Nine candidates are running for four open seats on the Lebanon City Council, and they want to make changes while improving the city’s infrastructure and managing growth.
This year’s race features seven newcomers, one incumbent in Michael Cope, and one former council member in Jim Norris, who are seeking election to four-year terms on council.
Incumbent Councilman Michael Cope, who was appointed to his seat in late June, said he’s “running in order to continue serving the residents of Lebanon with decisions guided by socially and fiscally conservative, liberty minded, and small government principles.”
Cope, 55, has lived in Lebanon for the past 13 years after living 14 years just outside the city limits. He is employed as a facilities and project maintenance director for a non-profit senior living organization. Cope and his wife have four children.
Cope said his 30-years of professional experience uniquely qualifies him to guide the city through difficult upcoming financial decisions and growth pressures; and he’s a social and fiscal conservative.
His top three priorities will be to manage the growth pressures the city is facing without negatively impacting the character and charm of the city; to maintain or increase road and infrastructure development; and to ensure the city maintains or grows essential government services with the proper resources and without going into unnecessary or unsustainable debt.
Brian Hawley is a lifelong resident of Lebanon and is currently employed as a deputy clerk with the Warren County Clerk of Courts Office.
Hawley, 39, said he is running for a council seat because he has loved and supported Lebanon his entire life. He said while working for the city’s Public Works Department during college breaks, he really learned about serving the community. “I’d like to do that again, but in a different capacity,” he said.
Hawley said the three most important issues facing the city are: Making sure Lebanon’s Public Service and Safety Departments are capable of handling the growth, traffic issues and parks/family entertainment options.
“I will listen to the citizens, business owners and other people the frequent the city of Lebanon and let their concerns dictate what topics need attention,” Hawley said. “I have no personal agenda.”
Hawley, who is single, was a Kettering police officer before joining the clerk of courts office, and is a community volunteer.
Brad Lamoreaux said he is running for a council seat because “Lebanon is a great place to live, work, worship and raise a family. Lebanon has great momentum, and I want to use my business experience, gifts, talents, etc. to help continue this.”
Lamoreaux, 50, has lived in Lebanon for 11 years. He is a small business owner. He and his wife are the parents of four children.
As for top issues facing the city, Lamoreaux cited infrastructure and growth – helping to maintain the growth of Lebanon but still keep its small town feel; helping to make decisions to protect Lebanon’s character by being pro-life, family and business friendly; and workforce development and job staffing by working with the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and local businesses.
Lamoreaux said he wants to keep the cost of doing business as low as possible by maintaining healthy relationships with the Lebanon school district and the Warren County Career Center.
Alecia Lipton said she is running to bring transparency and professionalism back to council.
Lipton, 52, has been a Lebanon resident for 16 years, and is employed as the director of public relations for Hoxworth Blood Center. She and her husband are the parents of seven grown children.
She said the three most important issues facing the city are equality, governance, and preservation.
Lipton wants to work to “eradicate the perception of inequality and prejudices by forming a Human Rights Commission that will be made up of citizens and city leaders.” She also wants council to operate in a transparent, professional manner and citizens will be listened to and not chastised or demeaned for asking questions or proposing ideas.
She said council decisions should follow the guidelines of the city charter and not be dictated by religious beliefs. Lipton said council needs to listen to, respect and serve all citizens – not only the ones that voted for the elected official.
Bri Marcum said she is running for a seat on Lebanon City Council because the city needs confident, cooperative and responsible leaders to address resident concerns and take action without burdening our taxpayers.
She wants to bring her professional skill set and community service background to bring a unique perspective to city council.
Marcum, 36, is an IT contractor and has lived in Lebanon for eight years. She and her husband have a 12-year-old daughter.
She has managed large-scale budgets, working within tight deadlines and collaborating with different personality types to resolve issues.
Marcum said other issues facing the city include irresponsible spending and unnecessary measures that have greatly impacted the city.
“I will follow the city charter, only spend taxpayer money on affordable outcomes for the good of all Lebanon and will not be influenced by special interest groups,” she said. “Our resident’s concerns need to not only be addressed but actions need to be taken to ensure Lebanon is a place for everyone to thrive regardless of race, abilities, sexual orientation or income level.”
Leslie Nahigyan said she’s running for a Lebanon council seat out of increasing concern for how current city council members engage with the community and make decisions, adding that “the light shined on our city the past year has not been positive.”
Nahigyan, 54, has lived in Lebanon for 17 years. A nurse for 25 years, Nahigyan is single and shares her home with her two dogs.
“The business of the city has been hijacked by council members’ special interests, resulting in lawsuits and reputational damage to Lebanon,” she said. “Council failed to listen to community members to approve a human relations commission. We’ve heard one council member describe his constituents only as those who voted for him. We’ve had another pledge to uphold a conservative, Christian agenda. What happened to focusing on roads, development, planning?”
Nahigyan said she has experience in the healthcare field with strategic planning, operating and planning budgets, project management, human resources, and facility consideration.
“The city has been the focus of lawsuits, wasting time and taxpayer dollars,” Nahigyan said. “Current council members, however well-meaning or liked, do not represent Lebanon as a whole. City Council needs CPR (Communication, Practicality, and Representation, Reputation and Responsibility).”
James Norris, a former councilman, said his love of leadership and the desire to preserve the 200-plus year history and atmosphere of Lebanon is why he is running for council again.
Norris has lived in Lebanon since 1957, and is a retired teacher. He previously served four terms on council from 2001 to 2017 and is involved in a number of community organizations.
“I represent an entirely different approach to the basis for arriving at city priorities than the current council majority and their supporters running this year,” he said.
Norris, who described himself as a moderate and independent of outside influences, said he wants council to balance its time on the needs of the city. He said city needs as defined by its charter, safety, infrastructure, and promotion of city businesses, should be solely addressed. Norris also said council needs to increase time and attention on the prospects of housing growth in the neighboring townships.
“Four votes will be needed to change the direction of current Council judgement,” Norris said. “I am vested in achieving that starting with my candidacy. Addressing explosive growth potential in the neighboring townships will be addressed by aggressively pursuing communication with all affected authorities.”
Scott Norris said he’s running for a Lebanon council seat because he’s at a point in his life where he feels he would have time to devote to the job.
“I have wanted to run for many years but did not feel I had the time needed to be meaningful participant,” Norris said. “I have enjoyed watching and being a part of the success of Lebanon and feel current management is on the right track. I want to be a part of that.”
Norris, 61, has lived in Lebanon for 44 years and has worked as a mental health clinician and a contractor. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters.
“I learned the importance of collaboration and a listening ear,” he said. “I developed problem solving skills to work toward the success of a program and not bogged down by what didn’t work in the past.”
Norris, who is passionate about Lebanon’s history, said the three most important issues facing the city are balanced growth; ensuring city services can match community growth; and collaboration with the Lebanon school district as growth occurs. As the city grows, he said safety and public utility services need to be provided equally.
Matt Sellers said he’s running for a council seat to secure and protect the citizens of Lebanon constitutional rights and individual liberty.
Sellers, 33, has lived in Lebanon twice for a total of 20 years and is a small business owner. He and his wife have one son.
Sellers said the three most important issues facing the city includes the future of local government; city growth; and federal overreach.
He is concerned about the possibility of transforming the council body from a conservative one to one of state control that would lead to expansion of government, loss of constitutional rights and individual liberty.
“I am addressing this by running for this local office to protect our God-given rights,” Sellers said.
He would also like to balance the tradition of the city with the ever-growing pressures to expand. Sellers would like to address it by encouraging and supporting businesses to develop here in Lebanon by reducing the red tape for development while maintaining the city’s historic traditions.
About the Author
Ed Richter has been a working journalist for 35 years, with the last 30 years working in various capacities covering Butler and Warren counties as a reporter and an editor. An award-winning journalist, Richter covers local news and governments in Middletown, Monroe, Franklin, Carlisle and Franklin Twp.