Early in-person voting for the three Clintonville Area Commission posts up for election this year is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30.
Voting will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. April 30 at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.
The regular election is set at the same location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, after which election committee members will tally the ballots and announce uncertified results.
While the seats in Districts 3, 6 and 8 are up for election this time around, only the voters in District 3 face a choice in candidates. The incumbent in District 8, Dr. Kristopher Keller, is unopposed in his bid for a full term, while in District 6, Jennifer Kangas opted not to run again. Only Victor R. "Randy" Ketcham filed to run for the post Kangas is vacating.
In District 3, James R. Blazer II also decided not to seek another term. Former CAC representative Clare Balombin is running against Elizabeth "Libby" Wetherholt to take his place.
All four candidates, including the two who are unopposed, were asked to respond to questions about why they chose to run, what they perceive to be the most important issues facing their district, and what they think are the issues of importance to Clintonville as a whole.
Here are their replies:
Q: Why are you running for the CAC?
Ketcham: First, I feel I have the communications skills necessary to represent my district and be an asset to the commission. Second, I am a 33-year resident of Clintonville and truly appreciate all that this area has to offer. And, finally, I am retired and although active in church and community service activities, I will have the necessary time to devote to this office.
Keller: My main reason for running is that I don't feel like I have had time to learn how to best serve my district in the short time I have been a commissioner. I want at least a couple more years to learn my way around the city government so that I can help make government work better for the people of Clintonville.
Balombin: There is a need to look out for the greater good of District 3 and of the Clintonville community. It is important that our district be represented by someone who is open-minded and can look at all the facts and weigh the different needs of various segments of our community.
Wetherholt: In the time I have lived in Clintonville I have watched stores come and go and buildings go vacant and eventually (be) torn down. I would like for Clintonville to become a more vibrant place to live and work.
Q: What are the most important issues facing your district?
Ketcham: We have a good mix of lovely residential neighborhoods and outstanding commercial properties. A priority of mine will be to assure that this balance is maintained and, if appropriate, to enhance the commercial offerings, but not at the expense of the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
Keller: The No. 1 issue facing my district is crime. Several of my neighbors have had break-ins recently. Although Clintonville is still one of the safest communities in the city, crime is becoming an epidemic. I have some ideas for the creative use of social media and smartphone technology to link neighbors in a way never before possible to help thwart crime in our neighborhoods.
Balombin: I'm concerned about parking issues in our commercial districts on High and on Indianola. We also need to develop ways to combat petty theft in our alleys.
Wetherholt: Some of the major issues facing the community are businesses closing and buildings deteriorating, empty lots, absentee landlords, lack of history for residents. I would love for our part of High Street and Indianola to become a destination for people.
Q: What are the most important issues facing Clintonville as a whole?
Ketcham: There seems to be a surge in commercial activity which the commission can monitor and help regulate, especially through its planning and zoning and variance committees. It's important for the commissioners to work together for the betterment of our community. I think that trend has started this year and will only get better in the future.
Keller: The No. 1 issue facing Clintonville in general is managing a growing local business scene and merging that opportunity with the need to reduce urban blight and rehabilitate run-down residential and commercial properties. We need to be creative but responsible with zoning and encourage local investment to help entrepreneurs take those blighted properties and make them into something exciting, profitable and sustainable.
Balombin: I look forward to helping the CAC work collaboratively with other groups to improve neglected aspects of our commercial corridors, such as speed control on High Street and beautification of Indianola. The CAC needs to work constructively with developers to attract new, appropriate businesses to Clintonville.
Wetherholt: Some of the major issues are how to deal with traffic passing through the community and decreasing our quality of life. We need to create a more vibrant environment for businesses and build incentives for landlords to fix up their properties. We also need to take a more active role in the expectations we set for our public education institutions and help the community participate in making those expectations a reality.