During Genoa’s “Meet the Candidates Night” Tuesday, council candidates focused on subjects other than the police department’s controversial underage alcohol sting.
Questions for the candidates were pre-determined by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and each candidate did not address every issue.
Regarding village spending:
Incumbent Steven D. Bialorucki: “In my opinion, the things I’ve seen on the projects we’ve done on the sidewalks and streets are positive. The things we are spending on are the right ones, quite honestly. Yes, we are spending money, but you have to realize $86,000 was grants. Local small government needs to maintain what we have and we are doing it in a mindful way of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Challenger David N. Brown: “I’d think it would be irresponsible if I didn’t say we’re spending too much. Let’s try to get better communication, let everyone know how we can better communicate and let everybody give their input,” Brown said, suggesting a newsletter.
Incumbent Dave Fryman: “Last year, we probably would have been hurt by the recession but we had somebody turn in a very large tax bill, and I don’t know who it was, but that helped a lot. This year, I am expecting revenues to be lower because of the economy and we will have to reduce. It would only be prudent at this point to look at reducing.”
Challenger Eric L. Hise: “I’ve seen a lot of change in the past 32 years. The village hasn’t changed — in fact, it’s only increased in population by 10 percent but our government has increased ten-fold. I remember the day when we had a town clerk who worked on a part-time basis, plus our department of police has five squad cars. I keep scratching my head and saying, ‘Wait a second. We have a great community.’
“We are a community of 2,050 people — we are a mile by three-quarters of a mile — that hasn’t really changed in 50 years. Does this town need five squad cars? Does this town need two administrators when their job was done by one 40 years ago? We have the luxury of having a full-time administrative police chief who gets paid $5,000 less than the county sheriff. What I would do is take a good hard look at this town and I would start cutting. I’ll use what I’ve learned working with the banks and cut the costs.” Hise added that he believes utility costs in Genoa need to be brought under control, also.
Incumbent Betsy Slotnick: “We do not set aside separate tax monies, so some money is always left unspoken for,” she said, mentioning examples of funds that have been appropriated for emergency expenditures.
“We have received $86,000 in grants — these are your federal and state tax dollars that are coming back to help you. The park is one of those projects and if we can get those grants we’ll do the park. If we can’t, we’ll do the best we can.” Slotnick said, including two positions that have been eliminated, saving $70,000.
Genoa Schools is constructing a new K-5 school on its main campus at Genoa-Clay Center Road and closing Brunner Elementary, which council says has been offered to the Village of Genoa.
Regarding the upcoming closure of Brunner and issues regarding economic development, Veterans Memorial Park, utility costs, the relationship between Genoa and Clay Township trustees, and other issues:
Incumbent Jennifer L. Kreager: “I think it’s an exciting time to live in the village. I’m not saying it’s perfect. No one is perfect, but I think we have the proper people on council to keep things in place.”
(Brunner) “The closing of Brunner Elementary is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, I’m kind of happy the levy passed. On the other hand it’s sad to see the closing of a school that has meant so much to our community over the years. I would hope the village could lease parts of that building or sell that property. It’s obviously something that’s going to happen. It’s something that we’re going to have to take care of and we’re going to have to use that as an opportunity.”
(Clay Twp.) “My passions include the park and the creation of the master plan. I also continue to strive to make sure the east end of the county remembers that we have a west end.
“I have had the opportunity to work with Clay Township on the master plan and I have to tell you that they were awesome. It was smooth sailing the whole time.”
(Economic development) “Since coming to Genoa, we eat here, do our grocery shopping here, we buy our gas here and cars here. We buy our carpet, our furniture here for both of our homes. I have also asked the rest of my family to do the same...I am proud of our businesses and the people that run them. I am very proud to call Genoa home and to have the opportunity to enhance it.”
Lewis: (Economic development) “I recently was asked by some members of the Genoa business community that they needed some support. I thought about it, and decided the way things are going right now it’s my turn. I’d like to help out. There are some current issues that need to be addressed and I thought I can help.”
Bialorucki: (Economic development) “I see the marketability of this small town — Veterans Memorial Park, and the quarry.
“I wanted the village to be better because I’m here. You guys in the back, business owners, your guys do great and we need to show off what you do.” He also promotes embracing alternative energy and the stabilization of electric power in the village.
(Clay Twp.) “At this point, I am not aware of any animosity between the two groups. I believe there is an opportunity with the park to create a master plan. The park is a jewel, and it just takes some talking and working together.”
(Utilities) “One of the things we did was we met the change and it is not what we did but what our competitor did. Toledo Edison reduced its rates. I totally agree that Ma and Pop businesses are what we do — it’s what we do well. I would like to fix the vacant spots we have in Genoa. We can’t fix the economy and we also have to make the best decisions based on what’s best for Genoa.
Brown: (Brunner) We have a dual responsibility there. I know when the schools were campaigning for the levy they did offer the building to us. I like tearing the building down and turning it into a park, but there are all kinds of possibilities. What I would be in favor of is forming a citizens’ panel and determining what is best for that building. I do think it’s a unique opportunity and I think we need to get in there and see what kind of shape it is in.
(Economic development) Brown suggested an economic development brochure, and said, “I think all of us, not just council — we need to sell Genoa.”
Slotnick: (Economic development) “This community has changed in many ways and I’m serving on council to help with those changes. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging, but I would like to be able to serve again. Some of those changes include the designation of downtown district as a historical district. Because of that we were able to receive a $400,000 grant which 21 businesses took part in making 70 or more exterior improvements and many improvements on the interior. The village has participated itself with the improvement and addition of community parking spaces.
“We’ve done the Main Street reconstruction; now Washington Street. We’ve done a lot with infrastructure and we are well-placed for new businesses to come here. We’ve made upgrades to the park, sidewalk improvements; we’ve shared expenses with the chamber to support advertising of the village. Genoa is a good community. I would like to be a part of continuing that process.
“We have worked with the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation to attract businesses here, and we’ve made improvements so we don’t have to worry anymore about blackouts due to squirrels dancing on wires. We have done quite a bit to attract businesses. We do have businesses that (sell) outside of Genoa, and we would like to see more of those businesses,” Slotnick said, listing Packer Creek Pottery and a Genoa company that does business in China.
Lewis: (Clay Twp.) “I do know in the past there have been some issues with the trustees and the council. As far as now, I’m not sure if there are any issues. Personally, I know all the members who are running to be trustees, and I would like to work with them to resolve all of the issues.”
Hise: (After being criticized by a resident for missing meetings during previous council terms) “Every time they were excused. Keep in mind that we’re still a small town, and many things don’t have to be done that minute. If something comes up, I’ll be there.”