Voters in Grove City's Ward 3 will decide between experience and a new perspective when they chose their City Council representative this November.
Incumbent Councilman Steve Bennett and resident Sam Clark are campaigning for Grove City Council's Ward 3 seat. Councilwoman Melissa Albright currently holds the seat but is not seeking re-election.
Bennett, 59, a 28-year resident and a current at-large representative, has served on council nonconsecutive terms totaling 10 years.
His first tenure was 1995 to 2001, and his second began four years ago. Outside of council, he is the president of the Bennett-Edgar Insurance Agency, and he serves as a council liaison to the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce and as a trustee for the Grove City Visitors and Convention Bureau. He is married to Debbie; they have two children and two grandchildren.
Bennett said there are a number of major projects in the pipeline that could change the whole outlook of the city, and he wants to remain in leadership as they take shape.
"I have a lot of unfinished work," he said. "I'd still like to bring my perspective to it. ... I have 33 years of business ownership experience. I have an understanding of our city as a business."
The Town Center redevelopment proposal from the Pizzuti Cos., Bennett said, seems to heading in the right direction, but there are some issues regarding parking, density and where a new City Hall would go that need to be worked out.
"It's going to be a challenge," he said. "At this point, it seems workable. The economics have to be right."
As for Beulah Park, Bennett said redeveloping the closed racetrack in town can be a "fantastic opportunity" for the city, adding he would like to see the city secure a portion of the property with possible uses such as a recreation center, park space for city festivals and possibly the relocated City Hall.
Around that, he said, there could higher-density housing and a high-tech business park. Bennett said he'd like to see the city partner with developers for Beulah but added it might make sense for the city to buy the land and sit on it for the right development to "bloom."
"It depends on how the numbers crunch," Bennett said. "(Beulah's) a gem. ... I think it need to be done in a joint fashion."
Clark, 27, is the marketing and social media manager for the International Collision Repair Center in Columbus.
The lifelong resident of Grove City is running for public office for the first time.
He has served in local several community and civic organizations, including: the Lions Club as the 2012-2013 president, the Noon Lions Club, the Grove City Rotary Club, the Grove City Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association as a charter member, Keep Grove City Beautiful and the Grove City Parks and Recreation Board as chairman.
Clark said he aims to bring a new perspective and energy to City Council.
"Grove City is changing," Clark said. "It's growing, and it's important we maintain that hometown feeling while bringing in the economic development to sustain us for the future."
Clark, who is single, said he likes the Pizzuti concept for the Town Center, adding while the parking issue needs to be resolved to make it more accessible, the inclusion of housing and green space will help bring more people downtown.
With Beulah Park, Clark said the city is in a "great spot."
"I'm excited to see what happens," he said. "That's the big piece of the puzzle."
Beulah, he said, needs to keep its green space to allow for Blast at Beulah, the Balloons and Tunes Festival and other community events.
"I would hate to see it go to waste," he said.
Clark said he would also like to see revenue-generating use at Beulah, such office or technology jobs, as well as some housing. The site would also be good for a recreation center. Clark said he's not sure if the city should buy the land, adding the city should be a "major driving force" on that development, work with a developer and talk with residents.
"The city should work hand-in-hand with whoever's going to invest in Beulah Park," he said.
Bennett can be contacted at email@example.com. Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.