Incumbent Fairfield Twp. trustees Susan Berding and Shannon Hartkemeyer are running to keep their seats in this Nov. 7 election while township residents Pete Bohrofen and Ben Bultman are seeking a seat on the board.
The Journal-News asked each candidate about issues facing the township, the future leadership of the township and it’s marijuana moratorium. To learn more about the candidates, check out the Journal-News’ online Voters Guide at vote.Journal-News.com.
Q: There’s a lot of room for growth in Fairfield Twp. What’s your sales pitch to companies to make them choose Fairfield Twp.?
Susan Berding: “ Fairfield Twp. is a vibrant and growing community – one that is open for business and looking to provide our residents the best possible all-around living experience. We are doing this by concentrating on improvement to our safety services, roads, parks and our shopping and restaurant base. We also do this by working together with all community partners such as the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce to attract new businesses and help them assimilate. The leading career development and technical school in Ohio – Butler Tech – is located in Fairfield Twp. ”
Peter Bohrofen: “ I have worked with and listened to local business leaders who know the current state of affairs in Fairfield Twp. I am keenly aware of what they see when entertaining the idea of investing in a community.A commitment to provide our police, fire, service, and administration with the staff and equipment they need to do their jobs shows a potential developer that we support the safety of our community, the value of our property, and the quality of life in Fairfield Twp. Current conditions in the police, fire, service, and administration departments require immediate action to staff and equip the people who serve our citizens with the manpower and tools they need to provide the services the residents of Fairfield Twp. expect and deserve.
Benjamin Bultman: “Fairfield Twp. is a gateway community to our neighbor Hamilton and is in a great position to provide hospitality accommodations amongst other great developments. With the revitalization of Hamilton underway it is the perfect time to capitalize on implementing a comprehensive economic development plan that is guided by the community. With the establishment of the (Community Improvement Corporation) we must get our community board members in place and begin working on this high priority item. To promote development in Fairfield Twp. we must offer a plan that shows developers and prospective businesses and attractions we are ready for them and we have a place for them. ”
Shannon Hartkemeyer: “Fairfield Twp. is a growing vibrant community with citizens that appreciate new businesses that choose to locate in our township. We are highly interested in assisting our businesses in rapidly preparing to enter the market. The township boasts a talented labor pool that is poised and ready to staff new businesses. Our community has excellent infrastructure, services and utilities to serve the needs of our partners. We have plans to further improve our roads systems. Fairfield Twp. is the 45th largest township in the state of Ohio out of 1,308 townships.”
Q: What are the top 3 issues you see facing Fairfield Twp.?
Berding: “ We need to identify a site with adequate land and utilities for the new fire station. We are under contract to purchase land, which could be one option. With plans already developed, once the site is identified we are positioned to break ground and open our new station in 2018. Second, (the township needs) to maintain adequate staffing levels with part-time firefighters. This is not due to financial limitations because our residents passed a safety levy, but rather a limited candidate pool. This is a regional problem, not unique to Fairfield Twp. I led efforts in 2016 to restructure the pay scale to more effectively attract and retain qualified fire fighting personnel. Third, current staffing levels in our administration building are driving us to focus on the basic responsibilities. We are in the process of hiring a zoning and assistant administrator. Once fully staffed, we will have the capacity to devote more time and effort on attracting businesses and jobs to Fairfield Twp.”
Bohrofen: “ First, providing each department in Fairfield Twp. the staffing and equipment they need to do their jobs. Current conditions in the police, fire, service and administration departments require immediate action to staff and equip the people who serve our citizens with the manpower and tools they need to provide the services the residents of Fairfield Township expect and deserve. Second, jump-starting a focused effort on business development in a thoughtful, diligent, and conservative manner that fits into the long term development plan of Fairfield Twp. Our community has watched as ‘shoot from the hip’ development has left us with little room for further error. Third, returning some of the $19.49 million of taxpayer dollars sitting in cash as of Oct. 2, 2017, back into our community in the form of projects that improve the safety of our community, the value of our property, and the quality of life in Fairfield Twp.”
Bultman: With the instability of leadership over the past five years, our community has suffered in intangible ways. Vacant positions stall progress and often hinder the ability of other positions to effectively lead. While these matters are being tend to, progress of our economic development and Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) have not been given the attention necessary to be fully effective. Having a continuous revolving door of employees is costly. I believe that there has been an invisible wall placed between the administration and the employees of Fairfield Twp., which makes it easier for individuals to look for another job. No one wants to look for a job, fill out application after application or contact a recruiter.”
Hartkemeyer: “First, we need to con tinue to strengthen our financial position to safeguard our township’s future. Second, we need to continuously improve our internal operations (fire, police, service departments, zoning, administration) to ensure excellent services to our community. Third, we need to promote economic and community development.”
Q: Would you consider reversing the moratorium on medical marijuana businesses, or would you move forward with a ban?
Berding: “We currently have a moratorium concerning medical marijuana dispensaries which expires in September 2018. Until the rules are clearer, and I can understand the risk and benefit for Fairfield Twp., I will not consider reversing the current moratorium.”
Bohrofen: “ I would not consider reversing the moratorium on medical marijuana business in Fairfield Twp. I would consider a ban based upon the advice of the chief of police and township legal counsel.”
Bultman: “ Working in the medical field and having family members battle cancer I have seen the research that shows how THC can have medical benefits. However, being a year since House Bill 523 has legalized medical marijuana the state has not offered enough guidance as to how it will apply the law, issue patient identification cards and the like. Therefore, I would not be in favor of reversing the moratorium until more structure is in place to manage this program in whole.”
Hartkemeyer: “ We recently renewed the moratorium on medical marijuana. It’s still unclear as to how medical marijuana programs will be regulated and how those regulations might impact the township. In addition, based on our comprehensive plan, this type of industry would not be the highest and best usage for our land.”