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Published: Tuesday, 10/27/2009

Candidates clash over proposal for police protection

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In Springfield Township, four candidates - Thomas Anderson, Helen Darrah, and incumbents Marylin Yoder and Bob Bethel - are vying for two seats on the township Board of Trustees as the community swirls over how to deal with the new $2.9 million price tag for police protection.

Springfield would owe the Lucas County Sheriff up to $2.9 million for patrol service. With a discount from the county, the township would pay about $2.3 million for patrol service next year.

Holland Police have also bid for the job with a plan that would cost up to $3.4 million.

Incumbents Mrs. Yoder and Mr. Bethel stand on opposite sides of the issue - she was the dissenting vote when the board voted 2-1 in August to favor the initial proposal from Holland.

Mrs. Yoder, 76, has served 32 years as a township trustee. She was unseated in 1993 and ran successfully to win it back in 2001. She has been retired "a long time," she said, as a secretary for the business she owned with her husband, Yoder Machinery.

"I think it's important to run every time," she said of her candidacy. "It doesn't need to be an important issue for me to run."

It just so happens that she does feel strongly about the issue at hand - police protection. Mrs. Yoder opposes protection from Holland Police because she said "the deputies know our hot spots." However, she also stands ideologically against the levy that would pay for protection from the Lucas County Sheriff's Office because the ballot language does not offer residents a choice between the county and Holland.

Trustee Chairman Mr. Bethel, 52, has served eight years on the board and works as human resource director for Bittersweet Farms. He said he first became interested in holding office as a volunteer firefighter for the township in the late 1970s.

"I love the community. I love being involved," he said.

Mr. Bethel said he supports the levy. Though he favors the current proposal for police protection from Holland, the August vote was not legally binding, he said.

"The price was better. The coverage was better. The local control was better," Mr. Bethel said. During public meetings, Mr. Bethel has questioned whether the township gets what it pays for from the county, because the sheriff could reassign the township's deputy during emergencies.

Candidate Thomas Anderson, 66, retired from Toledo Concrete Pipe Co. about 12 years ago, has never held elected office. He ran unsuccessfully for township trustee in 2005 and 2007.

His campaign focuses on warding off property-tax increases, and he is running "to try to give the property owners a little break," he said.

On the police issue, he stands against the levy and paying for sheriff's protection the township used to get for free.

"I'm a thousand-percent opposed to the police levy on the simple reason that we pay property tax and sales tax for our Lucas County sheriffs. We will not lose our Lucas County sheriffs," Mr. Anderson told The Blade recently. "They're not going to leave you unprotected. It's just bull."

In fact, the county funds the sheriff's office with sales-tax revenue, not property tax, Sheriff Jim Telb said. The sheriff has said that his deputies would respond only to life-threatening calls if the township won't pay.

Another candidate, Helen Darrah, 30, works as a support services manager for NSS Enterprises, a Toledo company that manufactures commercial cleaning equipment. She also works part-time as executive director of the Holland-Springfield Alumni Association.

Mrs. Darrah was previously elected to the Holland Village Council, and served a four-year term from January, 2004, to December, 2007. She ran unsuccessfully for township trustee in 2007.

There was no single issue that brought her onto the ballot.

"I'm not someone that has an ax to grind," she said. "I just think it's time for a change. It's been business as usual."

Mrs. Darrah also stands against the levy, like Mrs. Yoder, because she said she believes the voters should be asked which entity should provide police protection. If asked, she'd go with the sheriff, she said, adding that "the ink will be dry before I'm in there."



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