Democrat Angie Jenkins is challenging Republican incumbent Doug Joseph for Reynoldsburg City Council president.
Voters on Nov. 5 will choose the president and four seats on council, each representing one of the city's four wards. The four-year terms commence Jan. 1.
Joseph, 52, was first elected president of council in 2011 and was reelected in 2015. He previously served as the Ward 3 council representative and is owner and president of Liberty Strategies.
Jenkins, 62, is a 19-year city resident who retired from the Ohio Attorney General's Office last year.
According to Reynoldsburg's charter, the president of council "shall be the presiding officer of the Council but shall vote on any matter before the Council only in the event of a tie vote among the members of the Council."
The council president also serves as acting mayor in the event the mayor is out of town or unavailable.
ThisWeek Reynoldsburg News reached out to the candidates, who were asked to answer three questions about their run for office.
Written responses provided by the candidate, each capped at 200 words, are below:
What is the greatest challenge/need facing the city and, if elected, how would you address it?
Joseph: Crime prevention -- For 14 years (more than six years as a Ward 3 councilman and almost eight years as the president of council), I've worked to ensure the Reynoldsburg Division of Police has the manpower and equipment to keep city streets safe. I have a good working relationship with our chief of police and deputy chief and get briefed frequently on police and crime control matters. I was also an early proponent of equipping police officers with body cameras to protect the rights and actions of citizens and police. I have been and will continue to be a strong proponent for our police department and support giving them the training and equipment they need to keep Reynoldsburg safe.
Development/redevelopment -- Redevelopment of older neighborhoods and the city's central core are essential to keep Reynoldsburg a place that people want to live, work and raise a family. I have worked closely with Reynoldsburg's development director to ensure community and neighborhood focused development/redevelopment is implemented in the city. I was also an early backer of Reynoldsburg's Comprehensive Master Plan to ensure the city has a defined "roadmap" to future development/redevelopment.
Jenkins: The greatest challenge is economic growth. Reynoldsburg needs to include new businesses that will provide employment opportunities and increase tax revenue. Encourage new businesses to invest in our city.
If elected, which city services/departments would you like to see expanded or changed and why?
Joseph: With a new mayor and city attorney assuming office in January, major changes to city operations are a certainty. As the president of council, I will sit down with both new officeholders and discuss what their priorities are and to inquire on how and what council can do to help them make city government more efficient, more responsive, more transparent and more service oriented for our city residents. And since council will have at least two new members (and possibly as many as five), I will encourage them as well to talk one-on-one with the new mayor and city attorney and discuss those priorities. Lastly, I will encourage city residents (as I do now) to weigh in on any new proposals or reforms proposed in city government. Citizen involvement in the operations of local government is always an asset that needs to be utilized.
Jenkins: I will improve our Economic Development Department and capitalize on vacant commercial buildings Once we increase our revenue, we can improve safety, enforce codes and add family entertainment.
What in your personal background/professional experience will help you preside over council and help guide its decision-making process?
Joseph: Experience clearly counts. With the mayor and city attorney both retiring, I, as president of council, will be one of the few elected officials left in the city with long-term institutional knowledge of city operations and critical understanding of department functions. Plus, heavy turnover on council this year mandates that the president of council have the knowledge, understanding and experience, both in legislative and executive affairs, needed to ensure all new and returning members of council have the established support system they need to serve their wards or the city at-large. My experience includes almost eight years as president of council, over six years as the Ward 3 councilman, being past chairman of council's Safety, Service and Finance Committees, past President Pro-Tempore of council for two years, acting mayor of Reynoldsburg (when required per Reynoldsburg's city charter) and past city representative to the West Licking Joint Fire District (where I served both as vice-president and president). Lastly, I served as a member of the Reynoldsburg chief of police selection committee in both 2012 and 2018.
Jenkins: I have a bachelor's degree, 15 years of state government experience which includes working with fiscal budgets and policy. I have experience working with million-dollar grants and contracts.
In addition to the city council races, Reynoldsburg voters will also weigh in on the next mayor and city attorney, the board of education and a 3.1-mill renewal levy for Franklin County Children Services. Truro Township residents also will vote on two trustee seats and the fiscal officer, who is running unopposed.