Whitehall News

Voters to pick councilman, three school board members

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Whitehall voters will choose three members for the Whitehall Board of Education and one City Council member on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Early and absentee voting began Oct. 1.

Three council members, Ward 1 Councilman Chris Rodriguez, Ward 2 Councilman Wes Kantor and Ward 4 Councilman Van Gregg, are unopposed.

Term limits prevented Ward 3 Councilman Leo Knoblauch from seeking re-election, leaving the seat open for challengers Larry Morrison and David Nixon.

Morrison, 64, said he wants to contribute to the current direction of council.

"I'm proud of this city and the direction we're headed," Morrison said.

Nixon, 57, said he sees ways Whitehall could improve.

If elected, Nixon said, he would ask for a city policy governing police pursuits.

Nixon addressed council members previously, calling for such a policy when a Whitehall officer, responding to a domestic incident, collided with a 78-year-old man driving to a work in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, 2012, killing the man and severely injuring the officer.

Nixon said he supports a city-manager form of government in lieu of the existing mayoral form.

"I think it's appropriate for a city our size, like others in Franklin County, to have a city manager," he said.

Nixon said he supports keeping term limits in place.

"It makes the public get more involved," he said.

Morrison said although he isn't unilaterally opposed to term limits, the practice simply does not serve Whitehall well and should be lifted.

"There is a narrow pool, especially for (administrative) offices," he said. "It's also difficult to get people to leave (private) jobs to run for an office they can't keep for more than eight years."

Concerning the postponed project to build a community center, Nixon said, the city needs to be careful not to build something beyond the community's interest or financial reach.

"It will be good to have a community center, but we need the buy-in of our residents," he said.

Morrison said he agreed with the city's decision to postpone construction of the community center but sees a need for better programs for all age groups.

"We also need to continue growing our tax base so we are not so affected by (staff reductions at Defense Supply Center Columbus)," he said.

Morrison is a U.S. Army veteran and a retired contractor. He and his wife, Laura, have one son and one daughter.

Nixon is working on his master's degree in theology while working in clinical pastoral education at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Nixon has a bachelor's degree in political science from Kent State University and is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He and his wife, Anna Marie, have two daughters.

Knoblauch, who is stepping down as Ward 3 councilman, is one of five candidates seeking three open seats on the school board.

Knoblauch and Lorna Russell are challenging incumbent board members Walter Armes and Blythe Wood, as well as Darryl Hammock, who was appointed to the board earlier this year.

"Since I can't be on City Council anymore, I wanted to continue giving back to the community," said Knoblauch, a 1977 graduate of Whitehall-Yearling High School.

Knoblauch said he would lobby for providing secondary learners of English more time to prepare for standardized tests.

Armes has served on the board since 1990, except for a two-year hiatus.

"By continuing to serve on the school board, I can continue to use my experience ... to provide our children with quality education," he said.

Russell, a 1988 Whitehall-Yearling graduate, is calling for a unified front to provide the best possible educational opportunities.

"We have to create a vision that everyone can understand and a map everyone can follow," Russell said.

Wood, a board member since 2006, said she is "pleased with the progress" of the district but that "more work remains to be done."

"One area I would like to see more improvement in is technology," Wood said.

Hammock, a 1990 Whitehall-Yearling High School graduate, is a substitute teacher and volunteer coach at the school. He was appointed to fill an un-expired term earlier this year.

Hammock did not respond to ThisWeek's questions.

Bivens is unopposed in seeking election to another un-expired term of Ronda Howard, who resigned in the summer.

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