Candidate Ryan Jolley, 32, said he wants to provide a clear vision for the direction of Gahanna for the future, and he's willing to make tough decisions that are necessary for the long run.

Candidate Ryan Jolley, 32, said he wants to provide a clear vision for the direction of Gahanna for the future, and he's willing to make tough decisions that are necessary for the long run.

Jolley is senior account manager at Staff Management SMX, where he manages a workforce of 200 employees.

"I'm a former small-business owner and the only candidate with an MBA and an economics degree, providing crucial understanding of the management demands and economic impact of city policy," Jolley said. "I'm a former teacher and the only candidate who has served effectively on both the (Gahanna-Jefferson) school board and City Council.

"I have a unique perspective on working with our schools, the bedrock of our community and also one of our largest employers. I'm the only candidate whose training and career is in management, a key qualification for leading a 24/7 professional service organization with over 200 employees, responding to the needs of nearly 34,000 residents and efficiently administering a $50 million budget."

Jolley said it's crucial to understand the difference between merely hiring a city manager and amending Gahanna's form of government to a council-city-manager structure.

"Eliminating our 'strong mayor-council' structure would eliminate the checks and balances we've always had at all three levels of government," he said. "I believe the mayor's veto power and council's ability to override that veto are vital. Recently, the damaging overreach by a bare majority of the Gahanna-Jefferson school board perfectly illustrated the dangers of a lack of checks and balances.

"The politically motivated petition drive to change the city charter, led by a high-level employee of a neighboring city, further demonstrated why such protections are necessary," he said. "As mayor, I will immediately hire a full-time administrator to oversee procedural matters while I work with residents and business leaders to improve communication and collaboration and to attract and retain more jobs."

Jolley said Gahanna suffers from a lack of visionary leadership from its elected officials.

"We suffer from an absence of comprehensive long-term planning, an inability to accurately gauge what citizens are really saying and an unwillingness to make the investments required to communicate effectively with a 21st-century community," he said. "We can do better."

As mayor, Jolley said, he will listen more to residents around the city and to business leaders around the region to attract more jobs.

"I'll ensure that we invest in our streets, parks, trails and the senior center to ensure an exceptional quality of life for everyone," he said. "But my first priority will be gathering significant resident input to conduct a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan to lay out a direction for the future of Gahanna, including a citywide traffic study to make it easier to get to work, school or soccer practice."

Although Jolley wasn't on City Council when Creekside was approved, he voted to approve the current owner, who completed the project.

"I'm pleased to see the office space and residences completely occupied, with only a few small commercial spaces not filled," he said. "A stronger economy in downtown Gahanna will bring stronger partners to the table for any future, vibrant developments. The business and residential portions of Creekside are privately owned and operated. The public portions -- the park, plaza and parking garage -- are sound, and the public's investment is legally protected. This means that, regardless of who owns the private business portions of Creekside, Gahanna will receive the money it is owed for the lease on the underlying land.

"I think there are lessons to be learned from Creekside, and as mayor, I will ensure we have a long-term plan for future development, particularly in our historic areas like Olde Gahanna."

Jolley said he hopes residents will agree with his vision for Gahanna but even if they don't, they will always know where he stands.