Rossford City Council will feature at least two new members after the ballots from the Nov. 7 election are counted.
Four seats are on the line in a race that has centered on rising water rates and infrastructure needs. Incumbents Jerry Staczek and Caroline Zuchowski-Eckel are running for re-election. They are challenged by Bob Densic, Chirs Heban, and Jim Richards.
Dan Wagner's term was also up for re-election, but he resigned in August. An appointment was not made. Joseph Minarcin is not seeking re-election.
Ms. Zuchowski-Eckel did not respond to a request for comment.
Five people are running for four seats on Rossford's council.
Mr. Staczek joined council six years ago after Mr. Richards resigned with two years left on his term. The 55-year-old captain-at-will and merchant marine officer said he wants to stay on council because he believes many of his colleagues don't listen to the community.
"I don't think they understand the struggles going on with households," Mr. Staczek said. "It really bugs me that so many people have lived in this community for a long time, yet don't feel a part of it."
Mr. Staczek believes a fire levy may be in order to address a tight budget and dwindling manpower. He said $120,000 of the $200,000 annual budget is eaten up by salaries, leaving a small amount of money to take care of apparatuses and equipment.
"Having new roads and schools is great, but at 3 in the morning when there's a fire at your house, you're not going to [care] about schools and roads," Mr. Staczek said.
The councilman said he wants to look into reverse osmosis systems, or joining with Perrysburg and Perrysburg Township to address water rates.
Lower taxes, safe and affordable water, prioritizing spending, and regional development are the main points in Mr. Densic's plan.
"There was a couple I met going door to door where the wife answered and she was crying," Mr. Densic said. "Her and her husband had just decided they have to move because they could no longer afford to live in the city between water rates and property taxes."
Mr. Densic, 50, also ran for council in 2013 and 2015. He's against the proposed 0.25 percent income tax hike for roads, and instead wants to develop a preventative maintenance plan. He believes an income tax increase would hurt citizens in the long run.
"We cannot tax our way to prosperity by taxing the citizens into poverty," Mr. Densic said. "Everything we do must focus on the long-term growth and stability of the citizens and businesses."
Mr. Densic is the architect for Eastern Michigan University and believes his experience would be a valuable asset on council. He's in charge of all planning and designing for the college, meeting both shortand long-term needs.
At 34, Mr. Heban is the youngest candidate in the race. He's a lifetime Rossford resident, and love for his community inspired him to run.
"I just want to serve," Mr. Heban said. "The debt I owe to Rossford can never be repaid. I just want to serve the city that served me."
Mr. Heban wants to set up a preventative maintenance program for roads in an attempt to never need to come to the citizens for more tax money. Communication and transparency are the focal points of Mr. Heban's campaign. If elected, he plans to set up community forums on social media.
"I wouldn't say [communication] is lacking, but I want to champion this," Mr. Heban said. "People just want to be informed. If I'm elected, I'll keep going door to door."
Mr. Heban is the director of food service and head chef at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. He said he has experience working with tight budgets, and believes that would be an asset on council.
Mr. Richards served on council for 18 years before resigning in 2010. The 74-year-old believes his sense of history could be beneficial if he gets elected again.
"Frequently I'll have a council member stop me on the street and ask me about something that happened years ago," Mr. Richards said. "We went through devastating economic times when I was on council. Before I left, we leveled that off and began accumulating a rainy day fund again."
Among the items on Mr. Richards' agenda are building up the public works department and funding a few items on the department’s wishlist. He also wants key employees in each department to get training in grant writing.
"I think we have missed some opportunities," Mr. Richards said. "Grant writing is truly a science these days. I think we've done reasonably well going after ODOT grants and safety grants, but there are non-public foundations we haven't pursued."
Mr. Richards worked as a staff writer at The Blade before owning his own liquor store. He has also served on the board of the Rossford Library and Wood County Committee of Aging. He is the Rossford representative to the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority board.
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