All three challengers for seats on Hilliard City Council have received financial support from other council members, but the two incumbents seeking re-election have not, it was learned at last week's Candidates Night in the Safety Services Building.

All three challengers for seats on Hilliard City Council have received financial support from other council members, but the two incumbents seeking re-election have not, it was learned at last week's Candidates Night in the Safety Services Building.

In response to a question from ThisWeek, candidates Joseph Erb, Nathan Painter and Cornell Robertson all said they have received financial donations for their campaigns from current council members Stephanie Kunze and Tim Roberts. Council member James Ashenhurst also made a financial donation to Erb and gave incumbent Bill Uttley some wires for yard signs.

Council member Albert Iosue said it was important not to receive any support from council, "because I want to be an independent thinker. I always want to vote the way I feel is best for the community."

Painter said that although Kunze and Roberts have donated to his campaign, "They've not asked me to do anything. I made it very clear to them just because they give me money, I'm not going to support them or vote their way. I'm glad for their support, but it's not going to bind me."

"I have received financial support from Stephanie Kunze and Tim Roberts," Robertson said. "Like Nathan, I have made it clear that I am my own person."

"I have not received any (financial) contributions other than from family and friends," Uttley said.

Incumbents Iosue and Uttley are seeking another term; Roberts is not seeking re-election.

The five Republicans spoke at a Candidates Night on April 20, sponsored by the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Marcus Thorpe of WCMH-TV.

Erb, 28, has lived in Hilliard for more than four years and worked for former speaker pro-tempore of the Ohio House of Representatives, Chuck Blasdel. He said he's a fiscal conservative who wants to streamline city services, reduce the barriers to new growth and attract new jobs.

Iosue, 42, has lived in Hilliard for 15 years and is a civil engineer who works at the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio. He said he will continue to focus his efforts on public safety and adopting a balanced budget while planning for community improvements.

Painter, 33, is an attorney. He has lived in Hilliard for seven years and worked on the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Farm Market. He said he wants to maintain and enhance the quality of life, ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely and attract small business.

Robertson, 40, has lived in Hilliard for 18 years and is an engineer in the Franklin County Engineer's Office, where he began working immediately upon graduating from Ohio State University. He said he will work with others to arrive at the best solution to problems.

Uttley, 55, is a lifelong Hilliard resident with his own real estate appraisal company. He said he will continue to focus on responsible economic development, controlling growth and city spending, and on reducing traffic congestion.

The chamber asked what specific actions the candidates would initiate to bring in and retain businesses.

"We need to start identifying businesses outside Hilliard to bring them in," Painter said. "What businesses are outgrowing their space? Do we have leaders who have businesses elsewhere that we can bring in?"

"I have an idea for a technology corridor on Britton Parkway," Robertson said. "If we can attract some high-end developments, that would also help smaller businesses (and) it would help the community from I-270 to Old Hilliard."

"We've gained 744 new jobs since 2008," Uttley said. "We have a lot of prime, freeway-oriented land that is available for development. Working closely with the administration, council has a number of tools in the toolbox to bring companies to Hilliard."

Uttley also credited the administration for maintaining city services with a reduced workforce.

"We have some great businesses here," Erb said. "We want to make sure they are comfortable and can expand. The next thing we need to do is cut the red tape. As a council, I think we need to be cheerleaders for the community."

"The council and administration is already doing what it needs to do," Iosue said. "We are already offering those economic incentives to bring those businesses to our community. I've opened up the sign code to make it more business-friendly."

Answering questions from the public in a round-robin format, the five candidates also said they were opposed to increasing taxes in Hilliard, supported township government, favored commercial over residential development, as well as tax increment financing for commercial developments, hoped to find a solution to Hickory Chase, and agreed that the economy and jobs are Hilliard's biggest challenge.

Iosue and Robertson praised Destination Hilliard as a way to increase civic participation, while Painter and Uttley said the organization's creation was the best legislation council has approved in the past four years. Iosue said a ban on texting while driving was the most important legislation, Robertson said the Triangle Project was the most important, and Erb said "allowing more voices to be heard is better than any single piece of legislation."

When asked how they would vote on the school levy, only Iosue said he would vote in favor of Issue 7. Robertson said he hadn't decided yet. Painter, who was a member of the district's audit and accountability committee, said, "Right now is not the time to take money out of people's pockets."