City Council primary
Republican challengers oppose higher income tax
Three Republican candidates are challenging three incumbent Republicans for at-large Reynoldsburg City Council seats on the May 7 primary ballot.
William Schuck, Daniel Skinner and Marshall Spalding are seeking the seats now held by incumbents Barth Cotner, Monica DeBrock and Chris Long.
The top three finishers May 7 will advance to the general election in November, when they will compete against former council member Preston Stearns, a Democrat.
The top three finishers in November will earn four-year terms on council.
Schuck, 46, is a writer and teacher. He has held public relations, communications and marketing positions with Wexner Heritage Village, Bricker and Eckler, ELCA Southern Ohio Synod, Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio, KeyBank and Penton Media.
"I have primarily been responsible for two things: helping people and growing businesses," he said of his career. "Putting people first is what will make me an asset to Reynoldsburg City Council because I plan to serve and help residents by addressing their concerns in a timely and conscientious manner -- the way I have gone about my work throughout my career.
"The other asset I bring to the table is understanding what it takes to grow businesses. Our city must have an environment that encourages business growth."
Schuck said business growth must be encouraged as Reynoldsburg battles unemployment, rising taxes and a stagnant or shrinking tax base.
"I can tackle tough issues for the city of Reynoldsburg right away as a City Council member," he said. "Through my work with Government Product News Magazine at Penton Media, I gained knowledge and insight about governmental planning, purchasing and specifying processes at local state, regional and federal levels.
"I am also familiar with a wide range of community development issues because I maintained, compiled and interpreted CRA lending statistics in my work at Key Bank," he said. "At Bricker and Eckler, I was exposed to legal issues and statistics regarding zoning, subdivisions and land use (and) development as part of my work with the law firm's real estate, investment banking and structured finance practice groups."
He said his experience in Key Bank's government relations department helped him understand and interpret challenging legal, political and regulatory processes. He said he also wrote more than 40 corporate expenditure policies that helped save the company more than $100 million in three years.
Schuck said the city needs to fill the vacant development director's job, because the position is critical to sustaining job growth and a competitive business environment.
"I would also like to see a reduction of 2 percent or more in non-salary expenditures," he said. "These reductions would free up about $130,000 which could be used for the Senior Center, recreation department programs or to fund other programs and services that residents count on today."
He said the city should privatize sponsorship of the Independence Day fireworks, which would save the city $25,000 annually and give local businesses a prime marketing opportunity.
Schuck said he also would offer a local business preference for contracting opportunities and streamline the contracting process through paperwork reduction and technology improvements.
He said the Block Watch program should also be expanded, to increase safety and security in city neighborhoods.
Schuck said he opposed the income tax increase proposal in 2011 and would continue to oppose a similar issue.
"There are ways to balance the city budget without raising taxes, laying off staff or cutting city services," he said.
He supports the Buckeye Institute plan for Reynoldsburg, which outlines ways to "reform" employee compensation instead of raising taxes. It's available online at buckeyeinstitute.com, keyword: Reynoldsburg.
Schuck and his wife, Michelle, have three children, ages 17, 14 and 10.
Skinner, 32, is an attorney and co-founder of a law firm.
He has worked for an Ohio Supreme Court justice and a Common Pleas Court judge.
"As a small-business owner, I will have the flexible schedule necessary to serve the city diligently throughout the week," he said. "As an unmarried young person, I have the time, energy and commitment needed to fulfill the job responsibilities in a thorough and dedicated manner.
"I have a heart to serve my fellow citizens and my experience in serving those who have already been placed in my life, whether it has been my clients, former classmates or siblings, has prepared me well to serve as a city councilman," he said.
Skinner said his experience as an attorney, working for public servants, serving his fellow students in student government and his current experience in serving on the Reynoldsburg Planning Commission has been good preparation for a council seat.
"I look forward to listening to citizen needs and helping to solve the problems facing our city," he said.
He said defining "a clear vision" for the city is critically important.
"Our current City Council has not established a clear vision for our citizens and this has caused confusion and inconsistency within our government," he said. "We need to define where we're going before we try to define how we're going to get there. Some of the issues that face us are within City Council's control or influence and some will need to resolved with the help of other departments."
Skinner said city leaders must "act more responsibly and diligently to solve issues within the City Council's control," such as taxing and spending practices, public safety, business development and code enforcement.
He said Reynoldsburg citizens have turned down a tax rate increase multiple times.
"I would oppose efforts to raise our taxes without voter approval by decreasing or eliminating our tax credit," he said. "We also need to hire a business development director to bring in new businesses to help generate more revenue. We need additional income from businesses to help pay our policemen, repair our roads, keep utilities at reasonable rates and clean up certain parts of our city.
"We also need to increase our code enforcement efforts to protect our property values," he said.
Skinner said he would like to take a leadership role in fighting crime in the city by organizing and supporting task forces to diminish gangs, drug rings and other criminal activity.
"I can also use my experience and expertise to help negotiate city service contracts," he said.
Spalding, 68, is a retired corporation manager.
He was a manager in the biomedical corporate community for 30 years in various states. He also served on national and state boards in the medical technology field.
"Experience, commitment and leadership are the sound bites to my campaign," he said. "I have been a corporation manager for over 25 years with large firms such as Siemens, Baxter, Cardinal Health and American Hospital Supply.
"The experience of managing warehouse distribution, sales, marketing, technical service, installation service department, customer service and credit and collection departments has qualified me to manage at the highest levels of business," he said.
Spalding said the Six Rivers Chapter of the Clinical Laboratory Managers Association elected him to its board of directors.
Locally, he serves on the Reynoldsburg Design and Review Board, Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Board and is a committee chairman for the Reynoldsburg Senior Center.
"I have also been a youth sports coach for more than eight years with Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation in basketball, football and soccer," he said. "Both my wife, Lauren, and I worked with the Reynoldsburg Touchdown Club to work the concession stands as well as work the bingo to raise funds for our high school programs."
Spalding is a United States Army veteran and an Eagle Scout.
He said he would like to see a concentration on city infrastructure.
"Much work needs to be funded to fix the leaking water pipes in our city that is costing us over $1.6 million per year in water waste," he said. "I would also like to see someone from our city attend meetings with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, because this is where we will get funds approved for street repair and resurfacing.
"If we are not going to these meetings each month, other communities may be getting these funds for their city," he said. "Our city could go a long way in building up our internal infrastructure. It will not happen if we are only contributing 2 percent of our revenue to our capital improvement fund when just a few years ago, we were contributing nearly 15 percent."
Spalding said most of the issues that need focus in the city deal with financial situations around improving the infrastructure.
He does not favor a city income tax increase.
"The city must do a better job of engaging the community about the level of services they are willing to support and then collaborate about methods to ensure adequate revenue," he said. "Increased income tax is but one solution that should be explored, but only after community engagement and with the full support of City Council and the mayor."
Spalding and his wife have four children.