Voters in western Licking County will have many decisions to make this fall with contested races for Pataskala City Council, Etna Township trustee and the Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school boards on the ballot.

Voters in western Licking County will have many decisions to make this fall with contested races for Pataskala City Council, Etna Township trustee and the Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school boards on the ballot.

The Licking County Board of Elections on Aug. 11 certified petitions as having the correct numbers of valid signatures.

All the local candidates who file for the Pataskala, Etna Township and the school board races were certified.

The filing deadline for candidates was Aug. 5. Election Day is Nov. 3 and absentee voting opens Oct. 6.

Pataskala City Council

City Council president Melissa Gibson, who represents Ward 2, is being challenged by Doug Perry in her bid to serve her first full term.

Gibson, 40, is a substitute teacher in the Licking Heights school district and she served as levy chairwoman for Licking Heights' 10-year, 8.92-mill emergency levy approved in 2013. She now works with the district on an anti-bullying initiative.

She was appointed to the Ward 2 seat in January 2014 to finish Mike Compton's unexpired term after Compton was elected mayor.

She said she wants to run for the seat after working the last year to provide a strong voice for Pataskala's west-side residents.

"The last 18 months I've been on council, I think I've had a positive impact and I want to continue to move the city forward," she said.

Perry, 48, is the owner of Allied Roofing of Columbus.

He said he is running to give residents a voice and he would bring a "common-sense approach to helping people in my ward and people in Pataskala."

"I want to be very available to people and I've already promised people that I won't have every answer but if I don't, I will help find an answer," he said.

Perry said he has not run for public office before.

In Ward 3, Mike Fox, is being challenged in his bid for re-election by Michael Powell.

Fox, 58, is the owner of Fox's Locks and Security and Fox's Archery and Firearms in Pataskala.

"I think City Council members are all on the same page and all working toward the same goal of making the city better," he said.

Fox said a lot has changed in the last year, with new administrators hired, and he wants to continue to be part of the positive growth in the city.

Fox was elected to Pataskala City Council in 2011 and served on the city's planning commission prior to that.

ThisWeek has been unable to directly contact Powell for comment.

Powell said on his Facebook page, "After much consideration, I have decided to make myself a candidate for Pataskala City Council representing Ward 3. I believe it's time for a new voice and fresh ideas for the city."

He said on the page he wants Pataskala to become a destination for businesses and job-seekers and hopes to strengthen the relationship between the city and the two local school districts.

Candidates who filed for the other two City Council ward races are uncontested, absent a write-in.

Suzanne Hayes said she decided to run for the Ward 4 seat after her husband, Dan Hayes, declined to seek re-election.

Hayes, 40, is a physical-education teacher at Pataskala Elementary School.

She said she supports controlled growth but wants to maintain the small-town atmosphere her family has grown to love.

Tom Lee is running for the First Ward seat held by Pat Sagar, who also declined to seek re-election.

Lee, 35, is a lieutenant with the Mifflin Township Fire Department who also works on his family's L&R Farm in Pataskala.

Lee said he hopes to make a positive difference in the city and wants to work with all residents.

Licking Heights school board

Three candidates were certified to run for two seats on the Licking Heights school board.

Brian Bagley, 41, is the director of administration at Jersey Baptist Church and is finishing his first four-year term on the board.

"The district has made some incredible strides over the past five years," he said. "We have an incredible team of students, staff and board members. I am running for re-election to help push us forward even further."

Nicole Roth, 43, is a stay-at-home mother of two who also is finishing her first four-year term.

"Over the past several years, our district has grown not only in size but in reputation," she said. "We have a great team of staff, administrators and students. Our current board is dedicated to the enrichment of our district and I want to continue our hard work in the future to achieve even more."

They are being challenged by Jen Kanagy, 45, a dialysis nurse who has a child in the district.

She said she wants to push for state-testing reform and she does not support teacher evaluations tied to state test scores.

"Our district is struggling for space to educate our children while state funding is decreasing," she said. "I would help the board move forward with alternatives to the modular (classrooms) that are draining our funds and give our students better options."

Southwest Licking school board

Four candidates were certified to run for two seats on the Southwest Licking school board.

Incumbent David Engel, 71, is a retired school administrator who worked in the school district for 40 years and has served on the Southwest Licking school board for 34 years.

"I am running for another term in the hope that I can help provide the guidance and direction that will complete my vision of stability of Southwest Licking: the planning and funding of new and renovated buildings that will better meet the needs of our students and their education," he said.

The other incumbent, Debra Moore, 46, is director of operations for the Ohio Waiver Network, a nonprofit organization that "supports people who work for individuals with developmental disabilities," she said.

She serves as school board president and is finishing her first term.

"I have a vested interest in this community and our schools because we have three young children in the district," she said. "It's been a pleasure serving for the past four years, getting to know the amazing professionals working for our schools and the outstanding community support. I'd like to continue to foster open communication with our community and capitalize on the talent within our schools to better our district, while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers."

Kandee Snider Engle, 43, works in inside sales for the Arthur N. Ulrich Co.

She said she is running for school board "to help better align the vision of the district with what I believe at the community's values and beliefs."

Engle said she wants to improve communication between board members and parents and she would work "to ensure Southwest Licking has the best, most robust education possible for the tax dollars being spent."

John Vincent, 37, is a teacher who works in Franklin County and has run for school board once before.

Vincent said he is running again because he wants to ensure the board includes the community in important decisions, such as consolidating certain grades in elementary schools, which requires students to have longer bus rides.

He said he also wants to improve communications between the district and the community, which the board started with social-media interaction.

"I applaud their effort in this area and as a board member, I will continue to ensure that the board continues to do this," he said. "All parents, students and community members should be in the know at all times. There should never be any surprise messages coming from the district."

Etna Township

In Etna Township, Trustee Jeff Johnson was certified to run for a third term.

He will be challenged by David Fulmer, a former West Licking fire chief.

Walter Rogers, the township fiscal officer, will run unopposed.