WAUSEON - Contested races for village council seats have resulted in a sea of campaign signs in Archbold, Delta, and Swanton as incumbents battle to retain their seats and newcomers strive to put their names before voters.
A controversial water issue sparked interest in council seats in Delta where seven candidates are vying for three seats.
Incumbents Allan McQuillin and Frank Wilton face challengers Rose Butz, Lynn Frank, Keith Lantz, and Michael Wolford. Also running is Cathy Buehrer, appointed to council in 2004.
Mr. McQuillin, 53, wants to continue working on projects of benefit to the village, such as upgrades to the sewer plant. Office manager for a local firm, Mr. McQuillin has accounting experience that he brings to the council table. "I want to continue serving the village," he said.
Mr. Wilton, 55, who holds a middle management position with a Toledo firm, also wants to retain his seat because work remains unfinished on several important projects.
Work on the controversial water plant is under way. "Some people think we made mistakes" on that, Mr. Wilton said, but the decision was made after years spent exploring options.
Some residents opposed a water rate increase to help pay for the plant. Opponents included candidate Butz who filed a lawsuit against the village clerk over a referendum on the increase.
That case cost the village $22,000 in legal fees, Mr. Wilton said.
Ms. Frank, 49, who works in the accounting department for a Perrysburg firm, was unhappy about the water plant. She's running because it's time to get a "new voice in there" and head the village in the right direction.
Other candidates didn't respond to requests for comments.
In Archbold, voters will elect three council members. Candidates are incumbents Kenneth Cowell, Jeff Fryman, and Brad Grime and former councilman Roger Pinkelman.
A main goal of Mr. Grime, 51, a business owner, is to keep the village on track with infrastructure improvements. Funds from a tax increase several years ago are earmarked for street projects, and "I am a real stickler that the work gets done as promised."
Mr. Cowell, 45, appointed to council, welcomes the opportunity to "return something to the community." Goals include maintaining a good working relationship between council and residents, and extending Lafayette Street to Road 24. He's an engineering technician with the Fulton County sanitary engineer's office.
Mr. Fryman, 35, wants to stay on council to finish projects such as rebuilding infrastructure in older residential areas. He too is interested in extending Lafayette to relieve traffic congestion in that area.
A business owner, he's pleased with the positive reaction to the Defiance Street improvements. That project, he said, probably has been somewhat of a pinnacle of his years on council.
Mr. Pinkelman didn't respond to a request for comment.
In Swanton, candidates for four council seats are divided on a local ballot issue. Incumbents William Belinger, Richard Ueberroth, and Scott Haselman support an income tax increase while candidates Pamela Moore and Mike Rochelle oppose it. Incumbent Robert Gill is not seeking re-election.
Swanton residents will decide whether to approve a 0.5 percent increase in the municipal income tax; revenue would be earmarked for the police department.
Mr. Belinger, 66, who works part-time for a mortgage firm, has served five terms on council. He's interested in staying involved in the decision-making process for village projects. A top goal: "Get the village on a financially sound basis," Mr. Belinger said. He noted that it's been 18 years since the income tax rate was increased, and during that time, the village's cost of doing business outpaced its revenue stream.
Mr. Ueberroth, 56, a retired school administrator, wants to continue to help solve the village's financial problems, and he's interested in encouraging economic development. When it comes to the tax increase, he said, "There is no other choice."
The police department might be in jeopardy if voters reject the tax hike. "I would hate to see the police department go. With Swanton's proximity to Toledo, we need a full-time police department," Mr. Ueberroth said.
Mrs. Moore, 52, a business owner, would like to get back on council because "I think I can make a difference. I made a difference on council before," she said.
She said residents pay enough taxes. The village should cut costs, she said. "I think we can look within the budget and make some major cuts," she said.
Mr. Rochelle, 27, a bank branch manager, wants to bring young ideas and young blood to council because, he said, Swanton isn't moving forward. Goals include pumping up the tax base by bringing in new businesses.
The income tax increase is a bad idea, he said. "If Swanton keeps taxing the residents of this town, sooner or later people will move out," he said.
Mr. Haselman, 36, is seeking another term because he likes "the involvement with the community." Owner of a Toledo law firm, he supports the income tax issue. Swanton must increase its revenue stream or cuts would have to be made where residents really notice, he said. Disbanding the police department might be considered if the issue fails. Nobody wants to have to go through that, he said, but "Every option would have to go on the table."