Olentangy Valley News

Orange Township trustees

Two residents step up to take on incumbents

Four-candidate race for pair of seats on board

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Two incumbents and two challengers hope to square off in Orange Township for a pair of trustee seats Nov. 5.

Debbie Taranto and Rob Quigley will be challenged by Angela F. Wilkerson and Bob Ruhlman, if their nominating petitions are certified.

The Delaware County Board of Elections was to certify the candidates' petitions earlier this week. Potential write-in candidates have until 4 p.m. Aug. 26 to file.

Taranto won the remainder of a four-year term in a contested race in November 2011. She now is running for a full four-year term.

Taranto is the owner of Taranto's Pizzeria and the founder and a member of the Orange Township Business Association. She also founded the July Fourth Orange Celebration Parade, which is organized by the business association, and has been a member of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

She is a graduate of Ohio State University and has two sons who are graduates of Olentangy Orange High School. Her daughter currently attends the high school. She has lived in the township for 15 years.

Taranto, 46, said she enjoys working with township residents and "taking an active part in what makes us what we are."

"As someone who lives and works in our township, have raised my family, have extended family living here, I have a vested interest in who we are now and where we'll be years from now," Taranto said in an email to ThisWeek Olentangy Valley News.

"I care for our township and the people who have made this home, and want to continue working for them and taking care of our township."

Quigley, 40, is seeking his second four-year term after winning in November 2009.

He is vice president of Public Sector Product Development for Elavon Inc.

Quigley is a graduate of Ohio State University and has a master's degree in business administration from Franklin University.

He serves on the board of the Rosemont Center and has been active as a coach in the Olentangy Youth Athletic Association. He is involved with various organizations, including the Salvation Army and Hearts for Honduras.

Quigley and his wife, Stacy, have two children and have lived in the township for more than 10 years.

"I enjoy living in Orange Township and we have a great family-oriented community.," he said in an email. "I ... believe in being transparent with our residents, business community and surrounding government entities.

"Orange Township is one of the leanest around for its size and we continue to make cost savings and cuts," he said.

He cited several efforts to do that, including working to make the community pool operationally self-sufficient, increasing employee health-care contributions, reducing staff and participating in an electric aggregation program.

"Looking ahead, we are working on some shared service ideas and are working with the business community to develop a responsible economic growth plan, which strikes a proper balance between the needs of all Orange Township residents and its businesses."

Wilkerson, 51, is a newcomer to politics and is the owner of Diamond Tax Service. She has been involved in the tax-preparation business for 30 years.

She has been a township resident for four years and has three grown children.

As she went through the community gathering signatures of registered voters for her petition, she said, she enjoyed hearing people voice their concerns and opinions about the township.

"The more communication we have within the township, the better the township is," she said.

"I know there is no community center here," she said. "I know they have contemplated it. I talked to some residents and they think that would be good."

She said she would like to see more connection with other townships and other communities.

Wilkerson also said she thinks having a lot of green space, including recreational areas, helps makes a community viable.

"I think I'd like to see the community become more aware of that," she said.

Ruhlman, 41, is a businessman with a financial background who ran for trustee in November 2011.

He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Youngstown State University and currently works in corporate financial planning and analysis.

He and his wife, Carrie, have four children and have lived in the township nearly seven years. Ruhlman is a founder and sponsor of an after-hours youth exercise program at Glen Oak Elementary School and is a frequent attendee and participant in Olentangy school board and Orange Township trustee meetings.

"My plan is simple," Ruhl-man wrote in an email. "I have plans to lower our tax burden, improve services to Orange Township residents and clean up the atmosphere of discrimination that created huge taxpayer costs."

Ruhlman said he thinks incumbent trustees will propose significant tax increases over the next four years, including in parks and the fire department.

"I will not simply reduce excessive spending, but will improve police protection," he said.

Ruhlman also said, "Of equal importance is Orange Township's past culture of sexual harassment/discrimination within the fire department ... With the latest lawsuit payout and legal fees totaling in excess of $850,000 of taxpayer money, a culture change is required ... It is very hard to change culture when no one is held accountable."

A Franklin County Common Pleas Court jury earlier this year awarded firefighter Raechel Peters $1.7 million in a gender discrimination case against the township. Peters later settled with the township for $850,000 and her job back.

The township paid $300,000 and its insurance covered the remaining $550,000. Several township officials have said the settlement was a good outcome and saved money.

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