Upper Arlington's city council elections are coming up fast, Nov. 3. At stake are four council seats. There are seven candidates vying for the chance to lead our community. Our votes will determine who helps to chart the course for Upper Arlington over the next four years.

Upper Arlington's city council elections are coming up fast, Nov. 3. At stake are four council seats. There are seven candidates vying for the chance to lead our community. Our votes will determine who helps to chart the course for Upper Arlington over the next four years.

Like many residents I'm not all that familiar with some of the people running.

To some residents names like Ciotola, DeCapua, Johnson, Milillo, Morrison, Shadek and Steen probably only feel familiar because of the yard signs or newspaper articles. So, as we work to get to know the people behind these names better, what are some of the qualities we might like to see?

First let's consider the responsibility put upon council. At the most basic level, council members are required to show up for every Monday night meeting for four years straight. There are a few exceptions to this, but council members are donating a massive amount of time just to be present. Beyond the regular council meetings are special committee meetings, public events and constituent meetings.

Much of the work done is providing guidance to city staff based on community needs and the current city code and charter. Council members may, at times, present fresh new ideas to try and encourage change based on the desires of our involved community members. This often requires working with a diverse set of stakeholders, which can sometimes be contentious.

For all of council members' time and effort they receive a stipend of $2,500 a year. Needless to say, for the amount of work associated with the position council is truly doing this work for some reason other than money.

In fact, that $2,500 works out to $10,000 over your four-year term which won't nearly cover the investment made in becoming elected. Based on the last council election alone, most candidates double that (or more) just to get elected. There has been talk of candidates raising funds upwards of $30,000 for UA city council campaigns this election season.

These funds are used to pay for advertising and marketing -- such as the yard signs you see popping up like winter crops. Unlike winter crops that provide nourishment, these signs merely provide residents with a candidate's name but nothing to feed our curiosity about their positions.

Like most campaigns, these dollars are spent to persuade residents to come and vote for the candidate based primarily on name recognition. Considering four of the candidates will become council members responsible for guiding Upper Arlington into the future, shouldn't we already have a good idea of who they are without such a large amount of advertising?

I'm someone who happens to involve myself in a great deal of city activities -- from attending council meetings to volunteering at events to just doing my part to make Upper Arlington the community I want it to be. I find this service to our community to be rewarding on many levels and it has allowed me to meet diverse community members.

This experience has also taught me that anyone who spends a lot of time volunteering in Upper Arlington has the privilege of working with amazing people, meeting tons of residents and getting a clear perspective on why our city is the great place that it is.

I believe strong community leadership comes from the very people who have spent their time in Upper Arlington volunteering and making a difference as a part of their everyday life; people taking on responsibility for the work that makes Upper Arlington special just because it is the right thing to do.

I bring this up because I want to elect city council members based on knowing that a candidate is a committed servant to Upper Arlington and has the community's needs at heart.

This year's election, like many elections big and small, may well come down to the candidates that have the most money to spend. My hope would be that we as a community see beyond that; that we vote for the candidates that have shown a commitment to Upper Arlington through their actions, not just their fundraising capacity.

Consider the candidates who have a track record of leading community through the events and activities that make Upper Arlington so special. Consider the candidates who are spending time at the city council meetings, learning about the issues council may still be dealing with in January. Consider the candidates who you know are invested in making our community better for everyone because they've been doing that all along.

All of this year's candidates have mentioned a commitment to being fiscally responsible as our elected officials. Perhaps the candidates can do more than just say those words, perhaps they can be fiscally responsible during their campaign as well.

I hope the candidates consider letting the citizens of Upper Arlington get to know them as a fellow resident and as a community leader instead of relying on deep advertising budgets alone.

I know that is what I'll consider when I enter the polls. What about you?

Andrew

Miller