The four candidates for Perrysburg mayor spoke to residents at a forum last night in hopes of gaining support for the Sept. 13 primary.
Before more than 150 people crowded into the Perrysburg Senior Center, Nelson Evans, Kim Klewer, Thomas Mackin, and Jonathan Orser explained why they wanted to be the city's next mayor.
One questioner asked them to discuss what they consider the biggest challenge facing the city in the next 10 years.
Mr. Orser and Mr. Evans said it was paying for services to the growing city. Mr. Orser said part of the solution is to bring business to the State Rt. 25 corridor. Mr. Evans said he'd talk to the division heads to come up with a plan to manage services.
Mr. Klewer and Mr. Mackin said the biggest challenge is planning, which includes projecting a revenue stream as well as infrastructure and services like police and fire. "Without a plan, we are totally disjointed," Mr. Klewer said.
Mr. Mackin said that since he has been on council the city has developed a policy initiative grid that includes goals for the city.
Much of the emphasis during the debate was on growth and economic development. All four candidates said they thought that economic development would help the schools.
They also all said that tax abatements are a good tool for bringing jobs to the city. Mr. Mackin said they should be used for a "quality business" and Mr. Evans said they need to make sure the business would not leave once the term of the abatement is up.
Mr. Klewer said residential growth is difficult to control, and that planning is critical to economic growth.
Mr. Evans, 51, a former Perrysburg police chief, said he has the leadership and communication abilities that a mayor needs.
"For more than 25 years I had to demonstrate all of those qualities as a police officer," he said.
Mr. Klewer, 51, emphasized his accomplishments as a councilman from 1996 to 2003 and his business experience as president and owner of a security firm. Asked what he would do if a business he were involved with requested a tax abatement or other city aid, he said, "I would take the appropriate, prudent, and ethical action on anything that crosses my desk as mayor."
Another question addressed to him involved a bid for a security system for a water tower that a company he owned was awarded in 2001. Mr. Klewer said he was told his company had submitted the lowest bid at $2,000, and that it was awarded by the mayor's office, not the council.
Mr. Mackin, 40, a Perrysburg attorney who is serving his second term on council, said he wants to ensure that the government's actions are in the best interest of the entire community.
To show his experience, Mr. Orser, 63, pointed to his 11 years on council and the one year he served as mayor. He said he thinks the citizens deserve better service than they had during the past five years.
Some of the residents who attended the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Perrysburg Area already planned to support one of the men, and their minds were unchanged. Others learned about the candidates for the first time.
Andre Washington, who recently moved to Perrysburg, graded each candidate on a scale of one to four as they answered questions. He said that Mr. Mackin and Mr. Evans were "neck and neck."