Licking County News

Huber wants to get SWL voters 'emotionally engaged'

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Southwest Licking school board member Don Huber said Nov. 21 the district must appeal to voters' hearts instead of their heads when its bond issue goes back on the ballot.

"We did not get people where it really matters, which is their hearts," Huber said. "We didn't get people emotionally engaged enough -- particularly parent s."

District officials want to put the 6.04-mill bond issue that failed Nov. 5 back on the ballot in May. The issue failed by 3,033 votes to 2,598, or 53.86 percent to 46.14 percent, according to the Licking County Board of Elections.

If it were approved, the bond issue would have provided about $66.5 million for a $109-million construction and renovation project. The state would have kicked in $42.5 million, district officials said. The bond would have cost property owners about $211 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Huber said a new bond committee -- to be led by Amy Hoovler-Helwagen and her father, Skip Hoovler -- should focus on emotion. He said the former committee, led by Pataskala attorney and City Council President Dan Hayes , effectively presented the facts in a short period of time, but failed to generate excitement.

Huber said committee members need to explain to voters "the difference it's going to make for your kids. If you're a grandparent, this is the difference it'll make for your grandchildren. This is the difference it's going to make for our community."

Superintendent Robert Jennell said the new co-chairs asked him for "a lot of straight talk" with voters and short video clips to answer general questions.

"We're going to be very, very proactive," he said.

Board President Dave Engel thanked Hayes and his committee for their efforts and diligent delivery of the facts.

"That's education we don't have to do next time," he said.