Olentangy Valley News

Rush is on to fill pair of township board seats

While interest is low for Powell council seats, at least four hopefuls will vie for two township jobs

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While interest in the four available Powell City Council seats has been negligible, multiple candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to take over two open spots on the Liberty Township board of trustees.

Local candidates vying for spots on the Nov. 5 ballot were required to file petitions with the Delaware County Board of Elections by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7. By Tuesday morning, Aug. 6, Powell council members Tom Counts, Jim Hrivnak and Brian Lorenz had filed to seek re-election. Council member Sara Marie Brenner, who is on vacation, didn't respond to requests asking if she planned to file, making a bid for a second council term.

Even before it was confirmed in July that both Mary Carducci and Curt Sybert wouldn't campaign to keep their seats on the Liberty Township board of trustees, candidates began expressing their interest in taking over.

As of Aug. 6, Tom Mitchell, Shyra Eichhorn, Vince Margello and John K. Hartman all had submitted petitions.

Craig Schweitzer, Philip T. Craig, Mike Gemperline and former trustee and Powell City Council member Peggy Guzzo also considered running and had taken out petitions, but hadn't returned them as of Aug. 6.

"This election is extremely important to the community because it's a majority of these boards that are being filled, so even though it's not a presidential election year, I hope residents have a big circle around Nov. 5," Eichhorn said.

Eichhorn was the first to file petitions with the board of elections. She said she is running because of her connection to both Liberty Township and Powell.

"My front door is in the city of Powell, but my backyard is the border to Liberty Township, so I have the unique situation where I have a really strong understanding of the different visions that each community has," she said. "I've always said the relationship between the two should be like a sibling relationship; they have different visions sometimes, but they need to work together and have each other's backs, especially because that relationship is going to come into play a lot in the next few years."

She is a marketing and business development consultant for Accel inc., TaDa Licensing, as well as an event planner for the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, Ohio chapter. She has served as a Powell Parks and Recreation board member, OYAA coach, Tyler Run Elementary School PTO chairwoman, Girl Scouts of America Brownie leader, Boy Scouts of America popcorn fundraising chairwoman and Strategies Against Violence Everywhere For Youth board member.

Eichhorn, 40, and her husband, Kenneth, have been residents for 14 years. They have three children who attend Olentangy schools.

Mitchell, a six-year Liberty Township resident, said his experience as an Ohio State University professor who studies microbial biotechnology could bring to the board the common-sense leadership it needs.

"I've paid a lot of close attention to what's going on in Liberty Township and I really think that, being a scientist, I can hopefully bring a little objectivity and common-sense analysis to some of the issues that are facing our community and provide a little bit of vision," said Mitchell, who added he would like to create a more-comprehensive strategic plan for the township.

Mitchell, 43, is a member of OSU's Faculty Committee on Admissions, College Academic Affairs Committee and the Board of Regents Biotechnology Credit Alignment initiative. He volunteers with the Dublin Food Pantry, coaches OYAA teams and serves as Boy Scouts of America leader.

He and his wife, Ellen, have two sons who attend St. Charles Preparatory School in Columbus.

It was only a matter of time before Margello got involved in local government. The commercial and residential developer who has lived in Liberty Township for 35 years said he has been to more than 300 trustees and council meetings.

Margello has developed the Lakes of Powell, Lakes at Silver Leaf, Woods of Sawmill and Estates of River Run, and owns many commercial properties, including on Powell's Four Corners intersection. As a businessman, he helped to form the Powell Area Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and became its first president.

"I've said for years that tax dollars aren't free dollars, and the people we put into government need to think about spending that money like it's a business decision," Margello said. "I think I can look at it from that point of view.

"People might say I have a lot of investments in Powell and Liberty, so I have a conflict of interest, but the reason I have a lot of investments here is because I believe in Liberty Township and Powell, and so I choose to invest in the community I live in."

Running for trustee "is almost like a give-back, because this community has been very good to me," he added.

Margello, 63, and his wife, Belinda, have two daughters: one a junior at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus; the other a freshman at Wittenberg University.

After trying his hand in Delaware County politics as a candidate for commissioner in 2012 and auditor in 2010, John K. Hartman will vie for township trustee this year.

Hartman said he became interested in township affairs after serving on the Save Our Services Committee during last year's fire levy campaign. He connected to township leaders through that process and was appointed to the township zoning board in the spring.

"When I learned that two of the trustees had decided not to run for re-election, I decided to make myself available as a candidate for our trustee position so that I could do my part to see that the needs of the community are being met by the township government," he said.

Although both his previous local races were unsuccessful, from 1978-97, Hartman was elected to five terms as a Bowling Green school board member. He currently is a journalism professor at Central Michigan University, where he is entering his 30th year as a faculty member.

Hartman, 67, and his wife have lived in Liberty Township for five years. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

On Tuesday, Aug. 13, the board of elections will announce which petitions have been verified and which candidates will be on the ballot. Powell candidates must obtain 150 valid signatures, while township trustees need to collect 75.

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