City council candidates have community service in common
Five candidates are competing for four open seats on Canal Winchester City Council on the Nov. 5 ballot.
At least one of the four available seats on the seven-member council will change hands this year, after incumbent Councilwoman Leah Turner chose not to run for re-election.
Council members serve four-year terms with elections taking place every two years; the seats become available on a staggered basis so not all are up for election at one time, thus allowing for a continuum of leadership.
This year's candidates include Will Bennett and James Wynkoop and incumbents John Bender, Steve Donahue and Bobbie Mershon.
All of the candidates have backgrounds in community service: The three incumbents have long histories serving on council; Bennett currently serves with Destination: Canal Winchester and is a member of the city's Landmarks Commission; Wynkoop served on city council two years ago and is a member of the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission.
* Bennett, who works as a creative services manager for the Columbus Crew, is the father of two elementary-age children who attend Canal Winchester schools.
He said he is running to prepare the next generation of leaders in the community.
"In Canal Winchester, we have had a fantastic core of experienced leaders," Bennett said. "I would like to learn from their experience and bring my own approach and viewpoints as a parent raising young children in this community."
* Wynkoop, a chef and food service sales broker, said being involved in the community is important to him, and a way of helping to maintain the small-town feeling he grew up with in Canal Winchester.
"This is my lifelong home and I've always been interested in maintaining that small-town feeling while still providing the best community services," he said. "Residential and business development is always at the forefront of maintaining the community and services. I feel we've done a great job at this and want to keep that moving."
* Bender, a retired educator with Canal Winchester schools and another lifelong city resident, said he believes continued investment in the city is key. He hopes to ultimately attract a college to the area.
"What Canal Winchester needs to continue doing is to maintain the good roads and infrastructure we have, and continue its economic growth like we've managed at Diley Ridge," Bender said. "Ultimately, what I'd really like to see us do is to attract a college or university and expand our educational offerings here."
* Donahue, like Bender, served as a Canal Winchester schools administrator. He said he believes it is important to work across various city, school, business and residential groups to meet the needs of the community.
"I will continue to work with the other council members, city staff and residents to address the needs and concerns of our city," Donahue said. "I will work with other members of council and our development director to help attract and retain commercial development to widen our tax base and I will continue to study expenditures to ensure that we continue to have a positive final budget balance."
* Mershon, a retired Grant Medical Center nurse who served overseas in the U.S. Army, said she also wants to maintain the feel of the community where she raised her family. She believes conservative fiscal policy is important in making that happen.
"First and most importantly, Canal Winchester should continue to have a sound, conservative, fiscal policy in these uncertain economic times," Mershon said. "We need to put emphasis on bringing new, clean industries and businesses to increase our tax revenue without putting the burden on residents. I want to encourage growth and keep our downtown strong and viable."