Two Prairie Township residents are challenging incumbent fiscal officer Dan McCardle, whose term ends March 31.

McCardle, 53, has held the office for more than 11 years and is seeking re-election Nov. 5.

Sherry Henning, 53 and Joseph P. Finn are each seeking the office for the first time.

Henning holds a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master's degree in public administration and has served on the township's community improvement corporation and its board of zoning appeals.

McCardle holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Ohio State University and also serves as chief financial officer for Summit Home Care, a home-health agency.

Finn was unable to be reached.

ThisWeek West Side reached out to the candidates, who were each asked to answer three questions about their run for office. Their written responses, each capped at 200 words, are below.

What is the greatest/challenge need facing the township and, if elected, how would you address it?

Henning: Currently the lack of financial transparency, lack of committed, lack of responsiveness to our community and township employees and financial planning are all weaknesses that need addressed quickly. The township cannot continue to grow with the lack of strong financial information that can be relied upon to make informed decisions. I have already met with most of the leadership positions in Prairie Township and I have a good idea of how to proceed to start to make these changes. Once I am elected and gather the details, I will start working with the highest concerns first and work my way through the issues. It's my turn to help, not only help in the non-profit organizations. I want to provide our community with more financial transparency, more communication to our township employees, residences, businesses; to respond to the needs of the trustees and directors to provide options and necessary information to make better informed decisions to allow our township to flourish. It's time to show up with fiscal responsibility, with being responsive to our community, our township employees, our firefighters, our residents and our trustees. A fiscal officer should, and I will bring more than just numbers to the position.

McCardle: Under the leadership of our trustees, township administration, dedicated township personnel and many local businesses, Prairie Township continues to grow and prosper. The challenge for my office is to ensure that proper accounting safeguards remain in place to protect the township's money and records while minimizing expenses where possible. As a CPA and professional accountant, I have improved the efficiencies of my office and expertly navigated the changes associated with our growth in our township's services, personnel and facilities over the past 11-plus years. With your vote, I will continue to do so another four years. I have "Experience You Can Trust."

How has your professional/personal background prepared you to manage the township's finances?

Henning: Over 20 years of experience working in financial leadership roles in non-profit/government organizations, this has provided not only the technical experience but the passion to help others through finding the financial solutions to better serve our communities. In Columbus, Ohio, I have been fortunate to work in financial leadership roles in two organizations for close to 16 years. In 2003, I joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, (this) non-profit organization is the third largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the United States that provides mentoring programs to children through schools and community services. In 2013, I joined the Ohio History Connection, non-profit organization, (which) is a statewide organization that manages more than 50 historical sites across Ohio. At the Ohio History Connection, we have many funding streams serving a large variety of purposes such as historic preservation, historical sites, state archives, local history, museum services and programs to only name a very few. In both organizations and past organizations, I bring a high level of professional financial leadership to manage efficiently and to maximize our resources to further our mission. Mission goes beyond just recording numbers or debits and credits. I am mission and community driven.

McCardle: I am a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with more than 25 years of progressive public and corporate accounting experience, many years of voluntary service for local charities, and served the past 11-plus years in government accounting as our current township fiscal officer. I have years of experience in managing all aspects of accounting and financial reporting (both corporate and governmental), as well as experience working with management and staff to identify operating inefficiencies, reduce costs, and implement new procedures to improve operations. Over the past 11-plus years, this experience has guided me to expertly manage the accounting changes associated with the impact of our township's growth in personnel, facilities and services.

If elected, how would you change the office of fiscal officer?

Henning: One change that will take effect immediately is being fiscal responsible. Imagine a firefighter working hard for the community, township, families and business. Firefighters tend to work a lot of different shifts and long hours. They can be called to a fire or neighboring township firefighters needs at a moment's notice. Now imagine if you opened your paycheck to find that something was really wrong and you had no notice or knowledge of what was going on. Often the firefighter is living paycheck to paycheck as many of us do. Unfortunately, this didn't happen to one, but to all township employees. The lack of oversight by the fiscal officer resulted in the townships pay being paid incorrectly. In addition, once it was discovered to be a big problem the fiscal officer did not quickly communicate the problem or how it was going to be resolved for the township employees. Ultimately this was resolved but at what price are we willing to continue to pay for this lack of oversight and lack of fiscal responsibility. We cant afford four more years. Our residences, businesses, trustees and employees all deserve to have a strong financial leader who truly cares for our community.

McCardle: As the current fiscal officer for the past 11-plus years, I have always taken 100% ownership of my work and the role of my department. I understand the significance of both the small details and the big picture of the fiscal officer's responsibilities. We have been reporting to Ohio's Online Checkbook since 2013 and we post a payment listing of expenditures to our Prairie Township website monthly. The standard bi-annual financial audits of our township have consistently received unqualified opinions during my 11-plus years' tenure -- the gold standard of approval by auditing firms. I will continue to ensure that our township's accounting and financial reporting practices and procedures evolve to accommodate the ongoing growth of our township.

In addition to the fiscal officer, Prairie Township voters will also see a 3.1-mill renewal levy for Franklin County Children Services, township trustee and school board races on their ballot.

Early in-person and absentee voting began Oct. 8.

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