Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher will try to win a third term against challengers City Councilman Mike Compton and resident Terry Beekman in the Nov. 5 election.
Butcher, 61, was appointed in 2001 to serve the remainder of a City Council term and has served on Pataskala's economic-development committee, is an executive board member of the Pataskala Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
He and his wife, Nancy, own the Nutcracker Family Restaurant on Broad Street.
Compton, 56, is serving his first term on Pataskala City Council; he was elected in 2011.
He helps organize the annual Pataskala Antique Power Show and owns a business, Classic Landscape.
Beekman, 59, is making his second bid for mayor. He currently is unemployed.
The three candidates were asked how the city can maintain its rural character, such as the city's legal firearms discharge zones, while growing and becoming more urban.
Butcher said Pataskala can maintain its rural character "by respecting and allowing for the differences between rural and urban life."
"I have come to recognize that we can't have rules that attempt to be 'one size to fit all,'" he said.
Butcher said the city needs to "ensure our ordinances are specific to the type of neighborhood and limited to the lifestyle of the neighborhood and not always have a citywide singular approach. Simply put, many ordinances that would work in the subdivisions won't work in our rural areas."
Butcher said it is critical for citizens and government officials to "respect everyone's rights regarding property and quality-of-life matters."
Compton said the city needs to adhere to the promises made when Pataskala merged with Lima Township and educate new residents on city laws.
"We promised folks when we merged the village and Lima Township of certain issues that would help to keep our rural character, yet increase the level of services," Compton said. "That balance must always be at the top of the list of priorities.
"By educating folks who move to our area of issues like gun discharge and hunting, and asking those who live here to be responsible when hunting and shooting, I believe we can live in harmony," Compton said.
"By implementing some guidelines, addressing some basic safety concerns and having our police department help to educate citizens, we will be fine."
Beekman said the city should not make any more laws restricting firearms and "tell the citizens they have to obey the laws of the state of Ohio."
The candidates also were asked how city officials can best unite the separate neighborhoods of the city: Summit Station, the Old Village Center and Columbia Center.
Butcher said activities and planning for vibrant neighborhoods, while keeping in mind the differences and history of each, will link the three.
"Clearly, we need to not only create activities but support organizations working to provide activities," Butcher said. "We must have opportunities in which residents can engage with one another and provide ways for involvement and interaction.
"Being a member of the community isn't a spectator sport, which means citizens must take on some responsibility to have an interest to be engaged," he said "This includes being aware and educated by reading the newspapers, knowing what is happening in their community, shopping and supporting local businesses and activities."
Compton said some unity already exists.
"I already feel we are somewhat united, as I work, eat and do business daily in all three areas of the city," Compton said. "We must, as city officials, continue to make sure projects and improvements are evenly spread amongst all three areas of our city.
"We also need to do a better job of keeping our citizens right here in Pataskala. I still run into folks who did not know we reopened our pool and restored a theater. The new development of shops and restaurants coming to Summit and Broad will be a great boost to this area."
Beekman said the city needs to raise the 35-mph speed limits to 45 on all roads.