FAIRBORN – Candidates for Fairborn Council, Fairborn City School District Board of Education and for the Bath Township Trustee seats spoke Tuesday evening, Oct. 6, during Meet the Candidates Night, hosted by the Greene County Tea Party and paneled by the League of Women Voters. Each candidate was given five minutes to speak.
There are three seats open for Fairborn council and four individuals who hope to fill the positions. Candidates for Fairborn Council include Councilman Tim Steininger, Councilwoman Marilyn McCauley, Terry Burkert and Clinton Allen. Each spoke during the event, starting with Steininger.
Steininger highlighted the progress and achievements made by council, including economic development, as well as challenges council faces and feels that it would be beneficial to keep the team currently in place.
“I have things in mind that I’d like to do: I’d like to stay with the team we have, the council today is a team. We work very hard together. Do we agree all the time? Absolutely not. But we strive to make Fairborn the best place to be,” he said. “Secondly, we have progress yet to make, and I want to be a part of the team that makes that progress that moves the city forward … I want us to try very hard, and I will do my very best to grow Fairborn together.”
McCauley echoed some of Steininger’s points, including the importance of economic development, and the collaboration between the city and neighboring municipalities.
“I have a lot invested in this city, and it’s time to invest some more and make it as good of a city as we possibly can,” she said. “Some of the challenges we’ve faced … are economic development challenges, which will make or break our future in this town. Our blighted homes and buildings we face … as well as being able to collaborate between other municipalities, organizations, agencies, the school and so forth … I believe we have the right staff in place today, as a result of a very good and terrific economic developer.”
Burkert spoke next, emphasizing the importance of Fairborn working with incoming businesses and its neighbors, involving the youth as well as having the appropriate equipment for departments to complete jobs.
“I’d like to work on the enticement of bringing new businesses to Fairborn. We have a beautiful small town here. Also, I’d like to work even closer with our neighbors, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Wright State University,” he said. “I want to see the younger citizens get involved in the community … What do I bring to city council? I bring honesty and integrity. I want to try and make it easier for the people of Fairborn’s voices to be heard. Our town has a lot to offer.”
Allen spoke last, and feels that it’s important to develop a family-friendly environment, encourage volunteerism, assist the school district and foster small businesses.
“[I would love to bring to Fairborn] – to help and foster the small businesses that come on board,” he said. “The lifeblood of cities … is the small businesses. Those small businesses that people have passion about it … As a city we should do whatever we can to foster that, to help them grow and help them succeed. I’m not sure what that will spell out to be, incentives, but we have to do everything in our power to help that shop succeed … We’ve got to be able to encourage more volunteers in the city.”
Candidates for the Fairborn City School District board of education took the stage next. Three positions will sit empty, but four individuals are running. Candidates include Katherine (Katie) Mlod, Tess Little, Jerry Browning, Pat McCoart and Michael (Mike) Uecker.
Mlod spoke first, emphasizing her understanding of the district and her hopes with the future in relation to the building project.
“I have extensive knowledge of educational practices, I am invested in the district because I have a child who currently attends here and I’m well versed in the challenges our district currently faces … This is not the first time Fairborn has come up on the Ohio school Facilities [Construction] Commission list,” she said. “Fairborn had to pass on that funding previously because the district was having trouble staying afloat, let alone asking voters to share the cost of building new, or renovating, our current buildings. The district has been through extremely hard times. Now, fortunately, we’re fiscally solvent.”
Little took the floor next, highlighting her hopes for the future of the schools as well as her history with the district, which includes 10 years of experience on the board.
“I have served as the president of the board for four years, and I’m currently serving again as president this year,” she said. “I am running again for the school board because as a board member, we have unfinished work to do. We have a good team, and we’ve managed to do a lot in the past 10 years. The board is looking to the future of Fairborn, and the Fairborn schools has already began a process to take us into an exciting new future. After 10 years of fiscal struggle, our school has worked its way out of financial caution. We are … now fiscally solvent … We avoided the state takeover of the Fairborn City Schools in the 2013-2014 [school year]. The board did really hard work of restoring budgets and overcoming fiscal crisis without raising taxes.”
Browning feels that he understands the importance of deadlines and fiscal responsibility, and hopes for more open communication between the board, the city and the public.
“I’ve got 25-plus years of experience in running plants and engineering management. I’ve been responsible for plants that have $40-plus million budgets, so I understand fiscal responsibility, the challenge of hitting budgets,” he said. “Engineering teams I’ve worked with have been responsible for projects that are $100-plus million projects. I understand how you have to hit timing on projects, I understand how you have to hit budgets on projects. That fits right with fiscal responsibility for the district, and the buildings going forward.”
McCoart highlighted having a stronger relationship in place between the board and the city, as well as creating a more approachable atmosphere in relation to the staff, students, public, the city and the board.
“We need desperately to improve relationships and bring an open, transparent relationship to not only our staff at the schools, but the people of our town,” he said. “I like to keep people over involved. We hope to get with them (the city) and promote and discuss stuff like the new buildings that are going on. But again, we need to communicate with the city on a more regular basis, maybe than what we have already … I want an approachable board. I want to be able to stop and talk with people in any part of our town, and I want our staff, our students, to come up to me anytime they feel the need to.”
Uecker spoke of his experience on the board, as well as the successes he’s seen take place within the district.
“I ran for and was elected to the board four years ago, with the goal of riding our fiscal ship and improving education for our children. Then struggled to fix our fiscal challenges, I supported the painful choices that were needed to avoid a state takeover. It put us on a path of fiscal solvency without raising taxes on our people. Because of the hard choices we made, we were released from fiscal watch by the state and are now in a position to work other issues, ranging from replacing worn-out buses, which we’re doing at four per year, and are able to take a serious look at modernizing our facilities.”
Bath Township includes one open trustee position, but two individuals, James Heider and Steve Ross, who hope to take the seat.
Heider spoke first, emphasizing his history with the area.
“I am a hard worker and I take any task seriously. I will work hard and be a responsible trustee of this township. I will be a good steward of Bath township’s assets … I hope I have your trust, so you feel comfortable and confident when you cast your vote for me this November,” he said.
Ross spoke next, going over the relationship with neighboring cities and schools, as well as his history with the township. He spoke of the local cemetery, and how it is self-funded.
“Zero tax dollars are used to support the cemetery’s operations. My favorite part of the cemetery is the perpetual care fund – 10 percent of all sales at the cemetery go toward a perpetual care fund, which will cut the grass forever. It’s almost a $400,000 fund right now. After another 50 to 75 years of inventory sales, it will be seven figures and the taxpayer will not cut the grass.”
The event also included information presented regarding Issues 1, 2 and 3.