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Candidate profiles: West Alexandria Village Council
Register Herald - 11/1/2017
Name: Chris Armold
Office Seeking: Village Council, West Alexandria
Occupation: Self Employed Writer/Photographer
Past Political Posts Held: None
Education: Dual Masters Degree in Public Administration & Human Resources Development - Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice
Community Involvement: Tax-Paying, 20-year U.S. Military veteran, pro-Preble County advocate, avid supporter of Preble County Emergency Services, Volunteer at the Grissom Air Museum
Why Am I The Most Qualified For this Position: I’ve never held political office but I have had incredible experiences over my life that have prepared me to fill one of these seats. As a twenty-year veteran of the US Air Force, I worked primarily in the law enforcement and anti-terrorism fields. I know what it’s like to work long hours and what its like to make hard decisions. As a Law Enforcement flight sergeant and supervisor I was responsible for law enforcement leadership at huge installations like Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Kirtland is 54,000 acres of facilities and weapons systems development, supported by literally thousands of people. I know what it feels like to be responsible for some of the most vital, priority resources our nation owns. I’ve experienced leadership and operational management at the highest levels while assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. After years of study I completed a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and then pressed on for another two years to complete a dual-Masters program in Human Resource Development and Public Administration. With my experience and educational background, in my final years of service I served as an Air Force Wing Quality Advisor, helping units and organizations develop strategic plans and create the metrics required to achieve the goals and objectives to support the strat plans. After retiring from the US military I purchased an insurance agency and over ten years more than doubled value and growth of the business. I hired and fired people. I paid the rent, the utilities, the insurance, the phone, all the things that go into running a little business. I paid the massive taxes. I worked super hard to be successful. I know what it’s like to have to manage a budget. I know how important an organizational chart is. I understand how vital investing in infrastructure is for the future. I understand the importance of having a clearly defined vision and for taking action to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual, a family, a business or even a village. Without some kind of organization and a plan, it’s hard to get anywhere. I would like to offer my experience in planning, organization and leadership skills to my village. I see incredible potential in this village if we can somehow get on the same page.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking and how would you address it:
As it currently stands, the state of the village sewage treatment facility is a serious issue that’s been kicked down the road for two decades. I’m no expert in this area but in speaking with folks who are, this is a big problem. This issue has been festering for 20 years with several million dollars of quick fixes and patches spent to keep an old, tired, used up facility up and running. This out-dated plant impacts negatively on home and property values. Who wants to live in a town where their is a potential the old-outdated sewer plant is going to back up and overflow? In addition, because of this out-dated and insufficient facility, West Alexandria will struggle to grow because our sewer plant apparently can’t handle any additional capacity. That means no new business, no new housing areas, no expansions of existing businesses without risking overloading the system.
If Elected what would be your chief priorities?
First, West Alexandria, needs a strategic plan and a return to basic organizational roles. We need a clearly articulated vision for our village. For example, I would like to see property values in the village increase 20 percent over the next four years. That’s a challenging, yet I believe, achievable vision we can attain if we take action on issues like the water treatment plant. Village leadership needs to focus on serving the community and looking at the big, long-term picture. I am running to help my neighbors and to make West Alexandria a safe, clean, attractive and utterly fantastic place to live and bring up a family.
Secondly, attack the water treatment plant issue immediately. We need to find experts and people experienced in this area to help us make smart decisions on how to best address and solve the issue once and for all. It’s going to require spending money and investing in the future of our community. This isn’t an optional issue, it must be addressed. Period.
Third, West Alexandria needs to improve and enforce village ordinances in the area of property up-keep, maintenance, cleanliness and overall appeal. As a community we need to work together to put our best foot forward. While the vast majority of West Alexandria businesses and properties look great, there are folks who have let their properties go or simply don’t care. I don’t encourage or desire draconian measures to address this but every community has standards and West Alexandria should not be an exception. West Alexandria doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel or agonize trying to re-write outdated ordinances. There are hundreds of well-operated, highly respected communities who have penned fantastic ordinances that have been legally examined and even tested in court. Why guess at things when there are so many other villages and small towns that have already done the things we need to do? I say we look for best practices and we benchmark from the smartest, best run communities in Ohio.
Fourth, the village must develop an organizational chart that clearly shows the lines of leadership and who works for whom. In addition, roles and responsibilities and duty hours for every village employee at every level must also be developed and defined. Village equipment usage must be monitored and each employee should be held to the highest level of accountability for using public funds and time wisely. Employees and personnel being paid by the village must know exactly who they work for, what their required duties are, the required duty hours and the chain of command and clear lines of responsibility from bottom to top.
Fifth: Build on our strengths and promote our village: West Alexandria has a heck of a lot going for it — great location, low cost of living, excellent water table, fantastic schools, amazing fire, police and EMS services, quiet, peaceful, safe and an overall a serene place! We have amazing people, amazing volunteers, amazing events, some cool attractions in our area, nice places to eat and some beautiful family homes at great prices. We need to expound on our strengths and address the challenges that face our village.
Name: Holly (Gardner) Robbins
Office Seeking: West Alexandria Village Council
Occupation: Administration, Providence Health Partners, Dayton
Past Political Posts Held: Councilperson, Village of West Alexandria
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Wright State University’s College of Liberal Arts
Community Involvement: West Alexandria Village Council, Preble County 4-H, Hospice of Dayton Fund Raising Committees, Hospice of Dayton volunteer, Alpha Kappa Sorority, Salem Lutheran Church, former member Women’s Auxiliary, American Legion-James E. Ryan Post #322
Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position? I am one of several qualified candidates. However, I am the only candidate who attends yearly education training with both the State Auditor of Ohio and the Municipal League of Ohio. I know how government accounting operates and understand the differences between enterprise and special funds in relation to the general operating budget.
I understand council members are responsible for making high level decisions concerning our village; not to micromanage our village and its employees. It is extremely important all departments to work together in a congenial manner. In that same respect, council members should work together for the betterment of our community. I consciously make decisions I perceive is best for our residents, rather than choosing what is popular. I am professional in demeanor, honest and trustworthy in character which leads to my strong integrity.
I am a competent leader who listens and seeks the truth! With my research information coming from proven sources allowing me to make educated decisions both in and outside the council chamber. In the private sector I am part of an administrative team who makes daily business decisions for the improvement of health care needs. This team plays an important part in my being a better administrator and leader.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking and how would you address it?
There are several projects needing addressed in our village, the most crucial being the past due need to expand and upgrade our existing sewage treatment plant. Our department works diligently to maintain the plant. But if the plant were to fail, it could result in EPA fines and the EPA mandating what happens next. We DO NOT want this to happen.
This will be a very expensive project. To begin correcting, we must identify and secure sufficient land to expand. All applicable grants need to be obtained to defray overall out-of-pocket costs. We need to work with lenders to obtain affordable financing. The money in the enterprise fund will help, but it is not enough for the entire project.
Secondly, there is the matter of constructing a new fire and EMS station. On March 15, 2016, village residents passed a 3 mill general operating levy – 53 percent for, 47 percent against. The ballot language was confusing, speaking more to monies for operational purposes, but these levy monies are earmarked for the construction. Since levy passage, council has faced a few hurdles. First, council was unable to obtain financing for approximately one (1) year because the land title transfer(s) were not completed. In March 2017, the fire association transferred title to the village. Since then, council has reviewed several different amortization schedules ranging in amounts of $600,000 to $950,000. While the ultimate goal is to house our fire and EMS departments under one roof, we need to be cautious with this project so that it does not set up the village for financial strain. Council members must explore all options to ensure community safety.
Lastly, all of our departments work on limited funding. Our Chief of Police is working to decrease department costs and increase revenues. Council recently approved instituting a Mayor’s Court to hear traffic cases, ordinance violations and other misdemeanors. Increasing revenues will help to offset costs and work to make officer wages market competitive. With the drug epidemic as it is, our community depends on police coverage and it is our goal to offer an experienced and well-staffed police department for the safety of everyone.
If elected, what would be your chief priorities?
If elected, my chief priorities will include:
Expansion and upgrades to the sewage treatment plant.
Work to hire a strong administrative staff to serve village residents five days a week.
Continue working on viable options for Fire/EMS construction.
Decrease department expenses, explore group vendor contracts and purchasing.
Create a council endorsed Facebook page so accurate information is disseminated to our residents and community.
Return to a quarterly village newsletter that will be available to all resident addresses.
Name: Doug Crouse
Office seeking: West Alexandria Village Council
Past Political Posts: West Alexandria Village Council ’70s , ’80s & ’90s
Education: West Alexandria Graduate 1961
Community Involvement: Businessman, Village Council, Fire Service
Why are you the most qualified for this position? Many years of experience with budgets and common sense planning.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it? Replacing critical village staff — clerk,village administrator and attorney, all of whom are retiring.
If elected, what would be your chief priorities? Work closely with council and village to replace our aging waste water sewer plant as well as working with Lanier and Twin Townships to create a joint Fire and EMS District.
Name: Jeff Hickey
My name is Jeff Hickey and I live at 63 West South Street in West Alexandria with my wife JoEllen.
We are lifelong residents of the community and we graduated from Twin Valley South in 1976. We have raised our four children in this community and are proud to call West Alexandria our home. I am running for a seat on the West Alexandria Village Council and feel I have the experience and knowledge to serve you well in this position.
I have not held political office before, but have held different Management positions throughout my career. I am currently employed with International Paper as the Maintenance Planner for my plant. In this position I am responsible for planning all maintenance activities and controlling over a two-million-dollar annual budget. I have also managed numerous capital improvement projects in my career and believe this will be an important asset serving as a member of your Town Council.
I have been a member of the West Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department for the last 25 years and have always enjoyed serving our community. I am currently on Leave of Absence from the Fire Department due to the internal strife within the department. As a citizen of the community and a member of the Fire Department I believe this is one of the most critical issues that we need to resolve. The Village has also taken the first step of discussing with Twin and Lanier Townships about forming a Fire District. A Fire District would allow both Townships to share in the financial decision making and financial responsibility associated with all aspects of the Emergency Squad and the Fire Department. We are on the threshold of building a new EMS/Fire Station. I believe the responsibility and decision making should be shared with all residents of Lanier and Twin Townships, not just the Village. We will get one opportunity to do this right and I believe this change needs to be made now.
We have other critical issues facing the residents of West Alexandria. Including taking the steps to address the aging sewer system the village is currently operating. We are also losing our village administrator and village clerk at the end of this year due to retirement. They take over 60 years of experience with them and finding their replacements is crucial to the village.
So if elected I feel we can tackle these issues and come to a resolution that is beneficial to all residents of our community. While also maintaining financial responsibility to the tax payers of our community.
If anyone has any questions of me, please feel free to contact me at 513-465-7298.
Name: Zachary J. Shafer
Office Seeking: West Alexandria Village Council
Occupation: Firefighter/EMT/Fire Safety Inspector
Past Political Post Held: None
Education: Twin Valley South High School; General Education, Sinclair Community College; Fire & EMS Education, Miami Valley CTC & Warren County Career Center
Community Involvement: 10 years of service on the Village Fire & EMS Departments; Creation of the First Fire Inspection Program for the West Alexandria Community; Head of Fire Prevention Education for TVS Elementary 2014,2015 and 2016; Past Chair of the West Alexandria Firemen’s Association Bingo Committee; Past Secretary of the West Alexandria Firemen’s Association; 2010 Recipient of the Sally Batz Community Service Award, Brookville, Ohio.
Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position? I feel that I’m the most qualified for this position for a few reasons. First, I feel that you must have a strong work ethic. Having the knowledge to do the job is one thing but, you must also have the time to devote to the taxpayers and ensure that the community gets its bang for the buck. Next, I’m not a career politician. The incumbents have served for the last 8-12 years. I feel that my fresh eyes, energy and self motivation are the biggest attributes that I bring to the table. Finally, being a life long resident of the community, I feel that my passion and loyalty to the town will lend to positive to positive progress for all.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it? There are many issues that are facing our town. First, would be the lack of trust that the community has towards the council. The taxpayers approved a 3 mil levy for the construction of a new Fire/EMS Station during the spring of 2016. However, nearly 18 months later construction has still not begun. How will I fix that? Listen to what the taxpayers voted for and start the construction of the station. The prints are already developed and funding has been secured by tax dollars. We must listen always to what the taxpayers want. Next, the construction of a new sewer plant. Our current sewer plant has been out dated for the last 12 plus years. We will work with State and local leadership to begin the project and secure additional funding. To me, raising the taxpayers rates is not an option. We currently have the second highest rates in the county but, inadequate facilities. Why hasn’t this been fixed already? Why are the rates so high? Getting the sewer plant replaced and furthering development of the community with both additional residences and businesses will be among my priorities.
If elected, what would be your chief priorities? Many things; we have a lot to get accomplished — Begin construction on the Fire/EMS Station; begin planning & replacement process of sewer plant; develop a business partnership between community business & village council; develop 5, 10 and15 year economic & growth plans for the Village of West Alexandria; provide 24/7 police protection to the village; work to reduce trash collection rates; strategically work to create a replacement program for village streets, alleys, sidewalks & curbs.
Name: Deb Smith
Office seeking: West Alexandria Village Council
Occupation: Self employed at K& D Body Shop and Transportation at Twin Valley Community Local Schools/Retired both in 2012
Past Political Post Held: Currently: Village Council Since 2010 and Zoning Board for the Village of West Alexandria
Education: Graduate of Twin Valley South Community Schools in 1976
Community Involvement: I am active in my Church in Middletown, and am currently involved in the media department at the Oasis Church and also Tim Sheets Ministry with Media Duplications and Distribution. Past Director and Producer of Oasis TV programming for Local Cable Stations and TBN Broadcasts. Was active in West Alexandria Celebration Committee from its inception until May of 2017. Bringing the fireworks back to West Alexandria on July 4th.
Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position? I have lived in this community all of my life. Graduatingfrom TVS, I have maintained a family business for over 30 years in the community. I do not have any college degrees but I feel that I have lot of common sense knowledge to bring to the table for the betterment of the citizens of this village — and the ability to make good strong positive decisions.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking ,and how would you address it? Currently, we are involved in re-alignment of the village offices and Water and Sewer Departments, since retirements of Chris Day and Judy Myers-Corn. Town Hall is still on agenda, sewer plant is a major need, Fire/EMS building is progressing through the financial paperwork. But the big question is “Where is the money coming from?” Don’t want to raise any taxes or water bills without major needs — remember we live here also.
If elected, what would be your chief priorities? My biggest priority right now is to streamline the budget, (Making sure that the dollars that are being spent on needs and not wants). Looking at things around the village and seeing if it could have been done more efficiently, is my main direction at this time. Being in business myself for over 30 years and every so often I would have to look at my overall spending and purge a few things, I believe that it is time that we need to do just that to the village budget, changing our financial status. This is my biggest starting point. Everything that we need to do takes a lot of money — the sewer plant namely — looking for grants and the budget streamlining, finding the needed dollars, without coming to the taxpayers unnecessarily is my current direction.
Name: Kenton R. Tubesing
Office Seeking: West Alexandria Village Council
Occupation: Auctioneer & Co-Owner of Treasures in West Alexandria
Past Political Post Held: None
Education: Graduated Richmond Senior High School
Community Involvement: I have conducted various benefit auctions, supported & sponsored many WABO and SAY Soccer teams. I have always tried to help my neighbors whenever possible. I work hard to keep my properties neat and clean.
Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position? I have been a business owner in West Alexandria for the last 25-plus years. I feel that with my business background I can help promote business in the village that is greatly needed. I am semi-retired so I will have time to dedicate to the village that people who still have full time jobs cannot.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office you are seeking, and how would you address it? The most crucial issue facing the village is the need of a new sewer plant. A new sewer plant has been needed for many years and now the State has made it mandatory. Funds thru grants and a possible levy will have to be obtained. Without the new sewer plant West Alex cannot grow. We have annexed land that can be developed that will increase our tax revenue. We will have to spend money before we can make money.
If elected, what would be your chief priorities? I would first try to get our new WA Fire/EMS station built that has been on hold way too long. I would then work on obtaining monies and building a new sewer plant. Then we could develop some of our land that is already annexed into the village . We then would have more money to spend on other projects that we desperately need. Everything West Alex needs will cost money, but if we all work together West Alex can be made great again.