Five people — three incumbents and two former council members — are seeking to be elected Nov. 7 to Fairfield City Council.
The Journal-News asked each candidate for the council’s three open at-large seats about issues facing the city, the future leadership of the city administration and economic development.
To learn more about the candidates, check out our online Voters Guide at vote.Journal-News.com.
Q: Where are the city’s economic development growth areas, and what economic development opportunities does the city need capitalize on?
Ronald D’Epifanio: “We need to maintain the current employers we have in our city as well as attracting new business’s by the tools we have available to us such as tax incentives ( as long as they pay the full amount owed to our schools) we need an aggressive recruiting agenda to encourage new business’s to come to Fairfield emphasizing location with easy access to I-275, I-71, Bypass Ohio 4 as well as a good work force and well trained students from Butler Tech Career School.”
Chad Oberson: “Industrial space will be our number one future growth opportunities. Today’s industrial space is very different than what it was 10 years ago. It used to be the industrial space was great to have but it didn’t help that bottom line. That’s not the case anymore. That’s what we’re going to attract, so let’s try to attract the higher end stuff.”
Terry Senger: “The city needs to attempt to capitalize on all possible businesses that can improve the city. This should not be limited to any particular type of business such as industrial, retail, or restaurants. But, it is more important to determine which businesses benefit the community and when that determination is made, make every attempt to entice them to make Fairfield their place to do business. Many businesses site the ease of entry and transit via Fairfield’s main roadways. Therefore, it is very important to maintain our roadways, utilities, and traffic control lights such that they make Fairfield the best place to do business.”
Mike Snyder: “Fairfield is attractively situated with major access points to two interstate highways and other major routes. The area around Cincinnati Financial and Mercy Hospital has not yet been fully developed. Much potential for medical and professional business. The industrial area north of Ohio 4, to the east, continues to be seen as a premium location for development. We have an aggressive, professional Development Services Department that is constantly working to tell the positive benefits of doing business from Fairfield.”
Bill Woeste: “For the past 4 years, we have added tens of millions of dollars of new payroll jobs to the city. Strong relationships with existing companies and a welcoming attitude to new business makes all the difference in building a strong economic base. My 40 years of industrial business experience gives me a unique set of skills to make businesses in Fairfield feel right at home. More importantly we have an excellent staff to ensure an even brighter future ahead.”
Q: The city’s administrative leadership — including police and fire chiefs — is expected to change over the next few years. Talk about the importance of finding the right leader for these positions heading into the next several years.
D’Epifanio: Under the leadership of our past city manager and our current city manager, our current department heads have been addressing this situation by implementing leadership and training of our current employees hoping to insure a smooth transition. I have total faith in our city manager to make the proper decision on these appointments as these are the individuals who report to him. If he feels no one currently employed by us is not prepared to take on this task I would recommend a national search, although I don’t expect that to happen.
Oberson: “I think we have staff who we feel have highly quality internal candidates. I don’t know enough about those internal candidates. (Police and fire) are two of our most expensive departments, one of which we had to increase taxes on our citizens. I feel like those are two of those departments that are costing us a ton and ton of money. I think our police and fire departments do a good job, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a fiscally conservative person in those (positions).”
Senger: “As a previous council member who was directly involved with the selection of our last two city managers, I feel that it is very important to do you own homework by reviewing a large number of resumes and screening the applicants thoroughly. Consultants do a good job when you may need them, but no consultant knows the needs of the city better than the elected council members and employees of the city. In this way, the best employees within the city are never overlooked for internal promotions.”
Snyder: “It is critical that these positions are filled by premium individuals committed to building on the strong foundation left by predecessors. Council will work with professional organizations for evaluating in-house and outside candidates for police and fire positions. Council will evaluate and interview police, fire and management candidates for the right combination of background and demonstrated leadership to move Fairfield to the next level.”
Woeste: “When selecting leadership for some departments of city government, council can officially recommend, or encourage the city manager to make wise choices. The protocols are already in place to ensure the best candidate is secured. Time will tell if you have the ‘right’ person for the position. But if history is any indication, the last four years has shown that we have a great tract record in this regard.”
Q: What are the top 3 issues facing the city of Fairfield?
D’Epifanio: “We need to maintain our cash reserve while still providing the services our residents pay for and deserve. Also we need to keep our bond rating at the highest level possible saving thousands of dollars in interest. Our police and fire forces need to be fully staffed so we can continue to provide our residents with the highest public service protection available.”
Oberson: “I think spending is getting pretty bad. Spending is not being watched and I think it’s ‘there’s a lot of money so let’s spend it’ type of thinking. Second is our bond rating. If we spend to much it’s going to affect our bond rating. Also, we’re not attracting the 30-to-5o-year-old demographic. I think that’s a demographic we’re missing. My friends and I are in that 40-something demographic and we’re going to Blue Ash, we’re going to Hamilton. We’re going to Hamilton a lot and I couldn’t say that four to five years ago. There’s a lot of 30- to 50-year-olds but we’re missing the boat. I’ve got some ideas and I’ve shared that with the city.”
Senger: “We created new standards for property maintenance in 2008 and hired inspectors to ensure that Fairfield properties were improved and well maintained. It’s time to reemphasize this policy. Also, the city’s web page needs to be more interactive for residents use to enable them to participate in activities to process on-line payments. Third, we need to ensure that the city maintains its AA1 Bond rating. Maintaining a strong financial position enables the city to provide the most needed services when times get tough. The recession of 2008-2010 was a good example of when the city utilized its strong financial position to make ends meet when tax revenue was reduced.”
Snyder: “We have diverse housing available. All citizens benefit from (the city)continuing to aggressively monitor and maintain high standards for appearance. Also, I fought for new senior housing in Fairfield so citizens could continue to reside as they age. Third, a cadre of senior managers will retire from service over the next few years. I want to leverage my 15-plus years of service on council to be part of the transition to new management.”
Woeste: ‘We need to continue to attract new business as well as encouraging existing business to expand so we can continue to offer our citizens a high quality of life. Also, the daily running of city government depends on strong, wise and caring employees. We must always find these types of people to support our success. Third, infrastructure can be every city’s nightmare. We are working to set long term plans to keep Fairfield from suffering any catastrophic failure of important systems, particularly those that contribute directly to our quality of life.”
VOTERS GUIDE ONLINE
Ohio’s prescription drug ballot issue is dominating this election cycle, but State Issue 2 is not the only issue facing voters.
There are dozens of local races for mayor, city councils, school boards and township trustees. There’s also fire levies and countywide tax issues on the ballot.
Find out what’s on the ballot in your area in our interactive voters guide at vote.Journal-News.com.