Worthington voters will choose from among nine candidates for four Worthington City Council seats on their Nov. 7 ballots.
Four incumbents – Rachael Dorothy, Scott Myers, David Norstrom and Michael Troper – face challengers Sean Demaree, Michael Farley, Beth Kowalczyk, Ian Mykel and David Robinson.
The nine candidates answered ThisWeek's questions about their qualifications and local issues, including communication with residents, development and transportation. Their responses have been distilled into the following capsules in alphabetical order, but their complete and unedited responses also are available at ThisWeekNEWS.com/Worthington.
Demaree, 50, ran for City Council in 2015. At the time, he said, he regretted not being able to devote more time to his campaign.
This election, he described himself as "a concerned citizen who wants to serve our city" rather than a "bumper-sticker politician."
Demaree works in the mortgage department of JPMorgan Chase.
He said he has been emphasizing communication with residents and wants to "eliminate the current 'us vs. them' mentality of City Council."
If elected, Demaree said he would like to see trails and sidewalks connected throughout the city and would like to explore options for the city purchasing the former United Methodist Children's Home property.
"My idea is to have the city buy the UMCH property so the citizens can vote to determine what the overall design of the property will be," he said. "I, personally, would like to see a great green space with soccer fields and a walking and bike path for all of Worthington to enjoy. I will not be a representative for special interests."
Dorothy, 40, has served on Worthington City Council for six years. She was elected to an unexpired term in 2011 and is the third woman in Worthington history to serve on City Council.
An advocate of bike and pedestrian improvements in Worthington, Dorothy said she has made transportation improvements a focus of her time on council and her 2017 campaign.
"I believe investing in multimodal transportation options throughout Worthington will enhance the opportunities available to people of all ages and abilities in Worthington and will be more cost effective than focusing exclusively on moving cars through Worthington," she said. "Accommodating people's ability to travel safely along our public rights of way in whatever mode they would like should be our top priority."
A mechanical engineer, Dorothy said the city should "continue to balance business needs within our current commercial districts with residential and community areas."
She also said City Council could improve its communication and responses in regard to residents' concerns.
While he hasn't served on City Council, Farley, 39, said he has experience in government.
An attorney, Farley has served as judicial and legislative affairs counsel for the Supreme Court of Ohio, the head of legislative affairs for two state agencies, a legislative liaison and a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives. He currently serves on the board of trustees for the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education.
Farley said he believes in "the virtue of public service" and emphasizes positivity, openness and being "an active listener."
"I will be a positive voice for Worthington," he said. "I have spent my whole life working and learning. These skills in government and nonprofit service I want to bring forward to serving my community."
Farley said development projects are "precious," given Worthington's landlocked nature, and a site like the UMCH should be consistent with the "shared values" of the community.
He said he would take "a long view of the transportation needs" of the city.
Kowalczyk, 49, is chief policy officer for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Although she hasn't held an elected office, she said, she has "been advocating for good public policy for over 25 years at all levels of government."
Kowalczyk said she plans on being an "advocate" for Worthington residents and she wants to make the city "a livable community for all."
"We need someone who has a vision of the future and our place in it," she said. "I am prepared to do the hard work to bring people together to make that vision a reality."
Kowalczyk said that "livability" includes transportation options for residents of all ages, and she would emphasize direct communication with residents.
When it comes to development, Kowalczyk said, she would attempt to balance the need for tax revenue with "preserving what makes Worthington unique."
Myers, 60, has served on Worthington City Council for eight years.
He said "experience matters" and the city needs leaders "who can unite, not divide."
"I am not a politician and I aspire to no other office," he said. "I do this because I have a passion for democracy and realize democracy is not a spectator sport. I have always put my money where my mouth is. I have personally funded all three of my campaigns and have never taken a contribution."
Myers works as an assistant attorney general for the state and is the council representative for the municipal planning commission, on which he served for eight years before being elected to City Council.
He said City Council was "not doing an effective job of communicating" in 2015, when complaints about that communication dominated the conversation, but he thinks council members have improved.
For development, Myers said, the city's "top priority is and should be the Wilson Bridge Road corridor," and the city needs to "find ways other than cars" to move people throughout the city.
Mykel, 50, is a telecommunications specialist and first-time council candidate.
Mykel said he would like to "slow down decisions where people are expressing concerns" to City Council and would support an overhaul of the city's comprehensive plan.
"In order to move forward, I believe the city must revisit its comprehensive plan so that key sections are rewritten with large groups of citizens giving input," he said. "City Council has a responsibility to build trust and create avenues for discussions between citizens and potential developers so that everyone understands what Worthington expects before resources and efforts are dedicated to potential projects."
Mykel said the city does not devote enough resources to maintaining and expanding parks and paths and he would advocate for work on access for bicycles, pedestrians and vehicles.
He said the UMCH project as an example of a lack of communication with residents and City Council "should focus on transparency and support ethical oversight."
Norstrom, 67, served on City Council from 2006 to 2011 and has been back on council since 2014.
He has served on the architectural review board and municipal planning commission and is a founding board member of the McConnell Arts Center.
Norstrom said he believes City Council listens to residents and members "were listening, we just were not agreeing."
He said economic development is the "lifeblood" of the community and advocates a holistic approach to development.
"The best option is to attract new businesses and their employees to move to Worthington, as well as offer opportunities for existing businesses to grow," he said. "Where development involves physical infrastructure, the city must look decades ahead and consider the impact on traffic, sewers, noise and public services."
He said he supports "a mix of commercial, retail, different housing options and parkland" for the UMCH property.
Norstrom said several projects in the works will improve transportation in Worthington.
Robinson, 55, is the president and co-owner of manufacturing company Marcy Enterprises; he also led the Keep Worthington Beautiful initiative in 2015.
He said he emphasized "full transparency" from City Council, and although the city "does a good job of providing basic services," Worthington needs to improve on larger projects.
"When it comes to larger, high-impact issues, particularly about land-use and development, it is often difficult, if not impossible, for residents to receive timely, relevant information from the city," he said. "And without information, residents become marginalized, unable to make informed judgments and participate in decision-making."
Robinson said the city "can do better" than its current processes related to soliciting proposals for developments like UMCH, and clarity would result in a better compromise in such projects.
He said he likes the idea of improved transportation methods that would allow residents to leave their cars at home for a night or a weekend.
Troper, 53, has served on City Council for four years and is the fiscal officer for the Upper Arlington Public Library.
He said he supports added "transparency and communication" from City Council and would like to see expanded methods of communication via social media and other means.
"City Council's responsibility is to listen and take all concerns of residents into consideration as to what is best for the entire Worthington community, not just for the next few years, but looking at Worthington for the long term," he said.
Troper said development in Worthington should maximize tax revenue, and he supports tax incentives and other financial ways of attracting business. He said the UMCH site should contain "mostly commercial businesses along with some green space and residential housing."
Troper said he has been an advocate of bike and pedestrian efforts, wants the city to allow golf carts to be used throughout Worthington and is interested in the city establishing a bike-sharing program.