The following responses from each Sharon Township trustees candidate to three questions posed by ThisWeek are complete and unedited.

1. What would you consider the most important issue facing the Township?

Henry Belszek: The residents of Sharon Township need to maintain the services of the Police Department. We must ensure that the Sharon Township Police Department is funded along with state-of-the-art enforcement security systems and equipment along with advanced security training and law enforcement compliancy programs. The Police Department works with sections of Sharon Township that have neighborhood “Block Watches” to keep the township safe and secured. Additional areas of Sharon Township should have monthly “Block Watch” programs.

We also need to keep our properties from being annexed to other districts.

Stephen Daley: No response provided

Lucas Haire: The increasing costs of providing services while existing revenue streams are decreasing. The State of Ohio has significantly changed the ability for townships to collect revenue over the last decade, but local governments have not done enough to adapt and plan for these reduced funding streams. Instead of adapting and changing their service model the Sharon Township elected leaders have decided to request more revenue from the residents through a property tax increase. Taxpayers are being asked to fund many priorities in Franklin County through property taxes and at some point sacrifices will need to be made on what services they will fund. The Township needs to live within its means and and focus on effecient and cost effective services. I pledge to do this as your trustee and to not support any additional levy requests. Finding a way to be more effecient so the great services that residents have come to expect can be maintained has to the the biggest issue facing Sharon Township.

Ed Johnston: The township has had a reduction of tax / local revenue for day to day operations, finding ways to raise revenue and doing my part in declining health care coverage with an immediate estimate saving's of $1,135.38 times 12 = $13,624.56 per year and over $ 50,000.00 over four years.

Laura Kunze: The most important issue facing Sharon Township is balancing our budget and supporting economic development that provides new revenue to fund our vital services while keeping taxes as low as possible.

As a resident of the unincorporated area, I am aware of the challenges created by the City of Columbus when they deny our residents fair pricing and/or access to safe drinking water and sanitary sewers.

If elected township trustee, I will fight to represent the unincorporated area residents solve these problems and ensure that our basic services (police, fire, trash, etc.) are maintained while keeping our taxes low.

I am one of the only candidates this year with an MBA, which I hope will help with the township’s budget analysis and operations.

John Oberle: Keeping institutional knowledge and experience is key to the Township's future. Most of our trustees are brand new and our senior team is close to retirement. Therefore, it is my goal as the longest serving trustee (12 years) to help train the next generation of leaders at the Township to keep the Township as strong as it is currently.

Also, maintaining services at their current level will be our key challenge based on current funding sources. The legislature has cut the local government fund. We need to be proactive to find funding opportunities while working to keep the taxes low. After doing a survey, we learned residents are very happy with current services and want them continued. The residents also do not want to expand shared services and I support their position. I have been working with our team to find new revenue sources & to increase the property value of the township through development projects. We have been very successful in bringing in new revenue and I have the experience to achieve this goal.

Phillip Smith: No response provided

2. In what area is it most important for the Township to collaborate with organizations and municipalities outside of your own boundaries?

Henry Belszek: We need to let our surrounding neighborhoods know that we would support each other if a threat or incident would to occur. If a catastrophic natural event (tornado, blizzard, flood, blackout) or a man-made event (active shooter, suicide bomber, terrorists) occurred, we would assist as much as needed to be first responders to assist during or after an event. The Sharon Township Police Department, the township roads department, Worthington Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and volunteers in public service (VIPSS) would support neighbors during any event. We also need to expand our social media communication with the use of Next Door so that we work with each other to the fullest extent.

Stephen Daley: No response provided

Lucas Haire: There are many opportunities to look at shared services or shared equipment to provide services with other jurisdictions that are within Sharon Township or share boundaries with the unincorporated areas. Since the unincorporated areas of the township are not contiguous it creates a lot of inefficiency in providing services. The Township already shares a Fire Department and cemeteries with Worthington and there is an opportunity to examine further shared services with surrounding governments or examining privitizing some government operations that can be better and more cost effectively served by private businesses. The State Auditor has also taken the lead in this area creating where local governments can share expensive equipment that is rarely used like asphalt pavers or front loaders. The township should investigate sharing other government entity's equipment rathering than buying their own that is rarely utilized.

Ed Johnston: In addition educating the public in levy / bonds and / or alternative financing for projects. Lastly, I would seek State / Federal funding for projects and hopefully wouldn't need in seeking public funds.

Laura Kunze: As a township that has had most of our revenue-producing territory gradually annexed by the City of Columbus or the City of Worthington, we need to work with the state legislature to encourage fair access for township residents to basic services such as drinking water and city sewer service. Township residents should not be charged higher prices than Columbus charges itself, as many of our families are low income. We can also work with outside communities to save money, which we already do for services such as 911 and fire/ems service.

John Oberle: 1) Economic Development- Redevelopment of properties is important for our financial base- We want to encourage projects which will greatly improve our community while providing new living opportunities for our senior and other residents. These projects will also help the financial budget of the Township. We need to work with other political subdivisions to make this happen.

2) Local Government Funding- With the cuts in local government funding we need to work collaboratively with other governments to support funding for our residents.

3) Keeping Strong Support from Franklin County- Franklin County provides great support for the Township- keeping a strong partnership with the County is important.

Phillip Smith: No response provided

3. What else would you like to say to voters?

Henry Belszek: I would like to say that I want Sharon Township to the best township to live in. I, along with other “Block Watch” volunteers are seeking funds to plant new trees throughout the township that were effected by diseased trees that had to be cut down. I would like that all township residents have the (Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) that I wrote two years ago that provides how to handle natural or man-made events. I would like township to have their own logo. I have developed emergency contact magnets, and how to emergency kit instructions.

Stephen Daley: No response provided

Lucas Haire: I have 16 years of experience in economic development and planning at the local government level. My experience includes setting and managing budgets, establishing strategic and capital improvement plans, and enacting changes that lead to more effective and efficient government.

I am running so that my experience may benefit our community and so our township can be run more effectively without the need for more revenue from our residents. I will focus on economic development within the township to ensure that development financially benefits our township while protecting the character that makes our community so special. This will help reduce the tax burden on our residents to ensure that our existing residents that built this wonderful community can afford to stay here.

I believe that our residents know what is best for Sharon Township. Through greater accountability and transparency I hope to empower residents to be more informed participants in their government.

Ed Johnston: I would seek input from the other present / past trustee's, residents and our financial officer. In addition educating the public in levy / bonds and / or alternative financing for projects.

Laura Kunze: It is important to elect a township trustee to represent the unincorporated area, who has been a resident of the township for many years. I have an MBA, which makes my candidacy different than other candidates. I also grew up in Worthington, so I know many of the families there. As chair of the Mount Air Improvement Corporation, I have a proven record helping the community get projects done for the common good. I am hopeful that voters will recognize these benefits and elect me this November.

John Oberle: It has been an absolute pleasure to represent you over the last 12 years and respectfully ask for your vote on November 7th. I am fully committed to continue to put residence first and to ensure our services are the best in the region!

Phillip Smith: No response provided