of all my accomplishments.”
“If I’m re-elected, I plan on continuing that,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, it will unite the entire community.”
Lidle also said he believes the township needs to open itself up to development opportunities, especially in light of the declining enrollment the school district is experiencing.
He said one of his priorities is to “rezone various portions of the township to promote residential and light commercial development in an effort to assist with the enrollment and financial aspects facing our school system.”
Candidate Ed Kempers expressed a similar opinion, though he said new development should be carefully managed.
“I think Poland does probably need some growth, but managed growth,” he said, noting that he thinks most residents want Poland to remain a “bedroom community.”