Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
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Politics

Incumbent, 2 challengers on ballot in Perrysburg mayor race

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    Olmstead

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    Orser

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    Mackin

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On Tuesday, a primary election will narrow Perrysburg’s mayoral field from three to two. Incumbent mayor Michael Olmstead is running against challengers Jon Orser and Tom Mackin in the nonpartisan primary for the general election race for the mayor’s seat on Nov. 7.

Early voting has been under way for about a month, and the Wood County Board of Elections had 27 in-person early votes at its Bowling Green office through Sunday afternoon, and 100 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters.

Mr. Olmstead has touted the past four years of his administration as productive. His campaign signs boast about getting things done, which has formed the core message of his primary campaign.

“It’s a healthy, vibrant community, and it’s only getting better,” said Mr. Olmstead, who also owns and operates his own physical therapy practice. “Truly, our best times are forward. There’s so much opportunity.”

Both challengers have objected to his self-assessment.

“Leadership needs to serve the community,” said Mr. Mackin, the general counsel for the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority and a former city councilman. “It isn’t about checking off the bright shiny objects or goals that are set by the leadership. Its about making Perrysburg a better place by accomplishing what the community wants to have happen.”

He wants to internally review the city’s staff to make sure his administration would work as effectively as possible, emphasizing transparency and the ease with which residents can get information.

“We have to make sure our employees, who I think are very passionate about serving the community and want to do the best job, get the best equipment, the best training, so they can do their job as effectively as possible in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

Mr. Orser, who owns a property management group that owns seven downtown Perrysburg parcels, has been an outspoken opponent of development along the riverfront, particularly the Riverside Park project that opened this summer. He considers himself a preservationist interested in keeping Perrysburg from growing in undesirable ways.

“I don’t see that there is a need for a great expansion of residential growth here simply because it puts a burdens on the services we provide,” he said. “The tax revenue from that kind of development doesn’t pay for the additional need for service and just forms a quality-of-life issue; it becomes more and more dense and not particularly pleasant to live in.”

The mayor’s position is nominally part-time, though Mr. Olmstead would dispute that classification.

“Certain days will be busier than others, but every day you are actively involved doing something in the city,” he said.

The city’s administration is overseen by a full-time city administrator, who is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by a city council vote. Bridgette Kabat, the current city administrator, took the job toward the end of the previous mayor’s administration. Mr. Olmstead has said nothing but positive things about her and the rest of the staff.

“She’s doing an excellent job,” he said. “This is a great team of people.”

Mr. Orser said he intends to spend every day after 1 p.m. in the mayor’s office overseeing the city’s administrative staff.

“At this point, I have not had any thoughts about the individuals in the job,” he said. “I’m interested in the command structure.”

Mr. Mackin wants to spend some time in the office before any staffing decisions are made.

“There’s a tension, a lack of trust between the community and the current administration, and somewhat to council. That’s my perception,” he said. “You’re going to come in and evaluate who’s doing what and why, and if decisions or change need to be made, you have to be willing to be make that change. I’m not going to be taking any action on Day One.”

The polls will be open on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m., and voters can find their polling location at wood.oh-vote.org.

Contact Zack Lemon at zlemon@theblade.com419-724-6282 or on Twitter @zack_lemon.

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