Editor's Note: This version corrects the election for Bedford Township board positions from general election to primary election.
Moderator Dustin Cress, far left, introduces, seated, from left, supervisor candidates Walt Wilburn, and Greg Stewart, clerk candidates Trudy Hershberger and Gail Hauser-Hurley, and treasurer candidates Paul Francis and Laura Collins during a Bedford Republican Club forum on Thursday.
TEMPERANCE -- Bedford Township Republicans vying for the township's three highest offices on Thursday made their case for why voters should elect them supervisor, clerk, and treasurer. The occasion was a party forum sponsored by the Bedford Republican Club.
Republicans are a virtual certainty to take the offices, all of which are full time. The GOP is the only party represented in the races, and the three winners in the Aug. 7 party primary are expected to win by default. Theirs will be the only names for those positions on the township's November ballot, barring the emergence of independent candidates before the election or write-in candidates on the ballot. It's too late for a Democrat to file.
The forum, held in a sultry Bedford Junior High School cafeteria, gave the six candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions read by a moderator. About 50 people attended.
The race for supervisor pits incumbent Walt Wilburn against Greg Stewart, the administrator in Luna Pier. Mr. Wilburn is in his eighth year as supervisor and seeks a third term.
The clerk's race is between Trudy Hershberger, who was appointed this year after the death of her predecessor, longtime clerk and Democrat Bob Schockman, and Gail Hauser-Hurley, a township trustee.
The two candidates for treasurer vie for the seat being vacated by Sherri Meyer, who is retiring at the end of the year after a 30-year stint in the office. Laura Collins and Paul Francis are both accountants. Mr. Francis also is a township trustee and has a CPA designation.
Poor roads are a perennial complaint in Bedford. Mr. Wilburn said 155 miles of roads have been improved since he took office but added that 120 more miles needed to be done. He said the township under him had reduced the cost of government with staff reductions in 2007 and had cut the cost of medical insurance by making employees pay more and eliminating coverage for future retirees. If re-elected, he said he would like to reduce the hours allowed to burn yard waste and continue his work on road improvements.
Mr. Stewart said the township needed new management and touted his own background in economic development. He praised Mr. Wilburn for having done "a very good job for eight years," but said Bedford needed "to take another step up." He said he had 25 years of experience as a business controller and manager and 2 1/2 years of experience as a municipal manager. As supervisor, he said he would post all township financials on the new Web site, which is under construction. Business development, he said, is key to stabilizing residential real estate values.
Ms. Hershberger said she had been working on the new Web site and would make agendas and related materials available to the public on it. She said she has been a township employee since 1997 and in her 12 years in the clerk's department has overseen the budget and accounts payable.
Ms. Hauser-Hurley described her 12 years as a Monroe County commissioner, during which she was involved in computerizing county operations and served on the panel's transportation committee. She said she was involved in overseeing the county's then-$42 million budget. "I feel I'm up to the challenge," she said.
Ms. Collins said she graduated from college in 1994 as a nontraditional student and opened her own tax practice three years later. She said the majority of her clients were township residents and businesses and pointed out that she was president of the Bedford Business Association and treasurer of the Bedford Community Foundation. As treasurer, she would want to do away with burdensome business regulations, she said.
Mr. Francis said he had 43 years as a CPA and had audited school districts and townships. His expertise extends to all aspects of government accounting and financial reporting, he said. He is in his eighth year as a trustee and also spent eight years as a member of the Bedford Board of Education.
All the candidates agreed that the defeat of the levy renewals for police and fire protection next month would be bad for the township.
A defeat would indicate a lack of trust in township government, Mr. Stewart said. Ms. Collins said the township would have to look for "a different avenue in the budget to fund them."
Mr. Francis said flatly the budget lacked money to fund the services. "Those are critical. If they fail, we have to go [on the ballot] again and get them passed," he said.
The township board includes four trustees seats for which 10 candidates -- eight Republicans and two Democrats -- are running in the primary election.
Contact Carl Ryan at: email@example.com or 419-724-6095.
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