Grandview Heights Mayor Ray DeGraw is facing a challenge from current council vice president Steve Von Jasinski in the Nov. 8 election. DeGraw is seeking election to a third term. Von Jasinski has served 12 years on council, including the last four as vice president. He also serves as chair of council's safety committee.
Grandview Heights Mayor Ray DeGraw is facing a challenge from current council vice president Steve Von Jasinski in the Nov. 8 election.
DeGraw is seeking election to a third term.
Von Jasinski has served 12 years on council, including the last four as vice president. He also serves as chair of council's safety committee.
Von Jasinski said he decided to run for mayor after "several members of the community I have respect for approached me and expressed the concerns they have about the community. They asked me to run and I accepted."
Four years ago he supported DeGraw's run for a second term and wrote a letter to the editor asking the mayor to run again, he said.
"That was because I thought at that time he was the best choice to guide the city through the coming four years," Von Jasinski said.
"I believe my life skills and career experience are better suited for the challenges the city faces over the next four years," he said. "For the previous 25 years I was actively involved turning around building materials companies. I reorganized and reconfigured economically poor performing companies and made them profitable."
That knowledge and experience would be helpful as the city faces the budget challenges over the next four years as it waits for the Grandview Yard project and other economic development in the city to come to fuller fruition.
DeGraw said he wanted to run for another term to help continue to guide the city through challenging times.
"We've gone through a lot during the last several years, and I think we have a good plan in place to get us through the next several years," he said. "We've put together an outstanding team, the best people to have in place during this time.
"We've put together a vision to look at what we can do to really set the community up for long term success and build something that would be better for us and our children," DeGraw said.
Working with council, his administration has been able to attract businesses and commercial investment to the city, he said.
"We have a strong level of cooperation right now with city council, the school board, the business community and a good relationship with other communities and that will be important as we move forward," DeGraw said. "It takes time to build those kind of relationships."
The most important challenge for the city is to generate new revenue, especially with the loss of state funding, he said.
"We will continue to look at how we operate the city," DeGraw said. "Over the last eight years we've reorganized our operations and reduced staff to become more efficient and to position ourselves to get through these difficult times while maintaining the quality of our services."
The city is continuing to operate at a deficit and its cash reserves may well shrink to below $60,000 by the end of next year, Von Jasinski said.
"The current mayor has made cuts when directed by council, but has not been as good at bringing new ideas to the table," he said. "I have never accepted the mantra, 'That's the way we've always done it.'"
As mayor, he would bring many options to council for its consideration, Von Jasinski said.
"We've got to find ways to be able to continue to provide our services within the current revenue stream," he said.
He opposed placing the income tax levy on the ballot last year, Von Jasinski said.
"I called it the 'procrastination levy'" because it meant delaying difficult decisions the city has to make at some time, he said.
The city needs to do more to consider sharing services with other communities, Von Jasinski said, adding that he has discussed ideas for sharing services with counterparts in other communities.
He also opposed the pay increase for the mayor that council approved last December. The mayor's salary will increase from $22,000 to $26,000 in 2012 and gradually rise to $36,000 in 2015.
"It's not the actual dollars so much as it is the idea that you're raising the mayor's salary during a time when so many other people are losing their jobs or (not seeing) their salaries increase. The mayor's position is a part-time job you ask for."
If elected, he will give back the amount of the raise, he said.
The pay increase issue was studied by council's planning and administration committee and the amount approved by council was what was deemed fair for a position that really is no longer a part-time job, DeGraw said.
"It's become a much more complex job than it used to be," he said.
The salary is 25 percent below the next lowest pay rate for a community with a strong mayor type of government structure, DeGraw said.
DeGraw, 63, has served two terms as mayor and previously served three terms on council, including six years as council president. He has also served 20 years on the planning commission.
He works as a commercial realtor involved with property management. DeGraw has a B.A. in political science and earned a master's degree in city and regional planning from Ohio State.
Von Jasinski, 61, is retired. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Miami University.