Local voters two weeks ago were not in the mood to keep the status quo. They not only threw out nine incumbents, they did it with rare exuberance.
Let’s start with the sweep in Genoa: four incumbents out; two restaurant-bar owners in—Ray St. Marie of Rayz Café and Eric Hise of The Bharmacy. Voters also chose John Lewis and David N. Brown, whose common ground with the other two is putting the brakes on what they perceive to be an over-aggressive police force.
Do they have a case?
Voters thought so. The four winners each garnered between 383 to 431votes while each of the four incumbents only managed between 202 to 246 votes.
That’s a mandate.
But, for what?
A change in Police Chief’s Randy Hill’s community policing policy?
In October of 2008, Chief Hill instituted a program in which officers leave their patrol cars and walk into businesses and other establishments to interact with the citizens they protect and serve. Community policing has been credited with reducing crime in many large cities. It increases police visibility, builds trust and improves communication.
Some business owners welcomed the police presence, others not so much. According to police reports, the department made 4,206 visits to local businesses in the year from October, 2008 thru September, 2009 and 2,030 visits to establishments that had liquor permits. There are between 60 to 65 businesses in Genoa, seven or eight of them have liquor permits
Some business owners were also concerned about February’s Operation Flagship, a police sting of liquor-serving establishments. Five servers at seven businesses were cited for serving alcohol to a minor. According to comments made at the recent candidate’s forum, the charges arising from the sting were dismissed. That’s not exactly true. Three of the servers pled no contest and were found guilty in Ottawa County Municipal Court. Two cases were dismissed for lack of evidence.
Now, the critics will govern. Very interesting.
The only surprise in Jerusalem Township was in the margin of victory. Three of the four new candidates each captured at least twice as many votes as the two incumbents Joe Gray and Rodney Graffis. The two winners, David Bench, a farmer, was the top vote getter with 974, and Ron Sheahan, a manager, received 581. Gray garnered 181 votes and Graffis 125.
Neither Graffis nor Gray submitted any personal information or responded to questions The Press asked for its Voters’ Guide. Both may have thought they were boycotting us for what they perceived as unfair coverage, but in essence they boycotted their neighbors. The vote totals reflected that.
The two had been at odds with fellow trustee Joe Kiss, elected two years ago, and Julie Van Nest, fiscal officer. Township meetings were contentious and raucous, bills went unpaid and accusations of wrong-doing were rampant.
First order of business for the new trustees—what to do about police protection. Lucas County Commissioners want to charge the township $347,000 a year for police patrols. As expected the trustees, whose total operating budget this year was only $1.7 million, couldn’t absorb the new fee. So, they put a 3.5 mill levy on the ballot but residents shot it down by a two to one margin.
Veteran councilman Mike Seferian should have easily defeated incumbent mayor Marge Brown, based on the primary results. And, he did, garnering 61 percent of the vote. Now, this Independent will have to work with five endorsed Democrats, one Republican and another Independent.
Oregonians only wanted change in the mayor’s seat. They returned all endorsed Democrats, veteran Republican Jerry Peach and added Independent Sandy Bihn. Two other Independents, however, finished out of the running, one of them Incumbent Bill Myers.
The Democrats still have the majority and the hope is they will continue to move the city forward. Issues that need to be addressed are drainage, the proposed senior center and whether or not to go to a full-time fire department during day-time hours.
Oregon voters were also dissatisfied with the school board. They ousted endorsed Democrat Jeff Ziviski, school board president, and added Carol-Ann Molnar and Diana Gadus, two newcomers with teaching backgrounds.
Ziviski, a chief financial officer and human resource manager in the private sector, stated in his ads that he was focused on making “additional internal cost reductions before requesting additional levy funds.”
With two board members with teaching backgrounds in the driver’s seat does this mean another levy?