Blendon Township trustee James Welch will look to keep the seat he's held since June 2010 in the Nov. 8 election.

Blendon Township trustee James Welch will look to keep the seat he’s held since June 2010 in the Nov. 8 election.

Welch is being challenged by Liz Ward, wife of former trustee Jerry Ward.

Liz Ward

Ward, an administrator for the Women’s Ministry at the Vineyard Church of Columbus, has lived in Blendon Township for 40 years.

She said she was a member of the Huber Ridge Area Association for several years and participated in the clean up of neighborhood parks, the Silver Celebration and Halloween parties.

She also has volunteered at a local food pantry and with various Christmas outreaches, as well as with Single Parent Fairs and Serve Columbus. She has participated in Honor Flight and Blendon Township’s Memorial Day services.

Ward has never run for public office but said she was motivated to seek the seat formerly held by her husband because she long supported him in that role and wanted to continue to serve Blendon Township’s residents.

Jerry Ward was a trustee for 26 years until his death in May 2010.

“We worked together as a team. I totally supported his dedication and commitment to this community and was involved in many community activities over the years,” Ward said. “Over the years, I have maintained a close relationship with the township administration, and at the encouragement of several township employees, friends and neighbors, I made the decision to run for trustee.”

Ward said she feels well-qualified to serve as trustee because she learned the ins and outs of township government and the issues that face the township from her husband.

She said she also has experience dealing with the public, working with vendors and service providers, providing customer service and problem-solving, all of which she said would help her serve as trustee.

Ward said she knows continual water rate increases have been one of the biggest problems facing the township, and with Ohio American Water requesting another rate increase, she said, she would work to find a solution to the problem.

“I will continue to support the fight against water rate increases by Ohio American Water. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing problem for decades, and to date, a solution has not yet been found,” Ward said. “As trustee, I will work with the water company representatives, our state representatives, other civic groups and residents to explore alternative solutions to these continued rate increases. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.”

Other issues Ward said she would address as trustee are complaints from residents about the township’s trash company and the decline in property values.

“We must stop the decline in our property values by enforcing code on residential properties,” Ward said. “There are county zoning regulations and township codes in place to address concerns regarding properties that are being neglected. I will work closely with Blendon Township’s code enforcement officer and the property owners to achieve an improved appearance of properties in our community.”

Other concerns expressed by Ward include the condition of some township roads and sidewalks, requests from residents for increased police presence and decreases in revenues.

James Welch

Welch, an automotive technician, has lived in Blendon Township for 11 years.

He has served as the president of the Huber Ridge Area Association for the past seven years and is co-founder and co-chairman of Fight the Hike Ohio, an organization that works to oppose water rate increases from Ohio American Water.

Welch was chosen by a Franklin County probate judge to fill the trustee seat left open by the death of Jerry Ward. He was sworn into office on June 28, 2010.

Welch said he sees serving as trustee as an opportunity to better the community.

“As Blendon Township trustee, I have found that I have even greater opportunities to work for the residents of Blendon Township,” Welch said. “My leadership, work ethic and experiences for the last seven years have built many strong and lasting relationships that will enable me to meet and exceed the challenges that the township will soon be facing. “

Welch said he’s developed good experience working as trustee over the last 15 months and, in that time, has helped develop the Blendon Township Master Parks Plan, establish a more profitable method of disposing of township property, complete the mausoleum and chapel in Blendon Central Cemetery, secure alternative funds to improve the parks and infrastructure throughout the township and implement a community garden and farmers market with grant funds.

Welch said he also has developed relationships with other government leaders and businesses in Ohio that he believes will help the township continue to move in a positive direction.

As trustee, Welch said he’s ready to once again help residents work against another rate increase from Ohio American Water.

“I will continue to do what I have done in the past: Encouraging a letter-writing campaign and organizing a public forum where residents can offer testimony about the water rate increase request,” Welch said. “I will also follow closely the proposed purchase of Ohio American Water Co. by Aqua Ohio, and I have already scheduled a meeting with the president of Aqua Ohio to discuss past and future issues affecting Blendon Township residents.

“I plan to work with our state officials to explore alternative options regarding our water and sewer supply,” he said.

Welch said he also sees decreasing revenues as a challenge for the township, and he said he believes he has the experience to help deal with that.

“Blendon Township will face some difficult decisions in the near future, based on our decreasing revenues,” he said. “My experience and knowledge of the township government will be essential.”

As trustee, Welch said he would be open to continuing to listen to and address residents’ concerns about refuse collection, utility rates, road repairs, property maintenance code enforcement and any other issues.