Residents got their first look at the slate of City Council candidates at last week's Meet the Candidates Forum, presented by the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Residents got their first look at the slate of City Council candidates at last week's Meet the Candidates Forum, presented by the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Newcomers Dennis Blair and Timothy Davey shared the stage with incumbents Diane Fosselman, Pete Otteson and Craig Treneff and discussed city issues in a question-and-answer format.

The event was held Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Westerville Public Library.

With equal time to speak and no questions directed at one another, candidates were civil and largely in agreement.

Davey separated himself from the pack, saying the city's biggest issue is its debt.

"The city debt has almost tripled in the last three years," he said. "Council did that without voter approval."

Davey said he would require voter approval for issues that incur more debt for the city.

The other candidates all said economic development and diversity -- to protect the city's tax base -- is the most important issue in the coming years.

Asked what their most important goals would be if elected, each candidate had a different objective.

Davey outlined his major platform of lessening tax breaks for companies and eliminating abatements and tax-increment-financing agreements.

Blair said he hopes to have city departments work more efficiently with one another, and to balance housing options with improving the tax base.

The incumbents largely focused on keeping the status quo. Both Fosselman and Treneff said they want to maintain current service levels, and Otteson said he was "having a hard time trying to find problems."

Candidates stayed consistent during their chance to explain what they would bring to the community.

Blair said the city is "very well run," which he would like to maintain.

Davey said Westerville's government is too big and suggested eliminating the WeConnect Data Center, which is designed to help local businesses by providing such technology as a fiber network and cloud services.

Treneff and Fosselman both said they plan to continue improving the city's relationships with other government entities.

Otteson said he would like to work toward improved senior-housing options.

The only agreement across the board came when candidates were asked when they would consider increasing taxes.

All said they couldn't imagine a tax increase in the near future, and Davey went one step further, saying he hoped to eliminate the need for a fire levy by changing tax structures in the city.