Grove City Council's current president will take on the son of a council president and mayor in a Nov. 5 bid to be the Ward 1 representative on City Council.
Incumbent Ted Berry will defend his seat in November against resident Gary Haughn.
Berry, 44, a 16-year resident, is seeking his third consecutive term. He has been council president for the past six years.
Berry is the director of business development for Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. He also is the founder of Grove City Tomorrow and is member of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, the Ohio Economic Development Association, Grove City Noon Lions Club, Franklin County Farm Bureau and other groups.
Berry said Grove City stands on the "threshold of a new economic era," and that over the next few years, big decisions will have to be made.
He said his business development background and ability, open-mindedness and consensus-building skills are what he brings to the table.
"Areas like Beulah Park ... can be an asset or a future blight," he said. "Our challenge is keeping with a shared, focused vision that is well thought out."
Berry said he favors the city purchasing Beulah Park, or at the very least, controlling it with "extremely stringent zoning" to keep it from turning into additional warehouse or industrial space. A recreation center, an adult pool, open green space and possibly housing should be the goal, he said.
"We can't risk waiting for it," Berry said. "We have enough warehouses. ... Dedicate it to the community."
Grove City, Berry said, needs to diversify by attracting young professionals and empty-nesters to remain vibrant; to bring in the former, he said, the city needs high-tech, high-paying jobs.
"Companies locate where the talent and social environment is suitable," he said. "We need to treat parks and recreation and beautification projects and additions as an economic development tool to attract the best and brightest, venture firms, and new professionals."
Haughn, 61, a lifelong resident of Grove City who graduated from Grove City High School in 1970, is running for public office for the first time, although Grove City government experience runs in the family. His father, George Haughn, was a council president in the 1950s and later served as mayor, and the family legacy goes back farther. Orders and Haughn roads were named after his ancestors, Haughn said.
"I'm homegrown," he said. "If I have the opportunity to serve, I appreciate that."
Three years ago, he retired after working 33 years as a lineman for AEP. Currently, he's on the board of directors for Grove City Little League.
Haughn has been married for 39 years to Debbie, who works for Southwestern City Schools at Holt Elementary School. They have an adult son and daughter and two granddaughters.
Haughn said he's not a politician, just an honest person committed to working toward a brighter future for his children and grandchildren.
"Grove City has been good to me and my family, and I want to give back," Haughn said. "Now's the perfect time to get in if I'm going to do it."
For Haughn, the biggest issue is revitalizing the Town Center.
"We need to get people downtown," he said. "We need to get something down there to bring it back."
Haughn said he supports the Pizzuti Town center redevelopment plan, adding that there are still concerns about parking to be addressed.
"I think it's a good plan," he said. "I think it's going to take off."
As for Beulah Park, Haughn said he wants to see the city partner with a developer
"It's a gem, if we really can tie it all together," he said. "I think it would be a great opportunity."
Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haughn's email is Gary@garyhaughn.com.
This is the first in a series of articles about Grove City Council races. Ward 3 and the at-large seats are also on the ballot this year.