Four candidates are running for three open seats on Bexley City Council in the Nov. 7 general election: incumbents Lori Ann Feibel, Deneese Owen and Richard Sharp and newcomer Monique Lampke.
The candidates answered voters' questions during an Oct. 19 forum sponsored by the Franklin County Consortium for Good Government at Bexley City Hall, 2242 E. Main St. They are also scheduled to participate in a candidates' forum sponsored by the South Bexley Neighborhood Association from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Bexley Public Library auditorium, 2411 E. Main St.
Feibel, 48, was elected to a four-year term in 2013 and is chairwoman of council's Strategic Committee. She taught middle school social studies before being elected to council and serves on the board of several community organizations, including service as chairwoman of the board of the St. Vincent Family Center. She holds a master's degree from Ohio State University. She and her husband, Jonathan, have three children.
Lampke, 45, is an attorney and professor who has taught at Capital University, Ohio Dominican University and the University of Dayton School of Law. Lampke has a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She has two daughters.
Owen, 37, was elected to a four-year term in 2013 and is chairwoman of council's Finance Committee. She works in the information technology industry. Owen holds bachelor and master of arts degrees from Ohio State University. She has one daughter.
Sharp, 55, who operates The BEAT shuttle service, joined council in 2010 and served as council president in 2014 and 2015. He currently serves as Safety Committee chairman. He received his undergraduate degree in accounting from Bowling Green State University and master's in business administration from Capital University. He and his wife, Debbie, have two children.
The following are the candidates' responses to questions posed during the Franklin County Consortium for Good Government forum about their qualifications and the biggest issue facing the city in the future.
Why are you running for Bexley City Council?
Feibel: I want to be one of those families that has another generation living in Bexley. I want my kids to be able to afford to come back here and I want to keep updating this place daily so they're excited to come back here. I've spent so much energy building our community, creating opportunities for our children to have shared experiences.
Lampke: I bring over 20 years of legal experience in the public arena, where I worked for the (state) attorney general's office, and the private arena after I served seven years with the law firm Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur. But I've also taught law. My advocacy skills are effective, they're efficient, but they're also extremely fair. I also urge you to consider my personal integrity, professionalism and my community involvement.
Owen: I will always be first to tell you that when I don't know enough about an issue to make a decision, that I will always show up having done my due diligence, having done the hard work to be conscientious and thoughtful and prudent in my decision-making. I would love to be able to take that experience forward for the next four years. I think that there is value to institutional knowledge in being able to carry forward the work that you've already done. I can also promise you that, as it has been these past four years, my vote on issues that come before council will remain earned and not expected.
Sharp: I would like to thank the voters for the past eight years and the opportunity to serve as council's longest-serving member. I would like to remind residents that the budget was balanced during my tenure as Finance (Committee) chair. I pushed the city into resuming contributions to the rainy day fund in order to set aside some of the increased income tax revenue that we had after the residents trusted the city with additional tax dollars. I have advocated for dialogue with Columbus for improvement in collaboration. I'm the only council member that I know of that has introduced alternative revenue income sources to the city and proposed and supported the arboretum concept.
What is the biggest problem facing city council during the next two years and what would you do to resolve it?
Feibel: I believe that there's an area of our city that has been neglected for a very long time (the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in southwest Bexley). Until the 1950s, it was an area that was used as a dump. We know that it requires more police attention than any other area of our city. And we are taking steps to make that area better. We have a garden down there. We are now are going to be having athletic fields. ... The citizens in that area need to know we want them to be a part of our city. Before we can ever give that area a lift, we need to reclaim it as our own.
Lampke: I think that the biggest issue facing city council right now is that our General Revenue Fund stays fairly stagnant. While it does have some minor fluctuations up and down, generally no new money is coming into the city. I would love to work with other city council members and our strong mayor (Ben Kessler) to pursue additional grants that have not been sought in the past. I would also love to pursue diverse business development, not only on Livingston but on North Cassady. I'd also like to work with current property owners or business owners whose properties sit empty or are not in compliance so that we can attract other customers, other businesses and increase our tax base.
Owen: We are very fortunate in Bexley that we are generally financially and operationally sound, which affords us the luxury over the next several years of thinking strategically of what we need to do. Strategic planning across a variety of issues needs to be our focus. Financially, we need to plan for the long-range. Inevitably there will be another economic downturn and we need to be prepared. As current finance chair, I'm looking at ways to further bolster the rainy day fund. Do we do that multiple times a year? How much goes in there? Infrastructure-wise, we all know that we live in an aging community. How do we make sure roads are repaired in a timely fashion? How do we deal with water and sewer lines? Also making sure, as we move forward, to make sure all residents of Bexley have equal access to our resources. A focus on diversity and inclusion as a strategic goal has come forth as well.
Sharp: Lori Ann mentioned southwest Bexley, and I would also include north Bexley (for development efforts). We don't want to be so focusing so heavily on one area that we repeat the mistakes of neglecting another area. We need to continue to work collaboratively with Eastmoor. We're beginning projects in collaboration with Eastmoor and Berwick and North Fifth Avenue to share what Bexley has to create a greater sense of community within a wider area.