Orange Township incumbents, parks levy win

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The incumbents in the Orange Township trustee race had an easy time maintaining their seats on Election Day.

Trustees Rob Quigley and Debbie Taranto took an overwhelming majority of the votes, according to unofficial results Tuesday, Nov. 5, from the Delaware County Board of Elections. The top vote-getter was Taranto with 2,842 – more than 41 percent of the vote – and Quigley wasn’t far behind with 2,467 votes, or more than 37 percent of the total. Challengers Angela Wilkerson and Bob Ruhlman received 651 votes (10 percent) and 774 votes (11 percent), respectively.

“I think that says a lot,” Taranto said of the major wins for both incumbents. “We both work very hard in the township and we care very much.”

Taranto was elected in 2011 to fill a vacated two-year term. She said her abbreviated term allowed her to build a solid foundation as a trustee.

“There is so much to learn and history to being a trustee that I’m so glad I’m able to continue on and just take off from my first two years,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing and I think I’ll be even stronger and better the next four years.”

Taranto said she’ll spend the next four years collaborating with other local governments to share services and recoup some of the township’s budget that has been lost to diminishing local government funds.

Taranto, 46, is the owner of Taranto’s Pizzeria and the founder of the Orange Township Business Association and the July Fourth Orange Celebration Parade.

She has lived in the township for 15 years and has two sons who graduated from Olentangy Orange High School and a daughter who currently is a student at Orange.

Quigley said while campaigning that he, too, hopes to find a way to maintain services without increasing taxes. He will begin his second term Jan. 1.

He has recently spearheaded a group of southern Delaware County elected officials who are lobbying Delaware County commissioners to increase the sales-tax reimbursements for township EMS operations.

Election Day marked the second time in two years Ruhlman was defeated in his efforts win a trustee seat. He said that doesn’t mean voters have seen the last of him.

“I’m disappointed but I have to hand it to Rob and Debbie,” he said. “They ran a clean race and you can’t ask for anything more ... It hasn’t discouraged me from seeking public office in the future.”

Parks levy wins easily

With a freshly renewed parks levy, Orange Township residents can look forward to new playground equipment, walking trails and bike paths.

Voters approved the 1.5-mill renewal parks levy Tuesday, Nov. 5, at nearly a 2-to-1 rate, with 2,627 votes (66 percent) for the levy and 1,361 votes (34 percent) against, according to unofficial results from the board of elections.

The levy, which will continue to cost homeowners $46 annually per $100,000 in property value, is expected to raise $1.54 million per year.

Orange Township parks board Chairman Len Fisher in October told ThisWeek Olentangy Valley News that renewed levy funds would afford the township additional playground equipment at Walker Woods Park and the construction of bike trails and walking paths throughout the township, including trails that would cross over U.S. Route 23 and lead to the aquatic center and North Orange Park. Fisher also said plans are in place to connect trails to already-existing ones in Powell and Liberty and Genoa townships.

The trails that are expected to connect at Route 23 will be funded, in part, through a $1 million grant awarded by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Thanks to the voters’ approval, levy funds can be used to match the grant and move forward with the project.

Funds from the levy that was approved in 2010 were used to build a pool at North Orange Park and add walking and biking trails along Orange Road and the railroad tracks. The parks board also developed Ro Park, which now has ball fields, walking trails, a picnic area and playground equipment.

All the park land in Orange Township has been donated, and levies allow those parks to be developed. In addition to the acreage near the Walker Woods subdivision that lacks playground equipment, there are two more parcels currently awaiting development: one near Little Bear Village and another on North Road near Orange High School.

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