The Nov. 7 ballot includes eight candidates competing for four seats in at at-large, nonpartisan election.
Because the city charter stipulates that council members can serve no more than two, four-year terms, current President Debbie Johnson and Councilman David DeCapua will leave office at the end of this year. Councilman John C. Adams decided not to seek re-election.
Councilman Kip Greenhill is seeking re-election to a second term in office.
The other candidates are Michaela Burriss, Brian Close, Bob Foulk, Omar Ganoom, Michele M. Hoyle, Jim Lynch and Lowell Toms.
Malika Jacobs filed to run for council, but withdrew her candidacy Aug. 24, citing other obligations.
Each of the eight council candidates responded to questions posed by ThisWeek Upper Arlington News. Answers from Greenhill, Hoyle, Lynch and Toms are included in this week's edition.
Answers from Burriss, Close, Foulk and Ganoom were published Sept. 21.
Because of a reporter's error, part of Burriss' response was omitted Sept. 21 and is included with this week's answers.
Why are you running for office?
Greenhill: I learned a lot from going through the attempted recall. We should have slowed down the decision-making process on several key issues and obtained more community input. During my 17 years as UAHS principal, I demonstrated a track record of inclusive leadership utilizing the experience and insight of parents, teachers and students. The result was the creation of a vision that led to recognition by Columbus Monthly as the top central Ohio school, and by Newsweek and US News as one of the top schools in America. My experience will allow me to bring our city together as we prepare for a population growth of over 500,000 in central Ohio. I can help our city experience its best days ever.
Hoyle: Serving on City Council will allow me to use budget and financial skills honed over 30 years in Columbus and Dublin to provide valuable expertise to my own community as we develop our vision for Upper Arlington's second century. Upper Arlington is my home. I grew up here, raised my family here and plan to grow old here. I want to leave this community better than I found it so that other families – like my grandparents, my parents, and my husband, our children and me – will find UA the best place to live through all stages of life.
Lynch: Serving on City Council would be my way of paying forward to a community that has played an important role in my life and the lives of my wife and our two children, my parents, my sister and her family – all living in Upper Arlington. I have a deep appreciation of our community's people, traditions and values and I understand how City Council's decisions impact all our citizens. With growing concerns about how the city communicates with residents about key projects, I believe my 25 years of public-policy communications experience will add significant value to council.
Toms: As our political system becomes more and more polarized, government in general comes under suspicion from both sides of the spectrum. Unfortunately, this occurs even at the local level, as reflected by the recent Upper Arlington referendum for a recall of City Council members. Local government should be a beacon for openness, transparency and responsiveness to taxpayers' needs. It's time to reinvent local government and regain the trust of taxpayers, starting with simple steps such as friendly meeting venues, better communications of issues, live streaming of meetings and easy taxpayer-feedback mechanisms. Local government should also be a beacon for campaign finance reform. I will not accept one dollar from outside sources and will not spend more than $500.
Identify the top 2 issues facing the city in 2018 and explain how you would deal with them.
Burriss: Continuing in the spirit of honesty, UA must continue progress on increasing communication between council and the residents. As a council member, I'll support initiatives to video stream meetings. I'll modify our agenda to allow for public comments on non-agenda topics, allowing citizens to come before us on the record when they need a cathartic release. I'll create neighborhood commissions allowing areas impacted by commercial development to work with employees and developers before BZAP and council meetings on important concerns. I'll also work to revamp our city's webpage to make it more user-friendly.
Greenhill: Similar to our country, UA has become divided. However, with the right leadership, we can be a model of collaboration to build a vision of the city we aspire to be in 10 years. During my tenure as UAHS principal, we brought teachers, students and parents with diverse ideas to the table for discussions. The process of sitting down with people with opposing ideas was at times contentious, but it ended up uniting people as they worked on a common purpose of improving the learning and experiences of students. These types of discussions being held in locations all across the city can bring us together as we plan for our city's future.
Central Ohio is expected to have a population increase of over 500,000 in the next 30 years and we need to now begin planning for its impact on UA. The growth has already begun with an increase of 24,000 residents last year. These increases will challenge our safety forces and our infrastructure as more people travel through our city and also live here. We need to begin now building the financial foundation to keep our city safe and our infrastructure in good repair.
Raising taxes is not a solution! The necessary money will need to come from well-planned economic growth that does not violate community standards. We need to bring transparency to future development through a resident-created vision of acceptable building. This vision will give developers direction in regards to what is acceptable in UA and it also informs residents of what they can expect in their neighborhoods.
Hoyle: Financial sustainability: As our community's demographics evolve, we must balance the services and amenities that ensure young families value a home in Upper Arlington with the needs of those who wish to age in place. To ensure adequate long-term resources, we must evaluate each budget decision in the context of its long-term viability. I will challenge the administration to achieve savings without compromising quality through cooperation and collaboration with other governments as well as the nonprofit and private sectors. I also will support responsible economic development that maximizes revenue potential in our limited commercial areas while respecting existing neighborhoods.
Improving the relationship between UA government and its citizens: Government has a responsibility to communicate with its citizens, but it also has a responsibility to listen and ensure that residents' concerns are heard. We need to explore and utilize both traditional and innovative communication tools – ranging from open town hall meetings to social media – to ensure council members are accessible to the community through less formal opportunities to interact and share ideas. We're all neighbors and the more we think of ourselves that way, the greater the spirit of cooperation and compromise we can enjoy.
Lynch: Responsible development: City Council should pursue responsible economic development opportunities that align with the spirit of our community. As a landlocked city, Upper Arlington must make smarter decisions on its economic development opportunities. We must choose wisely to generate needed revenues that are essential to our ability to hold down taxes while at the same time preserving a high quality of life and strong community values that have made this city exceptional.
Improving the way City Council talks to and listens to its citizens: Increasing government transparency, communications and citizen involvement are essential as Upper Arlington moves forward. With 25 years of communications and public policy experience – in senior roles with the Ohio State University and Ohio state government – I plan to help our community improve the ways it speaks and listens to residents about key issues impacting our neighborhoods and quality of life. By improving the way our city leaders communicate with their constituents about key projects impacting our neighborhoods, we can return to a more positive spirit in our public dialogue by improving citizen outreach and charting a more effective path for Upper Arlington's future.
Toms: Zoning has always been a contentious issue and the pot is boiling with the expansion of businesses in the Westmont Road area. Also, builders are often building two houses on what used to be a single-house lot. It is time for the city to stop ad hoc development and present a clear and well-publicized master plan with extensive feedback concerning future development in our fairly densely populated, landlocked suburb.
While zoning and development is a hot-button issue, every city is graded on infrastructure (e.g, pothole count), garbage collection and snow removal.
With the new 2.5 percent tax, infrastructure projects are underway, but is the money being spent wisely? Where are the taxpayer reviews and the wide dissemination of progress reports and future project roadmaps? Will the new garbage collection program be widely accepted or panned? Have we been lulled asleep by several mild winters and are we prepared for a blizzard? Could flooding become a problem in areas of UA, especially with excessive building and development? We need to act, not react. And we need to do it with wide communication of goals and extensive feedback from taxpayers.