Grandview Heights is poised to see a new face in the mayor's office next year for the first time in well over a decade.
But which one of the two Grandview Heights City Council members on the ballot will replace Mayor Ray DeGraw is up in the air until Nov. 5.
Council president Greta Kearns and councilman Steve Reynolds are vying to replace DeGraw, who decided not to seek a fifth term.
Kearns, 48, is in the second year of her second term on council. She will leave council only if she wins the mayoral race.
Reynolds, 54, is completing his fourth nonconsecutive term on council. He previously served from 2004-13 and was elected again in 2015. He served as council president from 2006-13.
He is not seeking reelection to his council seat.
ThisWeek gave Kearns and Reynolds the chance to answer three questions about their plans for Grandview Heights.
Here are their answers:
What do you see as the top priority facing Grandview Heights and how would you address it as mayor?
Kearns: As we embrace a bright future in Grandview Heights, we must continue modernizing our government capabilities to maintain high-quality services for residents and businesses.
If elected, I will work with council to make continued improvements in these areas and prioritize future spending congruent with our new community and facility plans.
Due to smart growth and sound fiscal management, Grandview is thriving and AAA credit-rated with capacity to fund a substantial facility project without a tax increase.
We have recently adopted a facilities master plan and have recently invested in moving our public works building to McKinley Avenue in Columbus. This was a strategic move to free up space in town for a modern facility supporting our fire, police and administration workers who serve in outdated and cramped conditions. I am excited to define the next facility project and improve our capacity for modern service delivery as our community evolves.
I also strongly support continued investments in improving our aging infrastructure and new investments in technology that will modernize our capacity and improve service delivery.
Finally, maintaining Grandview's reputation for service also includes investments in personnel and succession of key managers who are planning to retire.
Reynolds: Balanced development shares equal importance with fiscal responsibility.
Grandview needs to take a balanced approach to new development and a fiscally responsible approach to addressing its civic facilities.
Our economic development strategy should reflect Grandview's status as central Ohio's premier location. Policies to attract new development and retain existing businesses should take into account the inherent benefits of being located in Grandview.
I will work hard to ensure any new projects are a net gain -- not a net drain -- on the city, the schools, and most importantly, our residents.
Moving forward with plans for building new civic facilities is also key. Too often, we have lost focus of construction budgets and the reality that other needs have yet to be addressed.
I will focus on ensuring new civic facilities meet our community's long-term needs while staying within the bounds of our current and projected financial resources.
Similarly, keeping a closer eye on the city's day-to-day expenditures will provide us with more resources to invest back into the community, thus reducing the need to ask residents for additional funds.
Several city staff members are expected to retire by the end of the year. How would you approach filling those positions and what attributes would you look for in applicants?
Kearns: My priority is to thoughtfully recruit talented professionals with broad skill sets, strong expertise, enthusiasm and passion for serving the public.
In the near term, we must ensure there is no interruption in services for our residents through the transition to a new city administration.
To this end, I have met extensively with the mayor and all current directors regarding the transition and am confident all our retiring managers will assist for a reasonable interim period to ensure a smooth transition, allowing the new team to benefit from their insight and institutional knowledge.
I have also obtained director and staff input regarding areas for potential improvement as well as strategy for staffing new roles that have expanded and, in some cases, become critical to government functioning with the advent of the information age.
Finally, I will prioritize recruiting employees who are capable and competent to handle multifunctional roles and will collaborate across departments. Our city's small size and scale requires employees to be versatile and flexible.
Reynolds: The loss of key personnel over the next few months will also bring a substantial loss of institutional knowledge.
An effort has been made to memorialize procedures and processes in each of the affected departments, although the individuals who are retiring will take with them a tremendous amount of experience and expertise. This loss of institutional knowledge is yet one more reason why we need a mayor who possesses extensive long-term experience with the inner workings of the city.
I am proud to have maintained ongoing interactions with employees in each department throughout my four terms on council. These relationships have been built on mutual trust and respect and will be crucial in filling positions as they become vacant.
Grandview Heights is very fortunate to have a highly skilled and dedicated group of employees in each department. With this in mind, I will first look to fill positions from within. The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated commitment to public service, a solid understanding of what makes Grandview "Grandview," and an awareness of and respect for tradition.
The ideal candidate will also bring forth an energetic attitude as well as a healthy supply of new ideas and innovative approaches.
How should the city effectively manage growth and development, both at Grandview Yard and in more established parts of the city? How would you help drive that approach?
Kearns: Under my leadership, council and the mayor came together to launch a comprehensive community planning process called Growing on Tradition. We engaged residents of different ages living in all our neighborhoods, old and new.
The resulting strategic plan will be my blueprint for managing change, growth and development in our mature, landlocked community.
This plan calls for pursuing economic development aligned with the community's vision, updating zoning regulations and improving transportation and mobility, among other things.
As mayor, I will work with council, staff and residents to implement this community-driven vision as we balance preservation and progress.
Regarding the Grandview Yard partnership, I worked with the school district to increase their share of revenue. Grandview Yard is expected to produce $8 million in income taxes in 2019. The value of Grandview Yard has increased from $45 million to more than $372 million.
Residents worry about their ability to continue living here. Smart, planned development, like Grandview Yard, that expands and diversifies our tax base is part of the answer.
As we welcome new neighbors and our community changes and evolves, we must continue to balance past and future to preserve the unique qualities of Grandview Heights.
Reynolds: I will evaluate new development on the basis of whether it provides a net gain or a net drain and will rigorously reexamine our economic development initiatives to ensure that they are on point.
Growth must be sustainable from an environmental and economic perspective. If we are to truly be a progressive community, we need to encourage senior-friendly housing, seek out affordable-housing opportunities and reduce our reliance on real estate taxes. These goals should all dovetail as part of a balanced economic development strategy.
This means balancing growth and change while preserving the charm and character of our neighborhoods, as well as balancing the importance of attracting new businesses while supporting the needs of long-established ones.
As a longtime Grandview Heights resident and homeowner, I appreciate that much of our city's success is due to our residential neighborhoods. In fact, my mom still lives in the house we moved to 42 years ago.
I want to ensure that she and other seniors, as well as young families and people with fewer economic means, are all able to remain a vibrant part of our community.