Griffin: Community consensus is key
Lew Griffin is one of two candidates vying to fill the unexpired seat of Heather Bishoff, who resigned Dec. 30, 2012, after winning her bid to the Ohio House of Representatives' 20th District seat.
Griffin, 67, is president of Lew Griffin Insurance Group in Gahanna.
When asked if he would support an anticipated May 2014 ballot request, he said G-J schools wouldn't have to go to the community because of additional money coming from the state.
"Gahanna-Jefferson, just like any district, cannot sustain services indefinitely without additional funds or reducing services because of the state funding model schools in Ohio must follow," he said. "I believe we must engage the community to discuss issues to improve our schools. I believe we have a good school system doing some excellent things.
Griffin said residents realize schools can't be sustained under the existing school funding model.
"It places a burden on a substantial number of our friends and neighbors," he said. "Most of us have a desire to provide the very best for our children. To improve our schools to an excellent level may take additional dollars, but this cannot come at the expense of burdening those who cannot afford it."
He said his desire is to have an excellent school system doing extraordinary things.
"This can be done with a supportive community," he said.
Griffin said he has a plan to involve many community members in discussions on many topics to improve the way the schools do business.
"One of these topic areas will be, 'How do we, as a community, provide funding for our schools without adding additional taxes?' " he said. "I think this is possible and lift the burden of additional taxes off that part of the community that cannot afford to pay another dollar in taxes."
Griffin has been a resident in the school system for more than 30 years, having four children who graduated from this district.
He grew up in southern Ohio and graduated from Capital University.
"After graduation, I taught and coached briefly in the public schools, developed a successful early childhood education program in the early '70s, before entering the insurance industry," he said. "I have had a passion for our children and our schools all these years, staying involved and having many friends who work for the school system."
Griffin's wife is a retired Gahanna teacher, and three of his children and their spouses are teachers in other districts.
"I currently have a successful insurance business in Gahanna, where I have displayed some creative ideas in my industry to gain success, and have been an active part of the Gahanna community," he said. "I believe a combination of my experiences allows me to bring people in Gahanna and Jefferson Township together to discuss ideas, come to a consensus and implement changes that will improve our already good system."
Griffin said community includes every person in the school district, along with school staff members, the teachers union, administrators, city officials and churches.
"Together great things can occur, and the Gahanna community can be seen as a community that works to protect and nurture our No. 1 asset, our children," he said.
Griffin said he believes citizens with some financial means need to invest in the community and children if the district is to become an outstanding school system.
"We have a responsibility to provide for those in our community with needs," he said. "Through conversations and community discussion groups, we can change the attitude of our community and assist in supporting change in our schools and in our community social-services program, Gahanna Residents In Need.
"A vote for me will assure that these conversations will begin throughout our community, and through a consensus of community, real change will occur in both schools and community," Griffin said.