by Josh Hypes
In about a month, voters will be headed out to the polls once again to determine who they want in a variety of elected positions. Here are the many stances and views of the several candidates running for elected office. This year’s election is a non-partisan election, meaning that there will be no parties are attached to this ballot.
School Board (Bellbrook City and Sugarcreek Township):
The school board is having elections for two spots this year. After the May levy failed to pass, incumbents Elizabeth Betz and David Carpenter face challengers Heidi Anderson, Karen Long, and Kevin Price. Voters will be selecting two candidates from the five listed. All candidates agree on ensuring a safe place for students.
Elizabeth Betz has served on the school board for the past 20 years with 15 years as President or Vice President of the board, a former teacher with 25 years experience, and involved with various nonprofit boards: 100 women of Greene County Making a Difference, Bellbrook Education Foundation, Farm to Table program with MVIFS organization. She has a Bachelor of Education from OSU. Betz views the maintenance of the quality of school programs should be the Board’s main focus while continuing to balance the budget. Most of the school’s funding comes from property taxes, so working with a lean budget that still manages to provide high-quality education should be the district’s main focus. Betz also hopes to increase the number of teachers to give more individualized attention and make class sizes more manageable.
David Carpenter completed his first year on the school board, but served as a member or chair of numerous ministry boards, including the Greater Dayton Walk to Emmaus. He works as an IT Director in the health care system. Carpenter has a BS in Computer Science from Allegheny College with minors in Mathematics and Chemistry and holds MBA course work at the University of Dayton. Carpenter believes that school funding and Special Education programs are at the forefront in the district’s issues. Through the failure of the levy, the school will not be able to operate at the same capacity as before as some sources of funds are earmarked for specific purposes that can not be used elsewhere. Additional staff would be nice in Carpenter’s eyes; however, he believes that there is already a good balance.
Karen Long has worked for 10 years as a Medical Social Worker at Kettering Health Network, with vast experience in mental health therapy. She has her BA from Wright State University and her MSW from the University of Cincinnati. Long’s main goals if elected are to meet the financial needs of the school district without exceeding community and family resources, focusing on finding solutions to the lowering of Bellbrook’s performance on the Ohio school report card grades mainly in special education program, and finding ways to mend the division in the community that has been focused on the faults of the school district. Karen differs slightly from her competitors in her position on state testing: find alternatives to ensure graduation outside of testing. Long would try to review the budget before making any drastic changes to spending. Expanding the number of teachers would, in Karen’s opinion, give students more individualized attention from teachers and offer emotional support to students.
Kevin Price is a retired Air Force Lt. Col and current Air Force Research Lab Subject matter expert for aircraft collision avoidance technology. He has a BA in Education. Price believes that the creation of a safe environment should be a priority for the school board, followed by achieving more funding from the state, and finally speaking to parents of special education students to learn what can be done. Price states that there needs to be a balance between state testing and independence in teachers’ approach to educating children. The issue schools currently face is one of income, not overspending. Price makes a pledge that he would find some way to get more money from the state, once again stating that the Special Education program might be underfunded but could require more investigation. Price makes several specific points on improving book reading in comparison to digital media to return to the basics. In addition, he sees many ways that the school needs to foster a love of country and provide more opportunities to participate in democratic principles.
Heidi Anderson is a full-time mother with 19 years of teaching experience. She received her BS in English Education from Wright State University. Anderson believes that the school board is ineffectively managing money and has failed in leading the district in a positive direction and that changes need to be made. Anderson embraces that she staunchly voted “no” on the May levy and incorporates much of the very same rhetoric into her campaign, stating that taxpayers are burdened by the taxes that go to the school. Anderson has certain beliefs that the board is not transparent with the electorate and believes that they are committing nepotism in its contract negotiations with prospective staff. She also calls for an overhaul of the district’s special needs program.
Bellbrook City Mayor (Bellbrook City ONLY):
The Bellbrook Mayoral elections take place every two years. This election, incumbent Mike Schweller faces off against challenger Douglas Johnson. Bellbrook Mayoral elections are non-partisan meaning that the candidates do not run under parties. The position is largely ceremonial, serving as the chair during council meetings and is a part-time job and an equal legislator with no special powers. The issues on the ballot this year is how city councilors and the mayor plan to deal with the repair of Little Sugarcreek Road and the downtown revitalization project.
Little Sugarcreek Road located near McGee Park and Main Street has been experiencing landslides due to structural failure. An engineering study revealed that a 2,600-foot corridor of the road was experiencing eroding factors that were causing the soil between bedrock and the road to slowly erode. Estimates currently calculate the first round of repairs being approximately one million dollars, with the complete repair costing over 7.2 million dollars.
Mike Schweller is the Current Mayor of Bellbrook with over 20 years of experience on the Bellbrook City Council. In addition, he works as a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) as a tax consultant by Brady, Ware & Schoenfeld, Inc. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Bowling Green University and his MBA from the University of Dayton. Schweller states the biggest challenge facing the Bellbrook community is the maintenance of a balanced budget without an income tax and several revenue sources at the state level and the downtown revitalization project. The Little Sugarcreek Road repairs in his eyes require further scrutiny into options related to State grants to cover some of the costs before heading to the voters to ask for a bond.
Darryl Johnson is the challenger who is a retired teacher and factory plant worker and has his B.S. in Business Management from Wright State University and his M.Ed. from the University of Dayton. He believes the current issues faced by the community are due to lack of transparency and a focus on passing ordinances that are off-key with the needs of the neighborhoods. By addressing these concerns by scrutinizing the city budget and “coming early and staying late” at council meetings, he believes he can act as a representative of the people in the council. Darryl Johnson believes that Mayor Schweller has been advocating for an income tax for years and that he would serve as an alternative on the budget.
Bellbrook City Council (Bellbrook City ONLY):
The Bellbrook City Council are elections are staggered every three years with three councilors and the mayor facing election in the off-year nearest to the next general election, and the other three councilors facing election after the general election. (A general election is a presidential election.) The City Council this year are facing the same issues as the mayoral candidates face in the repairs of Little Sugarcreek Road and the downtown restoration efforts. The three incumbents, Darryl McGill, Elaine Middlestetter, Donna Seger-Lawson face challenges from Ernie Havens and Tim Taylor.
Darryl McGill is the Deputy Mayor and has just completed his first term in office; however, he has been involved with city council government for almost a decade with various committees. He is a retired industrial relation/ human resources director with 35 years of experience. He has an education from Ohio University with a BFA/BSEd as well as a graduate degree MBA from Lake Erie College. McGill believes that sustaining city services and managing the resources of the city’s projects under the comprehensive plan as the biggest challenges that face our community. With regard to the Little Sugarcreek Road repairs, he believes that the search for public grants should be the first thing the council looks at when starting the project.
Elaine Middlestetter has served on the city council for 8 years with experience on the city planning board and the museum board. She has a variety of volunteer positions that she occupies as well as being a retired small business owner. She received her Associate of Business Degree from Miami Jacobs College. Middlestetter believes that the finances of the city and the Little Sugarcreek Road Erosion are the most pressing issues that have to be dealt with by the council. She believes that the revitalization efforts are equally important that underline the community values as a whole. In addition, Middlestetter has a focus on the environmental health of the water quality of the streams and rivers of the city and the Bellbrook City Museum.
Donna Seger-Lawson has served on the city council for 8 years with experience as the chair of the City Service Committee. Seger-Lawson currently works at DP&L. Mrs. Seger-Lawson has yet to make an established campaign website where her policies could be accessed or referenced.
Ernie Havens is a former Navy submarine veteran with 20 years of experience in engineering and business development. He is the owner/publisher of Bellbrook Sugarcreek Neighbors magazine and a former industry board member for Ohio Third Frontier, with several other leadership positions. He has a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics from Wright State. Havens believes that the downtown restoration efforts should be at the forefront of the council’s work with a heavy focus on the value of entrepreneurship and private development. In addressing the Little Sugarcreek Road repairs, Havens believes that the priorities of the current spending plan of the city should be reassessed in order to to provide the funds to execute the 1 million dollars short fix of the road, while temporary measures such as lowering the speed limit on the roadway and limiting truck traffic on the road should be implemented. As far as the additional fixes, Havens takes a tempered approach to the situation by seeking to address the root cause before implementing the added six million dollar solution. Havens believes he has a vision for downtown Bellbrook and a way to restore it by establishing a master plan to “Renew Bellbrook’s Charm.”
Tim Taylor is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and a retired Dayton firefighter with a background of experience in many city council boards in Montgomery County. He has an education from Sinclair Community College and the University of Hawaii with numerous professional certifications. Taylor believes that the downtown restoration efforts should be to make it more of a place people want to come to visit instead of just driving through. In regards to the Little Sugarcreek Road repairs, Taylor believes that further investigation should be prompted in regards to specific areas of the study as well as the Bellbrook citizenry having a referendum on how to deal with the issue. As the community grows, Taylor hopes that there will not be any vacant buildings downtown and space is efficiently used by small businesses.
Proposed Greene County Park District Levy Renewal (Bellbrook City and Sugarcreek Township)
The levy is a renewal meaning that it will keep the same property tax rates as the prior levy did. This levy was made for the purpose of operations, maintenance, capital improvements, land acquisition, staffing, programming & events for 0.9 Mill for each one dollar of property evaluation for a term of 5 years.
Proposed Sugarcreek Police Levy Renewal (Sugarcreek Township)
The levy is a renewal meaning that it will keep the same property tax rates as the prior levy did. This levy was made for the purpose of providing and maintaining vehicles, communications and equipment buildings and sites for the operation of the police department and payment of salaries of payment and part-time police, communications or administrative personnel for 2.0 Mill for each one dollar of property evaluation for a term of 5 years.
Sugarcreek Township Trustee (Sugarcreek Township ONLY):
No individual is running against the incumbent Carolyn Destafani.
Sugarcreek Township Fiscal Officer (Sugarcreek Township ONLY):
No individual is running against the incumbent Theodore Hodson.
Xenia Municipal Court Judge (Bellbrook City and Sugarcreek Township):
No individual is running against the incumbent Ronald Lewis.
Member of Governing Board of Educational Service Center (Bellbrook City and Sugarcreek Township)
Only two individuals are running in the race for two spots: Erik Eppers and Patricia Phipps.
Find your precinct to vote: