Huber Area Association president James Welch was sworn in as a Blendon Township trustee at 3 p.m. Monday, June 28.

Huber Area Association president James Welch was sworn in as a Blendon Township trustee at 3 p.m. Monday, June 28.

Franklin County Judge Alan Acker selected Welch from among the five applicants who expressed interest in filling the position left vacant after longtime trustee Jerry Ward's death in April.

Earlier this month, remaining trustees Stew Flaherty and Jan Heichel interviewed Welch and Ward's wife of 40 years, Liz Ward their top two candidates but could not come to an agreement, so they turned the decision over to Acker.

Acker interviewed all five candidates over the phone before announcing his decision via e-mail on Thursday, June 24, Flaherty said, adding that he was satisfied with Acker's decision.

"I'm happy for Jim. We had a lot of quality candidates. Any one of them in there would have been fine," Flaherty said.

"Jim's a forward-looking guy and we're going to keep the positive momentum in Blendon going."

Welch, 44, has been a resident of Blendon Township for 11 years.

"I believe I can make a difference," said Welch, who has served as president of the Huber Area Association for the last five years. "I believe I can continue to serve the residents of Blendon Township.

As co-chairman of Fight the Hike Ohio, Welch led residents' protests against water rate increases proposed by Ohio American Water.

Welch, an automotive technician, estimates that he has attended about 95 percent of the regular Blendon Township trustee meetings held in the past five years.

"As a Blendon Township trustee I will have 33.33 percent say," he said. "I have to reiterate: This is not an 'I' team, this is a 'we' team. I will work well with the other trustees to look for what is good for Blendon Township and move forward with what is good for the township in the 21st century."

Welch said his personal focus as a trustee will be street maintenance and general cleanliness.

"(It's) making what we have look presentable without a huge cost," he said. "As long as we're providing the best service possible within the means of the budget, it's an accomplishment."

Welch said that, at this point, he does plan to run for re-election in Nov. 2011. He will attend the next regular trustees' meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 7.