Three seats are open on Wellington village council, and local voters have a pool of four candidates from which to choose on Nov. 7.
Councilwoman Sandy Denes chose not to seek reelection this fall, leaving her seat open come Dec. 31.
Incumbents Gene Hartman and Keith Rowland are each hunting for another term and will face challenge from William Bogan and Stephen Boham.
Wellington elections are nonpartisan. The three candidates with the most votes when the polls close win.
In September, we sent a survey to village council candidates asking for their responses to five questions to help voters decide who should help Wellington move forward for the next four years:
1) What do you believe you can accomplish on village council in the next four years, and why are you the right person to make that vision a reality?
2) What talents, skills, and qualifications do you bring to the table as a candidate?
3) Wellington firefighters are responding to more and more fire, crash, and medical calls each year in a very large service area. Meanwhile, the police department has a high turnover rate among its officers. What should be done to provide additional support to village safety forces?
4) Wellington has seen economic growth on its north side recently, but there are plenty of vacant buildings downtown. What are your feelings on a proposed vacant building registry, and what other steps would you take to foster business growth across the village?
5) As Wellington approaches its bicentennial year, what do you want to see carried over into the next 200 years and what do you want to see change?
Vickie Rutherford, who met the August deadline to file as a candidate, has since withdrawn.
Three other village council members have terms that expire Dec. 31, 2019, and do not appear on this year’s ballot. They are Guy Wells, Helen Dronsfield, and Mark Bughman.
WILLIAM BOGAN Occupation: Pre-Engineering/Robotics Instructor at Lorain High School Education: BS in Education from Ohio State University, MA in Technology from Kent State University 1) I believe the most important reason to run for public is that you want to serve. You accomplish so much with an open mind and the need to make life better for your community. 2) I have spent my life in service. From teaching to serving in my community in my church, as a coach and officer in community sports. 3) Village safety is mostly comprised of people. Without manpower, the equipment stands still. You need people. 4) Growth to any small town is an ongoing issue. Wellington has done well compared to many other communities of its size. A vacancy registry alone will not solve the problem. We need to find an identity that will bring in people outside of Wellington, and then work to bring in business that builds that identity. 5) The underpass was one of the best things that was happened to the village of Wellington. First, it helped to create the identity that I was talking about. Second, it kept the traffic in our community. If you give people a way to bypass our village, they will, and the town dies. The village needs outsiders to keep the community alive. The local cannot do it on their own.
STEPHEN BOHAM Occupation: Owner of Elyria Machining Service Education: Big Walnut High School, U.S. Army Finance and Accounting, Accounting Degree, Tool and Die Journeyman 1) A candidate for Wellington village council’s first priority must be to the people in the community. Establish and maintain needed infrastructure and services that support public safety and quality of life for residents and businesses. Challenges facing the village are efforts to revitalize our downtown, upgrading public facilities, and keeping necessary costs in line with our income. Economic growth is always on the forefront. 2) Dignity, honor, and determination with willingness are a candidate’s greatest attributes. My background and knowledge of accounting and business principles (and) organizational skills help me work closely with others. Having worked for Contractors Inc., Lorain, Ohio, in my early career, I am versed in many areas of commercial construction. Have dealt with some government agencies. Served on the Private Industry Council (SDA 19), working with private industries and the Lorain County commissioners. Being a business owner, I have experienced all phases of being an entrepreneur. Sacrifice, dedication, and hard work and being able to understand your own abilities. 3) Fire chief Mike Wetherbee and police chief Tim Barfield are very qualified and competent individuals. Wellington village council has and always will support these individuals and their departments. Public safety is the mainstay of Wellington government. 4) I personally to not believe that Wellington needs a vacant building registry. We have an organization named Main Street Wellington Inc. Its mission statement is, “The purpose of Main Street Wellington Inc. is to revitalize Wellington’s central business district while preserving its historic character.” Its hard work and efforts can be seen throughout the community. Promoting the positive qualities of our community is every resident’s inherent duty. 5) As Wellington approaches its bicentennial year, a bright and bold future awaits our village. Our residents hold the key to a prosperous future. New businesses have opened in our community and we look for that to continue. We must celebrate all the great achievements of our village and remember the sacrifices of our founding fathers. “Serve God, serve your family, serve your community.”
GENE HARTMAN Occupation: Administrator at University Hospitals Education: BSBA in Business Management/Marketing from Bowling Green State University 1) I have had the opportunity to serve on village council for the past two years. In the next four years I believe we need to continue the work being done to beautify our downtown. It’s great that we have expanded both north and south of town, but I believe the heart of our community beats downtown. I am also focused on relocating the police station. The current location is too small and does not provide a safe environment. I also believe that council needs to work with the mayor and village manager to continue work on an employee succession plan to make sure that we continue to provide exemplary services to our residents. As far as being the right person for the job, I have to say that I’m not anyone special. I can tell you that I have a special place in my heart for Wellington. I was born and raised here and still have wonderful family and friends here. I will continue to work for you and always be prepared for meetings. I look forward to serving our community for the next four years. 2) As a candidate for village council, I believe that open, transparent communication is important. Communication is key to representing the residents of our community. I believe that listening is the most important component of communication. It is easy to share your beliefs; it’s something else to take time to listen to the views of others before you take a position. I always listen. It’s my nature to analyze things anyway, so that I am informed. I bring strong communication skills, the ability to unite not divide, a desire to serve and two years of proven experience on council. 3) The geographical area that fire and EMS covers is massive, something on the order of 125 square miles. It is challenging to cover this vast area. These two departments are levy funded by the residents of Wellington and the surrounding townships. I have had the pleasure of representing the village on the South Lorain County Ambulance District board for the past year and council also has representation on the fire district board. I believe that we continue to work with the fire chief and SLCAD executive director, and their respective boards, to understand what they may need, specifically, and what we can do to help. The police department has been experiencing a high turnover in officers primarily because they are being recruited by other departments who can provide full-time employment, higher pay, and benefits. I propose that council works with the mayor, village manager and chief Tim Barfield to look at ways that we can better compete to keep our well-trained police officers. 4) Wellington has experienced economic growth on the north and south side of the village, most recently with the addition of the Tractor Supply facility. While I applaud new business in the community, and the expansion to our north and south, I feel that the heart of our community beats in our downtown district. I am a supporter of the vacant building registry but need further information on how it is working in other communities where it has been implemented. In the meantime I have proposed that we engage current property owners in a dialogue to better understand what their intentions are with their properties. By bringing together owners who take pride in their building with those who have not we might learn how we can instill community pride in all. If that is not possible we have a course of action to follow from what we learned in the meeting. 5) I would like to see our schools continue to grow stronger. I would like to keep the small town charm and the strong sense of community. I want to see that our Safety Services continue to provide exceptional services to our community. And I want you and your family to be well. What I would like to see change, and eliminated, is the heroin problem and the destruction that it causes to families and the community.
KEITH ROWLAND Occupation: Product Manager for NN Inc. Education: 1988 Graduate of Wellington High School 1) Serving two years on the council, I believe there is a learning curve to this position. Therefore to answer this without being a member on the council would be difficult: • Address/maintain proper spending throughout the different departments. This would allow us to not always look to raise costs to the village population. • Succession planning is a must, especially due to the fact there are many village employees that are reaching that time in their careers where they will be looking to retire. • Look to build a new police station. The station at the town hall of very outdated and is not an adequate space needed to perform their daily duties. • Put in place a vacant building registry to assist with the downtown revitalization. 2) Currently serving as an appointed council member since 2015. I’m a business unit manager for the organization that I have worked at for 22 years. I manage the day-to-day operations for 75 associates and $15 million in sales. Serving in the United States Army for five years, therefore I’m dedicated to serve in many different capacities. 3) We need to look at the entire structure of the police department to include pay, full-time versus part-time hours — and do we have enough full-time officers? We also need to improve where they perform their daily duties. We need to perform exit interviews and learn from those interviews. It’s important that our safety services are not a revolving door or a training ground. Chief Tim Barfield does an excellent job with managing the force we need to give him the tools to be successful. 4) I’m an advocate of the vacant building registry. We have started to discuss this on the council. We need to put together a good vacant building registry to improve the downtown within the next 12 months. Growing up in Wellington, I always thought our downtown was the greatest place on Earth. However, it is apparent that we need to put more focus on the revitalization of this space. I know Main Street Wellington has some great ideas and programs to help; however, we need to take this to the next level. 5) Carried over: The great small-town feeling. Having the best safety service in the county. Having the pride that Wellington is the place to raise your families. Changes: New business growth that cultivates new technology. Centers/organizations that give the younger generation their space with good role modeling.