The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News invited local candidates to fill out the following questionnaire to inform readers.
VOTE FOR 3:
Leah E. McCullough
John E. Palcher
Education: Bachelor’s of science in Business Administration with minor in accounting from Pittsburg State University
Current Employment: City of Centerville Council member
Community Involvement: Three years on Centerville City Planning Commission, Centerville Charter Review Commission, Member of Centerville/Kettering Kiwanis and Incarnation Church, U.S. Army veteran
Why are you seeking elected office? I love everything about Centerville and serving the citizens of Centerville is one of the great joys in my life. I served on the City Planning Commission for three years, and I’m running for reelection to a third term on Centerville City Council because I want to continue to work with my colleagues to build a bright future of progress and stability for our city.
Why should voters elect you? I think people should vote to reelect me, as well as my experienced colleagues JoAnne Rau and Bill Serr, because we have worked together to successfully create a more customer friendly culture in the city government and have made Centerville a more attractive city for investment and job creation.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? My top three priorities would be: 1. The continued development of the Uptown 2. Continuing to build on the city’s customer friendly culture 3. Making infrastructure improvements, especially as it pertains to the city’s waterflow process.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? In regards to the Uptown, I believe the city must focus its resources on improving traffic flow for motorists and ensuring the safety of pedestrians. We want the area to be drivable for through-traffic, and we want the area to be walkable so families can go Uptown to enjoy a night out at the restaurants, shops and boutiques. My plan for building on the city’s customer friendly culture is to continue to implement and upgrade our five-year strategic plan that has customer service and citizen satisfaction as its primary focus. Our excellent staff and city council strive for continuous improvement and honest measurement of our performance. Holding ourselves to account on our performance measurements is crucial. To improve our infrastructure, I believe we need to evaluate storm water abatement projects, including swells, culverts, retention ponds, pumps and dams; consider new drainage projects for parking lots and sewers; and improve street curbing in our neighborhoods. I’d also like to assess upgrading our storm water management software.
Anything else? I have always strived to leave our city in good financial shape at the end of each fiscal year, and I believe it’s critical to leave retained earnings to start each new fiscal year on strong financial footing. I enjoy working with our talented city staff and my colleagues on city council and very much hope I will be entrusted with seeing through our strategic plan.
JoAnne C. Rau
Education: B.S. mechanical engineering from Ohio State University, M.S. from University of Cincinnati
Current Employment: Retired from DP&L/AES
Why are you seeking elected office? On Centerville City Council for eight years, including two years as deputy mayor. Prior to council, I was on the Centerville Planning Commission and Board of Architectural Review. As a member of city council, I have chaired the Miami Valley Communications Council and currently chair the Centerville Community Improvement Corporation. I’m a member of P.E.O., Centerville Women’s Civic Club and Centerville Noon Optimist Club. I also volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
Why are you seeking elected office? Centerville has been blessed with tremendous success since its beginnings of a village. That isn’t accidental – it is due to the vision and decisions made by our predecessors – both our leaders and our citizens. During the near eight years I have been on council, there have been significant changes that will ensure that our city of close to 25,000 residents prospers for years to come. These changes are those that you see – such as the Cornerstone development and those you don’t see – such as the development of a five-year strategic plan and a complete overhaul of our antiquated IT systems. The Centerville Place and Uptown Plans have generated enormous interest in our city and larger community – from new residents, private businesses and investors. I would like to be reelected so that I can continue to shepherd these and new projects, ensure that the strategic plan is kept current, and build on the momentum of our Uptown Plan.
Why should voters elect you? Experience means something. When I first ran for city council, I had already served the city on the Planning Commission and BAR. While not necessary – knowing how municipalities work – including budgeting and finance, city ordinances, municipal regulations and even Roberts Rules for meetings is tremendously advantageous. My work experience as the environmental manager for DP&L/AES provides insight that benefits my ability to make sound, rational and forward-thinking decisions for the city, committee assignments and roles on other public bodies. My experience on city council has allowed me to work with leaders from other communities and agencies, leveraging the additional knowledge and experience gained as well as resources to benefit our community.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Ensure that Centerville’s first five-year strategic plan is updated and new goals are established as existing goals are accomplished. 2. Build on the momentum of the Uptown Plan by budgeting, planning and completing city infrastructure improvements, as well as continuing to engage residents, businesses and consultants to ensure the success of the plan. 3. Keep Centerville neighborhoods and business areas attractive, vibrant and desirable.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? 1. To ensure that the five-year strategic plan is updated, council will need to establish this as a goal for the city manager for 2022/2023. I would shepherd this goal through council. 2. Council reviews and approves the five-year budget every year. I would ensure that projects for city-funded infrastructure are included in the budgets. As the Uptown Plans mature and are further refined, I will ensure that there are additional venues (open houses, meetings, etc.) for engagement with residents and businesses before council takes any actions. 3. I will stay abreast of innovative ideas and opportunities to invest in our older neighborhoods and business areas that I can discuss with the city manager and council. I will also advocate for continued infrastructure investment in our community.
Anything else? A couple things about me. I’m pragmatic. In general, I support reasonable ordinances and initiatives that benefit the community – the residents as well as the businesses we depend on. Also, I do my homework, review the facts and take a common sense approach to an issue. Centerville is a fabulous place to live. It is my community, where we raised our family. We need to maintain its unique character while embracing the changes that will come with new generations. I ask for your vote.
Education: B.A. and J.D. cum laude, Ohio State University; Executive Education in Strategic Nonprofit Management, Harvard Business School and Stanford University Graduate School of Business
Current Employment: Retired CEO and president emeritus, Graceworks Lutheran Services, including Bethany Village; licensed attorney since 1975, former partner, Smith & Schnacke law firm
Community Involvement: Vice president, Centerville Community Improvement Corporation; Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission; chair, First Suburbs Consortium of Dayton; secretary, Steering Committee for MVRPC Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities; member, Rotary Club of Dayton; member and past congregational president, Epiphany Lutheran Church; past board of directors and secretary, Dayton Council on World Affairs; past board of trustees, Dayton Opera Association
Why are you seeking elected office? I am seeking elected office to continue the work that I have already begun in my first six years of service as a Centerville city councilmember. When I joined the city council in 2016, the city of Centerville was experiencing a negative reputation among citizens, businesses and developers for lack of customer friendly service. The negative culture had created a significant barrier for economic development. Additionally, the city operated in a reactive mode without a clear sense of strategic direction. As a councilmember, I have actively participated in development and implementation of a far reaching strategic plan that has already improved customer service orientation and yielded success in economic development. Many of the strategic goals require longer implementation times, including the Uptown master plan, improvements to Stubbs Park, and development of Cornerstone Park. I have served on the Uptown Steering Committee from the beginning and want to remain involved in the execution of the plan. I believe that my experience in developing the 100-acre Bethany Village campus over a period of decades is unique and can contribute to the overall success of the Uptown revitalization. I also want to be active in the implementation of the strategic goal to enhance the quality and character of the city’s residential neighborhoods, which is only in the early preparation stages. I played a vital role in the creation of the city’s first ever strategic plan, and I want to be reelected so that I can see its implementation to completion.
Why should voters elect you? I am experienced and have earned the trust of Centerville voters. I work well in a collaborative environment with other council members, city staff, and citizens. When I joined the council six years ago I brought with me the knowledge gained through serving 24 years as the chief executive of Graceworks Lutheran Services, a large organization with over 1,200 employees, more than 1,600 residents at approximately 50 locations (including Bethany Village in Centerville), and a budget almost three times that of the city of Centerville. I experienced success in providing essential services to large groups of consumers and meeting customer service expectations. I necessarily developed skills to balance competing interests when differences arise. I successfully managed large capital projects from the master planning stage to completion of over $100 million cumulatively of construction. My background as an attorney and undergraduate studies in political science has provided an understanding of how government works and a framework for merging my skills with the needs of the city council. I am a visionary leader with proficiency in strategic planning and good process orientation to accomplish big picture goals. I am a logical thinker with a strong belief system in distinguishing right from wrong. Above all, I have a passion for community service and great love for the city of Centerville where I have lived, worked, and raised a family.
If elected, what will be your top three priorities? 1. Support implementation of the Uptown Master Plan. 2. Enhance quality of life for all residents by supporting high quality city services and road improvements, refreshing our neighborhoods, and working on a regional basis to create more livable and equitable communities. 3. Support advancement in acquiring technology that creates efficiency for staff and enhances performance of the police department, while also providing direct access to city services by citizens.
What specific plans do you have to address those top priorities? It is important to note that under the Charter of the City of Centerville, the role of the city council is limited to providing advice, setting policy and approving expenditures. The council hires the city manager and monitors his performance in engaging and managing staff to appropriately implement authorized plans of the city within the parameters of the approved budget. In a broad sense, my plan to address my priorities is to advocate within existing protocols for their advancement. In a more specific sense, I plan the following. 1. Continue to interact with architects and engineers to advocate for best outcomes in implementation of the Uptown Master Plan. In my role as vice president of the Centerville Community Improvement Corporation, I will continue to support incentives to attract new businesses and retain current businesses with economic incentives to improve properties within the context of the historic district. 2. Support comprehensive housing study and seek creative ways to incent property owners to update and upgrade housing that will appeal to a younger generation of buyers. Continue to work with the Institute on Livable and Equitable Communities to learn and apply best practices that result in availability of housing that meets the varied needs of multiple generations and socioeconomic levels. 3. Assure adequate investment in secure technology to deliver services efficiently and guarantee that the acclaimed Centerville Police Department operates with the latest state of the art technology, including body cameras and communications technology to assure rapid response.
Anything else? As a councilmember, I have devoted significant time to collaboration with other jurisdictions in the region. Since 2016, I have served as Centerville’s delegate to the First Suburbs Consortium of Dayton, a council of governments comprised of elected and appointed officials representing 12 suburban communities in Montgomery County. For the past two years, I have been the elected chair of First Suburbs. In that role, I recently provided leadership for a major Forum on Talent Attraction and Retention with more than 100 community leaders participating. This forum will provide a basis for increased collaboration and focus on talent as a key economic development strategy for the region. I also serve on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, which is the metropolitan planning organization for four Ohio counties and also provides regional and environmental planning support for member communities in seven counties. I was recently appointed to the Steering Committee for the MVRPC’s new Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities and serve as secretary of the committee.