Mifflin Township voters will decide among three candidates to fill two available seats on the board of trustees when they go to the polls Nov. 7.
Incumbents Joe Spanovich, 760 Taylor Road, Gahanna, and Lynn Stewart, 1304 Retreat Lane, New Albany, are being challenged by Kevin J. Cavener, 3657 Olde Ridenour Road, Gahanna.
Each candidate was given the same questions from ThisWeek Rocky Fork Enterprise. The following are their responses.
Mifflin Township voters will decide a 3-mill replacement and 3-mill increase (for a total of 6 mills) for police protection for a continuing period of time. Do you support the levy, and if so, why?
Cavener: Yes, I support the levy for police protection. I was not privy to the negotiation and discussion for the ballot request, but I'm confident the trustees looked at all available options. I believe police and fire protection are the most important public services that the trustees oversee. Ensuring strong public safety forces keeps the township residents safe and will help the township attract more families to our community.
Spanovich and Stewart (shared statement): The Mifflin Township trustees voted in support of placing the 3-mill replacement and 3-mill increase on the ballot at the request of the police department and the citizens of the unincorporated portion of Mifflin Township. It is important to note that this levy does not cover or tax residents in the city of Gahanna. The 3 mills was originally voted on in 1984 around the time when the police division was established. With community challenges like the opiate epidemic and increased crime due to this health crisis, it is critical that township residents are supported by an effective police department which can serve and protect the community. Our current police division emphasizes building relationships and trust with members of the community, as well as utilizing new technology -- such as body cameras -- to protect the rights of citizens and the safety of our police. This will permit the police division to continue their service to the community.
What do you see as Mifflin's most important issue and how should the township address it?
Cavener: The most important issues facing the township are funding and communication with the public. I will work with the trustees and the fire chief to find alternative funds for capital and equipment replacement. We will collaborate together to focus on the core functions of the fire department and to proactively communicate with the public. I would also like to change the meeting times for the trustees to better accommodate the residents.
Spanovich: Finding ways to continue providing a diverse and growing community of 35,000 residents with the high-quality fire/EMS, police, cemetery and road services they have come to expect, in a cost-efficient manner, all on time and on budget. I continually look for opportunities to collaborate with other communities; foster relationships with partners such as our Council of Governments, and city, county and state agencies; identify opportunities to joint venture to stretch our funding; and support the life-saving programs and everyday heroes in our fire and police departments.
Stewart: To continue providing high-quality fire/EMS, police, cemetery and road service to a growing community, and to continue to stretch our dollars to find creative and cost-efficient ways to deliver the best service to voters for less. Maintaining good relationships with members of our Council of Governments, which we partner with on the dispatching service, and city, county and state agencies; exploring joint ventures to identify cost savings; and tapping into programs that improve and save lives in our community. Programs and support, such as ones offered by the state to prevent and fight opiate addiction, are critical to a healthy community.
Why should township residents vote for you?
Cavener: The primary job of a trustee is to oversee the operation of the Mifflin Township Fire and EMS. As a longtime resident and firefighter and first-responder with nearly 30 years of experience, I believe I am the most qualified candidate for trustee. In addition, I want to proactively improve communication between the township and the residents.
Spanovich: I believe I have always put the health, welfare and safety of our residents first, by providing best-in-class fire/EMS, police and cemetery/road services to Gahanna and Mifflin Township. As a long-time resident of Gahanna, I have watched the community grow, and I've been a part of that growth as a former mayor and city council member of Gahanna, and now as a township trustee. I believe in expanding the role of our fire personnel in proactive health, safety prevention programs, such as our community CPR program, our community EMS program, and the combined efforts of our police and fire to combat the opiate epidemic. Leveraging creative ways to finance projects, in addition to prudent fiscal planning with our tax dollars, will enable us to maintain a financially strong township. I have the endorsement of key partners in the community, including Mayor Tom Kneeland, City Attorney Shane Ewald, Police Chief Dennis Murphy, Safety Director Mark Thomas, two retired fire chiefs, Tim Taylor and Jim DeConnick, my fellow colleagues, Trustee Richard Angelou and Fiscal Office Nancy White, and the Professional Firefighters Local Union No. 2818 and the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9. As a longtime resident and veteran, I am proud of the working relationship I have established over the years with Gahanna's leadership, as well as our police and fire professionals, and would appreciate the chance to serve in my capacity as trustee for another term. I have a history of leadership and service to Gahanna and Mifflin Township, as Mifflin Township trustee for seven terms, and as a former Gahanna mayor and council member. As a veteran, I believe in honesty, integrity, collaborating with partners, and being a responsible steward of public funds.
Stewart: I have a proven track record of providing best-in-class emergency, police and cemetery/road services to Gahanna and Mifflin Township, and believe strongly in investing in our community EMS program, expanding the role of our fire personnel in proactive health and safety prevention programs, such as our community CPR program. While I believe I am open to new ideas and challenging the status quo, I am also experienced in leveraging creative ways to finance projects, including state, local and federal grants, nonprofit partnerships, cost sharing and collaboration, in addition to prudent planning with our tax dollars. This experience, coupled with the strong partnerships established with other government entities within our community, has enabled us to provide premier services and maintain a financially strong township with the best bond rating. It has been an honor to serve Mifflin Township as trustee for two terms, chairing the IT committee, and representing our township as vice president to the Regional Council of Governments, a consortium created to share projects and services to generate a cost savings for our township. I would appreciate the opportunity to continue representing the citizens of Mifflin Township. I believe my experience and commitment make it a great place to live and work.