Peggy Guzzo ended her term as a Liberty Township trustee on Dec. 21.

Peggy Guzzo ended her term as a Liberty Township trustee on Dec. 21.

Guzzo lost her bid for re-election in November. She had served one four-year term.

During 2008 and 2009, she frequently argued with and was criticized by fellow trustees Robert Mann and Curt Sybert. They said she acted in opposition to majority decisions and positions of the three-person board.

In particular, they pointed to Guzzo's role in a Powell citizen-led initiative petition that sought to limit the size of commercial buildings along Sawmill Parkway. Among other things, Guzzo paid $420 in personal funds for attorney fees for work performed on the initiative.

Powell's city government then alleged that Guzzo's actions put the township in breach of the economic development agreement (CEDA) between the two entities. Under terms of the CEDA, that led to mediation between the city and township.

Guzzo has said mediation was not needed because a breach of the CEDA did not occur. Because Powell is part of Liberty Township, Guzzo said, she was helping her constituents.

Mann and Sybert also said no CEDA breach occurred. They did contend, however, that Guzzo was responsible for paying the thousands of dollars that mediation cost the township. So did township fiscal officer Mark Gerber.

In January 2009, Mann and Sybert requested that Guzzo pay the attorney fees caused by the mediation. The township's Web site shows the mediation cost the township $35,416 in legal fees to date.

Guzzo refused to pay, saying that the township should not have used an attorney to mediate the issue. It should have been done during public meetings with Powell officials, she said.

In May 2009, Mann and Sybert asked Delaware County prosecutor David Yost's office to collect those costs from Guzzo.

That request followed a letter from the prosecutor's office saying, "Based on the facts as they now appear and as they are understood by this office, ... it seems the township has a reasonably justifiable claim against trustee Guzzo for her personal repayment of such legal fees."

Guzzo said those actions were political and worked against her re-election campaign.

"I think in the end the relentless defamation attacks, the willful misinformation and the political abuse of office by my colleagues and Dave Yost's prosecutor's office proved to be impossible to overcome," Guzzo wrote in an e-mail.

On Dec. 20, ThisWeek asked the prosecutor's office for the status of the collecting the fees from Guzzo. Traci Whittaker of Yost's office wrote in an e-mail, "There is no case filed at this point in time, therefore there is no case status roster."

Guzzo counts among her most defining moments as a trustee the help she gave Powell residents with the initiative petition.

"Helping the citizens of Powell with the initiative petition was a defining moment for me," Guzzo wrote. "That experience of witnessing the citizens' right to democracy ... being stolen by local government (when Powell adopted the petition and later repealed it) inspired me to go to law school. It is my goal to level the playing field and hold government accountable and do my small part of returning government back to the people."

Guzzo said she also values having helped citizens fight the proposed construction of a Walmart proposed in Liberty and a Target store proposed in Powell.

She also said she helped Powell's efforts to develop a bicycle path and beautification plans and identify and begin "the transition from a very antiquated, inefficient government operation to a more professional and accountable one."

She hopes future trustees will "work toward being one community; be more efficient with tax dollars, stop using unnecessary outside legal counsel, conduct government business in the open and ... create a finance committee to help with ... effective short and long term planning."

Guzzo said she will miss "giving the citizens a voice and being their servant."