Delaware News

Delaware City Council race

Owens will examine codes, won't be 'rubber-stamper'

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Teri Owens' campaign for an at-large spot on Delaware City Council is in overdrive.

Although many candidates are busy walking the streets through the final weeks of their campaigns, Owens and her team are taking on extra duties and knocking on double the number of doors after a petition against her candidacy stalled her certification to the Nov. 5 ballot.

"I had to campaign" during the petition process, said Owens, who spends about two hours every day going door to door. "It really slowed me down, but I think that was the desired effect of those who didn't want me on the ballot."

Days after the Delaware County Board of Elections certified Owens to the ballot, it received a resident petition accusing the candidate of fraud, because the address on her voter registration is the address of her husband's Sandusky Street law office, where she is his legal assistant -- not the address of their home on Helen Court.

Her husband, Robert, owns the Sandusky Street property, and Owens said she provided the board of elections with proof that the building also has a residential component. State law allows residents who own multiple properties to chose which they'd like to list when registering to vote.

When deciding Sept. 9 whether to allow the petition, the board vote was split 2-2 along party lines, so the matter was sent to Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Husted denied the protest, and Owens was added to the ballot Sept. 19.

"I'm running for an at-large seat, so regardless of which address I live in, I'm a qualified elector," she said, echoing the words Husted wrote in a letter to the elections board. "Really, in the words of a friend, it was all much ado about nothing."

Owens is one of seven candidates for three available at-large seats. The others are incumbent Councilwoman Carolyn Kay Riggle and newcomers George Hellinger, Robert Hoffman, Terrie Price, Jeff Rike and Kent Shafer.

Mayor Gary Milner and Vice Mayor Windell Wheeler opted not to run for re-election.

While meeting with voters at city events and campaigning door to door, Owens said her attention was brought to concerns about future businesses in the city.

"I've talked to developers and business owners and some feel Delaware has unreasonable codes, inconsistent reinforcement of those codes and lack of timely communication," she said. "Whether that's the case or not, I don't know, but I just want to get in there and get that figured out and be involved in a review of the operations to ensure we're moving in that direction.

"If we don't have a welcoming spirit to these businesses, they're not going to come here and it's going to make us have to increase taxes, so it's really just about making the city more business-friendly and more things will come to Delaware to serve our citizens," she added.

Something Owens said she already had taken note of before choosing to become a candidate is the current council's apparent lack of research and discussion before passing ordinances and resolutions.

"My understanding and observation of the current council members is that they, in large part, have become rubber-stampers, and the citizens of Delaware don't deserve that," Owens said.

She cited the approval of a raise for City Manager Tom Homan as a recent example of a unanimous vote by council that didn't follow much discussion on the topic.

Because fellow candidates Shafer and Price share her sentiment, Owens said they have joined together to pool campaign resources and run as a team in hopes of winning all three of the open at-large spots.

Owens said if she is elected to council, she'll be sure to research every item on the agenda prior to the meetings and votes.

"I will take this position very seriously," she said. "I have the background to read budgets and read code, so I have those qualifications, but I think it's more about the mentality and the commitment, because (serving on council) is a public service."

Owens, 38, has lived in Delaware for 11 years and is actively involved in local Tea Party groups. She and her husband have a 3-year-old son.

To learn more about Owens and her campaign, visit VoteTeriOwens.com.

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