Monday October 26, 2015 12:38 PM
Five candidates — Ryan Green, Ben Lee, Lewis Main, Russell Sparks and incumbent Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson — are running for three seats on the Johnstown Village Council.
Incumbent councilmen David Keck and Bob Orsini are not running. The general election is Nov. 3 and the council terms will start Jan. 1.
Here’s a brief look at the candidates:
Green, 27, originally from Pataskala, has lived in Johnstown for just two years, but he said he has lived in Licking County the majority of his life.
He said because he doesn’t have a lot of ties to Johnstown, he could bring a fresh perspective to the village.
“I would bring a solid work ethic and youthful exuberance to council,” Green said.
He said he has done a little bit of campaigning by going door-to-door and talking to neighbors.
Green said he has been asking people what they would like to see in Johnstown and is taking note of their answers.
“I’m learning a lot and gaining perspective,” he said. “I’m letting people get to know what I can do for them. Johnstown is great because we’re so local and people know each other.”
Green said he hopes to bring more businesses to Johnstown so people have more things to do and more amenities in the village.
“We have a lot of people moving to town right now and I want us to have an era of growth,” he said. “I want to place the framework and set things in place so people can bring businesses to town.”
Green has a degree in political science from Ohio State University and works in sales at Scott’s Miracle Grow in Gahanna.
Lee, 31, said his No. 1 concern was the village’s fiscal security for the future.
“I want to understand how the money is being spent and if there’s smarter ways of using the money,” he said. “I want to make sure the Johnstown experience is the same for my daughter as it was for me.”
If elected, he said he would work with the finance director to dig through finances on a minute level and make sure the public is informed.
“We’re all in the village together so I want to do what I can to increase visibility and interact more with the community,” he said. “I enjoy hearing what I can do to help others.”
Concerning growth of the village, he used the phrase “progress with preservation” and cited examples of new businesses such as The Crafty Garden and All Things Old filling vacant spots downtown.
Lee graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in public affairs journalism and is the Distribution Center Operations Manager at L Brands.
He hopes to continue the school liaison committee and keep the dialogue open between the Johnstown-Monroe school board and Village Council.
Lee said his passion for small town sets him apart from other candidates.
“I want to see the village succeed and for us to become a destination location,” he said.
He has spent 21 years in the village with his wife and his two daughters, ages 5 and 2.
Unlike other candidates, Main, 71, has served more than 15 years on the council and Village Planning and Zoning Commission.
Main said the most important issue the village faces is handling finances.
“We aren’t underwater, but it is getting harder to breathe,” Main said in an email.
“Council set a budget and approved appropriations last year and have increased the approved spending seven times so far this year,” he said.
“We keep seeing the additional authorization to spend, but no reductions in spending.”
He suggested selling the village’s surplus water and sewer capacities to reduce costs.
Main noted the village needs to start preparing to become a city in 2020 and re-evaluating its charter in 2018.
Main was employed by Western Electric, AT&T and Lucent Technology in a variety of accounting and supervisory positions. He retired after 32 years of service.
Another one of his priorities is keeping the small town warmth and friendly atmosphere with a trained police force that provides a safe environment to live and raise a family.
If elected, Main said he hopes to increase communications from the council to the community and encourage feedback from businesses and residents.
He has worked for more than 30 years in private industry in accounting, auditing and supervision and an additional 10 years with the Ohio Department of Development.
Incumbent Cheryl Robertson, 59, has lived in Johnstown for 34 years and previously was employed with Johnson & Johnson in sales and management managing multi-million dollar budgets for 27 years.
Now, she manages her family farms in Sandusky County.
Robertson said one of the most important issues currently facing the village of Johnstown is managing the village’s budget with limited resources as the village grows.
“We need to seek economic development opportunities,” she said. “We must retain our existing business base while recruiting new businesses.
“This would bring in additional revenue to the village without undue burden to our residents.”
She explained the importance of managing the anticipated growth of the village.
“The wonderful new schools will draw new residents to Johnstown, increasing residential development,” Robertson said.
“In turn, this creates more monetary demands on the village, such as street maintenance and police protection,” she said.
Robertson has served on the Johnstown Economic Development Commission and if re-elected, she said she wants to continue to focus on economic development opportunities for the village, to help provide jobs to residents and financial stability to the village.
“I take this responsibility seriously, as local government has a direct impact on our daily lives, Robertson said. “I look forward to continuing my service on the Johnstown Village Council.”
Robertson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Franklin University.
Recently, Sparks and his family have been enjoying supporting The Big Red Band, Johnnies football, Johnstown Youth Athletic Association Football, and camping with the Boy Scouts.
Sparks, his wife have lived in Johnstown for more than 22 years. They have three sons — Ryan, Reece and Rylee.
He said his most successful and meaningful campaign strategy is just talking to people when he is around town, at the grocery store, the football game or the gas station.
“I engage in conversation that allows me to hear the needs and concerns of my fellow community members in an environment that is comfortable to them,” he said in an email.
Sparks said he is most concerned with traffic, water rates, trash service and police protection.
“My goal is to bring our police protection back up to where it was 10 years ago,” he said.
“We have several police officers that have not had a raise,” he said.
“Also, I keep hearing complaints about the current trash service provider,” Sparks said.
“I know the contract is up at the end of this year and would like to be involved with the selection of a new provider.”
Sparks works in the emergency department at St. Ann’s Hospital and volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America.