Johnstown finance director Larry Heiser is running for mayor of Bexley, a nonpartisan position on the November ballot.

Johnstown finance director Larry Heiser is running for mayor of Bexley, a nonpartisan position on the November ballot.

Heiser has previously served as auditor in Bexley, which is also an elected position in that city.

"I'm a longtime Bexley resident," Heiser said. "My parents moved there when I was in kindergarten, and I've been active in rec department and coaching when my kids were growing up."

Heiser said his interest in the mayor's position has been stimulated by disagreements with proposals to eliminate the elected auditor's position.

"I've become interested lately because there is a charter review commission that has recommended the city get rid of the auditor's position and have the finance director report directly to the mayor," Heiser said. "I have a hard time with that because it undermines the checks and balances of having an independent position."

Ideally, Heiser would like to see the city adopt a city manager form of government that would provide for a professional administrator and a part-time mayor.

"Now that I've been in Johnstown, I really like the manager set-up, where the manager is a professional who runs it more according to business practices instead of political practices," Heiser said. "The kind of set-up where both (the finance director and manager) report to council is a good, effective way to do it."

In Bexley, the mayor's position is full-time, at a salary in excess of $100,000 annually, while the auditor's position is part-time, at approximately $26,000 annually. The finance director is full-time at approximately $85,000 annually.

"I'd like to look at changing the charter and look at a city manager," Heiser said. "We (in Bexley) like mayoral rule, but the population is changing and we have more younger families and I think the view is maybe different now. That (adopting a city manager form) was on the ballot 12 years ago or so and voted down, but I think it's time to look at that.

"Worthington uses it, Arlington uses it, and I believe it works well here in Johnstown," he said. "For the money we spend on the mayor, we can afford to pay a good professional manager for that kind of salary."

Bexley voters will also decide in November whether to increase the city income tax by half a percentage point, along with reducing the credit provided to residents who work elsewhere and pay income tax in their city of employment.

"I'm in favor of (the income tax increase), although I would have preferred a property tax increase," Heiser said. "The person who works in Columbus but lives in Bexley, with the income tax credit, is going to end up paying 3.375 percent in local tax between Columbus and Bexley. That's a pretty high number, and we have a 0.75-percent school district income tax. But I support it. If we cut the budget, the cuts will be the police department personnel, and it's clear that the public wants a strong police force."

Heiser is also unhappy with accumulated debt in Bexley, and believes the city should reduce its capital expenditures.

Heiser said he would have to give up the Johnstown finance director position if he wins the mayor's race.

"Council is aware of this, and if things go well for me in November, there will be two months to do a transition," Heiser said. "The mayor is definitely a full-time position there."