Voters will decide in the May 2 primary election which four Republicans will run in November for Hilliard City Council.

Four incumbents are seeking re-election: Tom Baker, Les Carrier, Kelly McGivern and Bill Uttley. Andy Teater, president of the Hilliard City Schools board, is the fifth candidate.

Hilliard is one of a few municipalities in Franklin County to have partisan City Council seats and conduct a primary, and four seats are up for election.

Two Democrats, Chad Queen and Sarah Schregardus, also are in the race. Because only two filed, no primary election is necessary and they automatically advance to the Nov. 7 general-election ballot.

All four incumbent Republicans have said they want to continue leading the city and to build on its recent successes.

Meanwhile, Teater, 55, has served 12 years on the school board. He said he wants to serve on City Council to ensure the city has "balanced growth" and to be "a voice for the people."

Guiding development

The roots of Teater's campaign go back almost two years.

In 2015, Teater and Carrier helped form Keep Hilliard Beautiful, an organization that placed the Issue 9 charter-change amendment on the ballot in March 2016. Voters approved the charter amendment to prohibit City Council from rezoning by emergency and from using tax-increment-financing agreements for residential developments or those with residential components.

"Keep Hilliard Beautiful was formed because City Council ignored the community and passed a tax incentive for a developer to build apartments," Teater said about City Council's 6-1 decision in 2015 to approve a TIF for Vision Development to build The Pointe, a 218-unit apartment complex on Trueman Boulevard north of Davidson Road.

"The city needs to focus on commercial development. Our school taxes are higher than Dublin's (but) not because we're inefficient. The reason for the disparity is that Dublin has a better commercial tax base.

"We need to slow down or stop developing apartments until we can attract more businesses and industry to increase our commercial tax base."

Baker, 60, was elected to his first term in 2013.

He said he agreed with Teater and he learned a lesson from how City Council handled Vision Development.

"(Our decision) was a mistake," Baker said. "A council member who ignores what happened with Issue 9 would be ignoring a large contingent of the voting public.

"Every change, every development, affects someone in some way. Change is going to occur. What's important is to have a plan for the changes."

Baker said the city's comprehensive plan should be updated.

"This update must take into consideration what our citizens desire for Hilliard," he said. "I get the impression that our elected officials think they know what our citizens want when in reality they spend very little time talking with the citizens."

McGivern, 50, is seeking her third full term.

She said she, too, is focusing on residents and their voices "were heard clearly" last year concerning Issue 9.

"A partnership between our elected officials and citizens is necessary to ensure we are moving the community in a direction that best serves our residents," she said.

McGivern said she does not want the city to lose the momentum gained from the recent opening of Bo Jackson's Elite Sports, the planned construction of a new library and other projects.

"To keep this momentum going, we need to get politics out of the way of doing what is right for those we serve," she said.

Uttley, 61, has served 18 nonconsecutive years on City Council since he was first elected in 1993.

He also called City Council's decision regarding Vision Development "a mistake" but he said he is pleased it is among several things that had led to improved communication among the city, school district and Norwich Township officials.

Carrier, 47, was elected to his first term in 2013.

Regarding growth and development, Carrier said, city leaders must not lose sight of associated effects.

"With growth comes growing pains; we are a destination city," he said. "We need more police officers (and) better traffic management."

Using roundabouts

Roundabouts often are Hilliard's response to traffic management. Although the candidates said they favor their use, how to make them best function remains a question.

"What I know about roundabouts is that 50 percent of the residents hate them and 50 percent love them," said Baker, adding that speeding and distracted driving are the causes for accidents, not engineering flaws.

"I think roundabouts are the future," said Carrier, adding that city must marshal the resources to "properly communicate and enforce the laws concerning roundabouts."

McGivern said she looks forward to the results of this year's study of three roundabouts in the city.

Teater and Uttley both said although roundabouts have fewer injury-related crashes but a steady number of minor accidents, they are confident the study will provide recommendations to improve safety.

Mayor or manager?

The candidates have opposing views on whether a city manager or a mayor is the best form of local government for Hilliard -- a question that likely will be raised when a charter-review commission is convened later this year.

The city currently has a "strong-mayor" form of government in which the mayor is an elected official. In the city-manager form, City Council members employ a city manager who oversees the daily operation of the city, nearly identical to the working relationship between a superintendent and a school board.

"It can't happen soon enough," Teater said about a city manager. "Even though the board and superintendent do not always agree, this type of governance requires that we work together to do what is best for our community."

Carrier and Uttley also said they support a move to a city-manager form of government.

Baker said he is open to the change but wants to ensure it has public support.

"The city-manager form of government warrants a close review," he said.

He compared Hilliard to a corporation and said it might be at a disadvantage.

"Corporations do not limit themselves to a local search," Baker said.

McGivern said she looks forward to the recommendations of the charter-review commission.

"I have not taken a position," she said. "Ultimately, it will be the voters that will decide. I support a vote of the people and our residents deciding their own fate."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo