Residents of Groveport and Canal Winchester have a lot to think about before they go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Groveport Madison Schools residents may have the biggest decision to make, as the district attempts to pass Issue 7, the renewal of an operating levy that, if approved, will provide the district more than $5 million annually in tax revenue.
During last May's elections, the district failed to pass Issue 5, a combined levy and bond issue composed of a 6.1-mill continuing levy and a 37-year, $83.6 million bond issue meant to fund the construction of three new elementary schools and one middle school.
Issue 7 is the renewal of an operating levy that was last renewed in November 2015. The 6.68-mill levy would fund operating costs within the district and allow Groveport Madison Schools to collect $5.6 million in tax revenue each year.
Unlike Issue 5, it would not increase taxes for constituents.
Supporting the district in its push to pass Issue 7 is the Committee Supporting Groveport Madison Schools, which has launched a multifaceted campaign employing everything from signs to social-media pushes.
"Our committee is in place to help any way we can to support, promote and get the word out about any and all levy or bond issues that Groveport Madison Schools have on the ballot," said Todd Gray, a committee member who also serves as a district technology coordinator for Groveport Madison Schools.
Gray said the committee thus far has mailed levy information to nearly 16,000 voters, handed out more than 420 yard signs, published testimonials in support of the levy from city officials and high school athletes on social media, distributed gift baskets to local businesses and handed out Issue 7 literature at several local gatherings, including football games, school events and Apple Butter Days.
One of the most promising signs for Issue 7, Gray said, is the diminished opposition he has felt toward the levy compared to that of Issue 5.
"We definitely did have an opposition in place against Issue 5 that had quite a few people behind it," Gray said. "The people we knew who were in charge of that are now supporters of Issue 7."
Wayne Bryan, a candidate for Groveport Madison school board and a vocal critic of Issue 5, has come out in favor of Issue 7.
"It's very important that Issue 7 passes; otherwise, cuts will be made to programs that are needed for the kids," he said.
Bryan is one of four candidates vying for two open seats in this year's election. Longtime board member Mary Tedrow isn't seeking reelection, making Chris Snyder the only incumbent on the ballot.
Snyder, 41, is a U.S. Army veteran who works as the IT manager for the Americans for Veeam Software Co. He is completing his first term on the board while serving as its president. Snyder said he is most concerned with continuing the academic progress the district has seen during his time on the board.
Seth Bower, 34, is the regional aquatics director for the YMCA of Central Ohio. He said he believes overcrowding and insufficient facilities are major problems the district faces, and plans to prioritize a long-term solution if elected.
Bryan, 53, is a former maintenance and construction worker. He has been critical of what he deems wasteful spending by the district, and said he believes board members must work to earn back the trust of the taxpayers.
Also on the ballot is Kathleen Walsh, who did not respond to requests for comment.
Canal Winchester schools
In Canal Winchester Local Schools, after tumultuous ballot switchups, board incumbents are set to run unopposed.
On the ballot are board president Kevin Butler, who is completing his first term, and vice president Matt Krueger, who is finishing his second consecutive term.
On Aug. 16, the Franklin County Board of Elections initially did not recommend Krueger for certification, due to the fact that only 24 of the required 25 signatures on his petition were found to be valid.
It appeared the race would see only one candidate in a race for two open seats. This, Butler said, could have resulted in the board appointing a new member at the beginning of next year.
Instead, Robert Stedman chose to step in as a write-in candidate. Stedman said his decision came from a desire to see the district's voters, not the board itself, select its next member.
But the board of elections reversed its decision on appeal after Krueger provided affidavits for the signatures in question at a Sept. 9 meeting, and Stedman withdrew from the race Sept. 13.
Butler, 28, has worked as a special-education teacher for Whitehall City Schools for 12 years. He believes this educational experience, alongside the fact that he has two children enrolled in the district, make him a uniquely qualified candidate.
Butler said he thinks managing steady growth and strategically for the district's future are the most important issues currently facing Canal Winchester Schools.
Likewise, Krueger, 49, who works in sales at the Worth Ave. Group, said he believes his substantial board experience is invaluable. Krueger has served on the board for the better part of a decade and said he believes he can build off the continuity and momentum.
Krueger also said he believes the district must work to offer the appropriate resources to students dealing with issues of mental health, behavioral health and poor social skills.
Canal Winchester and Groveport voters also will select mayors and members of City Council next week.
Canal Winchester Mayor Mike Ebert, who is seeking a fourth four-year term, faces two challengers in council president Bruce Jarvis and Doug Snyder.
Ebert, 68, of Old Coach Place, was first elected in 2008.
Jarvis, 59, of East Waterloo Street, is a retired information-technology manager with the U.S. Department of Defense and has been a member of Canal Winchester City Council since 2016. He also served on council from 1996 to 2009.
Snyder, 48, of Walnut Drive, works in logistics management and has led the Community Week fundraiser to help the local food pantry.
Longtime Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp faces a challenge from Madison Township board of trustees chairman John Pritchard.
Westcamp, 62, of Green Avenue, has served as mayor since 1994 and is seeking reelection to another four-year term.
He is a 1975 graduate of Groveport Madison High School and is a program administrator for the state.
Pritchard, 49, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. The practicing attorney has been a Madison Township trustee since 2017. He also served as a trustee from 2000 to 2003 before resigning to join the military. His decorated military service includes the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps.
-- Scott Gerfen
City Council races
Five candidates are vying for three seats on Canal Winchester City Council.
Incumbents Bob Clark and Mike Walker are being challenged by Scott Conner, Chuck Milliken and Randy Stemen.
Incumbent Bruce Jarvis is not seeking reelection as he hopes to win the mayor's post, running against Ebert.
Clark, 56, who is retired, is a member of the Canal Winchester Labor Day Festival Committee and an at-large member of Destination: Canal Winchester, the city's travel and tourism program.
Conner, 40, is an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and member of the Canal Cove Homeowners Association.
Milliken, 36, is a mail carrier who is an active member and intern at C3 Church in Pickerington and recently launched a men's ministry.
Walker, 63, is the vice president of City Council. He has been employed by Columbia Gas of Ohio for 45 years and owns Master Mix DJ PhotoBooth.
Stemen did not respond to requests for information about his campaign.
Two incumbents are among the three candidates running for two seats on Groveport City Council.
The candidates are incumbents Shawn Cleary and Jean Ann Hilbert; they're being challenged by Jack Rupp Jr.
Cleary, 60, who is council's president and leads the Groveport Cemetery Committee, has been employed by American Electric Power for 40 years. He also spent 24 years as a part-time Groveport police officer.
Hilbert, 73, is a retired public school teacher.
Rupp Jr., 68, is an assistant chief with the Plain Township Fire Department. He serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee for Columbus and Franklin County and is the South Central District director for the Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association.
-- Scott Gerfen
Two candidates have their eyes on a single available seat on the Madison Township board of trustees.
Incumbent John Kershner is a lifelong resident of Madison Township and graduate of Groveport Madison High School and the Ohio Institute of Photography and Technology. He is seeking a second four-year term.
Kershner also has served on the Groveport Madison Schools board and is past president of the Canal Winchester-Groveport Area Rotary Club.
He is second vice commander of the Groveport American Legion.
Michele Reynolds is the director of the Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
She is a member of Common Ground Destiny Center Church, Jo Ann Davidson Ohio Leadership Institute, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., ServeOhio Commission, Ohio Commission on Fatherhood, Columbus Realtors, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice and Asian-American Commerce Group.
-- Scott Gerfen
Voters also will consider a countywide levy: a 3.1-mill, 10-year renewal levy for Franklin County Children Services that has been designated as Issue 10 by the board of elections.
The 3.1-mill renewal levy is expected to generate more than $85.6 million annually, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The levy will cost homeowners about $84.50 per $100,000 in property valuation, and it is collecting at an effective rate of 2.76 mills, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office.
Early in-person and absentee voting began Oct. 8. Go to ThisWeekNEWS.com/Elections for candidates and issues coverage and go to ThisWeekNews.com for Election Night Live results and recaps Tuesday night, Nov. 5.