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Published: Wednesday, 10/17/2007

Woodville issue prompts run for office

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A need for better communication between the village and the community is what several newcomers said prompted them to run for office in Woodville this November.

Mayor Richard Harman and Clerk-Treasurer Beth Zajac are each running against one opponent for their seats while there are three challengers and one incumbent looking to fill two council posts.

Mayor Harman, 57, is being challenged by Councilman Joe Riffle for the village's top job.

He's been mayor of the village of nearly 2,000 residents for the past eight years, and 21 years overall. To date, he has never lost an election.

He said he hopes to be re-elected to ensure that a village-wide project will soon find proper funding to begin. The village plans to separate the storm sewers from the sanitary sewers in three phases over the next 10 years.

As for the future, he said he would like to en-courage more police to patrol on foot through the village, continue working to get better electric rates for residents, and see the completion of the Route 20 widening project.

He also plans to continue supporting the community's real estate levy, instead of any income taxes, to "make sure the streets are paved and the infrastructure is in good order to continue progressing the way we have been over the last few years."

Mr. Riffle, 40, has served on council for five years and feels it is time to take the next step, which is why he's running for mayor.

The life-long Woodville resident said he wants to change the perception that the village is a speed trap, and instead focus on the positives.

"It's got good schools and it's a nice place to live," he said. "It's time to make the next step toward making Woodville a happy place to live."

He said he'll be focusing on projects that promote safety, such as the widening of U.S. 20 and the creation of a cul-de-sac near Woodmore Elementary School.

"I have the spirit of Woodville," he said. "I love the community and I think I can do a great job."

Mrs. Zajac, 51, wants to continue in her job as clerk-treasurer, but she's being challenged by newcomer Barbara J. Runion.

"I just enjoy working with the people in Woodville," Mrs. Zajac said.

The former Woodmore school board member is just finishing up her second, four-year term. During her tenure, the bookkeeping began to be recorded on computers, some accounting system procedures were streamlined, and residents were encouraged to stop by the town hall to ask for help with her open-door policy, she said.

Mrs. Runion, 47, is a life-long resident who has never held an elected position before. The Del's grocery store manager said she would like to see some changes in village government, starting with conveying information to residents.

"Communication is a big issue in Woodville, and I want to try to bridge that gap a bit," she said, adding that she would like to start a monthly newsletter to keep residents informed. "There's a lot happening in Woodville."

She said she's ready for the job because, among other qualifications, she serves as treasurer for several organizations, including the Woodville Business Association.

Margaret Linke, 60, has been on council since 2000. She wants to retain her seat, but she has competition from three newcomers - Dennis Scott Fetzer, Judy Karchner, and Bob Hathaway for two seats.

Councilman Amanda Donnell, 25, is not seeking re-election.

Mr. Fetzer, 27, moved into Woodville four years ago because he said it was a growing community that he felt would be a good place to raise a family.

The full-time student said younger families are relocating to nearby communities more often than they are moving to Woodville, even though the village is home to the only elementary school in the Woodmore Local School District.

One solution to help would be to attract more small businesses and put another restaurant in town.

"I have the fresh new ideas from living in Perrysburg," he said. "They have a lot of diverse age groups and are a very successful community, and just living there really got me the experience of knowing really what works and what doesn't."

Mr. Hathaway, 65, has lived in the village since the age of four. Now that he's semi-retired from his job as a self-employed mechanic, he said he has time to donate to political office.

The former volunteer firefighter said he's most interested in the sanitary sewer/storm sewer separation project because he has some experience with them.

"I've been around the village for 60 years," he said. "I know what's been here and what's left and I know the history of the village."

Mrs. Karchner, 51, said she decided that now would be a good time for her to become more politically active because she's passionate about where she's lived for the past 30 years.

"I'm interested in becoming more actively involved," she said. "There's nothing like small towns."

The self-employed dog groomer and business association member said she wants residents to be more informed on what's going on in the village.



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