By Martha Jacob –
Georgetown voters will have six candidates on it’s November 7, 2017 ballot for Ripley Village Council.
Susan Bean (incumbent) and Connie Slack will appear as ‘write-in’s, while incumbents Wade Highlander, David Guenther and Kelly Cornette and newcomer Andrew Clift will also appear on the ballot.
Each of the candidates prepared some comments for the paper to share their thoughts and ideas on why voters should pick them to fill the four seats up for grabs.
The following information was submitted by the candidates to help voters make an educated choice.
• Susan F. Bean is currently a member of Georgetown Council and had originally decided not to seek another term, but later announced her intentions to appear on the ballot as a write-in.
“After making my decision not to run, it appeared that there would only be three candidates running for four open seats, because one of the petitions had not qualified,” Bean said, “After deciding to run, I found that I was too late to submit a petition, so I registered as a write-in candidate.”
Bean said when a fourth candidate appealed his disqualification to the board of elections and was reinstated, she found herself changing her mind yet again.
“So, bottom line here,” Bean said, “Yes, I am registered as a write-in candidate, but I will not be running for the office.
“I would, however like to endorse my former colleagues on the council as well as Andrew Clift, an energetic young man who has great ideas.”
• Andrew Clift has thrown his hat into the ring for Georgetown Council and says he has spent 7 years in sales followed by 6 years as a consumer relations administrator. He says he has learned how to treat people with respect.
“This is my first venture into the realm of politics,” Clift said. “But I feel I have learned a lot by regularly attending council meetings and listening.
“I am currently an appointed member of both the Tax Review Board and the Georgetown Tree Committee and involved in community activities such as Cub Scout Pack #304 and Georgetown Bicentennial Committee.
“I will be able to commit as much time to this position as is required and then some. My hope is to spend a great deal of my free time outside of council continuing to research ways that we can better our community. I hope to find more grants and state programs that we can take advantage of. We need to be benefitting from these programs.”
Clift stated that his priorities as a councilman would include business growth and development and look closely at programs like T.I.F., (Tax Incremental Financing). and encourage other council members to unite in their efforts that will benefit the village in the long term.
“Preserving our historic district is also very important to me,” Clift said. “I think I will bring a level of passion, energy and enthusiasm that has been lost on some of the incumbents.
“Voters in Georgetown who are looking for someone to go above and beyond what is the minimum requirement then they should vote for me. I have an unwavering love for Georgetown.”
• Kelly L. Cornette is serving her second term as Georgetown Village Councilwoman and was appointed in 2015 to a vacated position on council then ran her first successful campaign.
“I am fortunate that the people of our village allowed me the opportunity to serve the community for the last two years as a village council member,” Cornette said. “This opportunity has really allowed me to dig further into some of the issues facing our community and learn more about how we can work together to solve some of these items.
“In addition to currently serving on council I bring 20 years of banking leadership and management to the table with many of those years partnering with small businesses in multiple communities.
“I feel I have a strong work ethic and have felt it necessary to work until the job is complete. There truly is not a time limit that I can say I put forth as a member of council but I can say that I am accessible to this community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Cornette said she believes the biggest issue facing Georgetown is finding money to grow. Governmental budget cuts are rampant across the country and Georgetown has certainly taken a fair share of those cuts.
“We certainly need economic growth, but without money it is hard to have the resources to compete with larger communities out there,” Cornette said. “Being creative, looking for any and all opportunities to secure grant money and making fiscally smart decisions with dollars spent is critical in rural markets.”
When asked ‘what distinguishes her from other candidates, Cornette said, “Honestly, I do not believe there is truly a contrast between myself and the other candidates. We all have our qualities that we bring to the table.
“For me, it’s more about me being able to see myself continually grow and develop in the position and being even more valuable to the community in the coming years. I have a passion for this community and am willing to work hard to see it through.”
Cornette said she feels she is very familiar with the community and understands the needs of the community. She said she hears the concerns and wants to work to make Georgetown even stronger that it already is.
“I want Georgetown to thrive as it once did when I was a child growing up in this community,” she said. “I have many fond memories here and I want to make sure my family and others are given that same opportunity.”
• David M. Guenther is currently serving as councilman on Georgetown Council and is in hopes that voters will keep him in that position.
“I have been serving on council for three years now,” Guenther said. “As a councilman I have been the chairman over the Community Development Committee dealing with Georgetown’s streets, housing, annexation, signage, sidewalks, parks, building use and Cemetery and economic development.
“I have also served as a member of the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC). It’s been a good three years for me and I feel I am well qualified for this seat.”
Guenther served 7 years in the U.S. Navy and has a rich background in retail management along with property management. He has been a licensed realtor for over 17 years and owns a small company that specializes in the preservation and repair of bank owned properties.
“Because I am self-employed I am able to make my own schedule,” he said. “This has not been an issue in the past and I see no reason why it would be in the future, so I look forward to continuing to serve.
“Economic development and the safety of the residents of this village are two of what I consider priorities as a councilman. We need a safe community in order to attract new businesses. We have a major drug epidemic in Ohio and our village is not exempt from it. I am a big supporter of our police department. I believe they are doing a great job in combating this epidemic, but they can’t do it alone.
“I believe in a small but effective government. I voted against zoning in Georgetown, not because I’m against zoning as a whole, but I felt that there are parts of the zoning ordinance that are too restrictive on personal property rights.”
Guenther said he also voted against Georgetown’s Tree City Ordinance because he felt it too was overbearing on personal property rights. He believes he was standing up for residents rights by opposing them.
“Georgetown is my home,” Guenther said, “and I feel I can be a voice for the people of this village as a member of Georgetown Council.
• Wade Highlander is a member of the Georgetown Village Council and is the current president of Highlander Property Management, located in Georgetown as well as the owner of a local restaurant. He worked in finance/banking for 21 years, the last 10 of which serving as vice president of Emery Federal Credit Union.
“I’ve also worked as a Brown County Deputy Sheriff and feel I bring quite an array of experience to the seat on Georgetown Council,” Highlander said, “I understand the importance of a balanced budget, as well as the need for emergency services, while keeping in mind the importance of maintaining property values in our community, just to name a few.
“I have an adequate amount of time to commit to the position of council and I am currently serving as a member of Georgetown Council, appointed in 2015.”
Highlander said that with the loss of the local hospital and ultimately the emergency room, trying to replace that void is a priority for him as a member of council and a citizen of Georgetown. He added that having some kind of ER is utmost important to him.
“With the additional travel time for our emergency staff, and the extra wear and tear on our equipment,” he said, “We need to take the appropriate steps necessary to protect that service to our community.”
Highlander added that equal concerns and priorities he has included the continued improvement to the village infrastructure and economic development.
“I feel that sitting on council is a good way to give back to my community, where I have lived for 47 years,” he said. “I have a vested interest in the Georgetown community because not only do I live here, but, I’ve raised my children here, my stepson still attends Georgetown High School, and my wife and I both own multiple businesses here.”
• Connie J. Slack feels that she will bring excellent leadership skills to the Georgetown Council along with office management skills and her integrity, which is important when it comes to making sound decisions.
“I have 27 years of banking experience,” Slack said, “And I have 12 years of real estate experience as well as experience as a village council member in the past.
“I will be able to spend as much time as is necessary to serve as a council member and I consider obtaining emergency medical transportation and our fire department as priorities for me. Police protection, in regard to the drug epidemic, are also high on my priority list.”
When asked what distinguishes her from other candidates, Slack said she feels she is well known in the community with excellent rapport with people. She has experience with serving and representing the people in the village. She has also held the position of village clerk treasurer and council member.
“I have a long family history serving this community,” Slack said. “My parents, Wanda and Joe Cahall were both involved with the village and my mother was village clerk treasurer and my father worked for the retired from the village where he was employed at the water works and electric department.
“My father was a volunteer firefighter from the age of 18 until he retired in the 80’s. I would be honored to be a part of the legacy.
“I am a dedicated individual, interested in serving the community and making our village a better place to live, work and play. We have a beautiful village and we CAN make progress.”