Election 2021: Fairfield voters will choose a new mayor

Former City Council members Pennington and Rhodus will square off to take city’s top job.

Fairfield City Council will have two new and two familiar faces next year.

The two new faces and one of the familiar faces will be the new at-large members of Fairfield City Council in an uncontested race for three seats. Newcomers Gwen Brill and Matt Davidson and former council member Tim Meyers will join Fairfield’s new mayor at the start of the new year, who also will be a familiar face.

However, voters will need to decide in the Nov. 2 election which former Fairfield City Council member will be the city’s next mayor: Debbie Pennington or Mitch Rhodus.

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Fairfield mayor candidate Mitch Rhodus
Fairfield mayor candidate Mitch Rhodus

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Fairfield mayoral candidate Debbie Pennington
Fairfield mayoral candidate Debbie Pennington

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

Both mayoral candidates have similar platforms and goals ― they want to focus on property values and economic development ― so voters will need to decide who they believe will do a better job. Pennington, who’s been a real estate agent in Fairfield for dozens of years, or Rhodus, who’s spent a professional career in sales and promotions.

While their professional resumes differ, the local government resumes are similar. Pennington and Rhodus both served two terms as the city’s third-ward representative for two terms ― Pennington elected in 2011 and 2015 and Rhodus elected in 2003 and 2007 ― and have served on multiple Fairfield committees. Pennington served on the Board of Zoning Appeals, Charter Review Commission and Parks Board and Rhodus served on Planning Commission and Parks Board.

One of the big issues for both will be protecting people’s property.

Pennington, a lifelong Butler County resident and a real estate agent, said “property values are so important,” and it’s one of the reasons she’s been involved.

For Rhodus, property and home maintenance issues are some of the keys to Fairfield’s success, specifically helping to “keep property values up.”

Both also said they will work with the city’s Development Services Department when it comes to economic development. Pennington and Rhodus both want to see more casual dining restaurants and avoid oversaturating the city with fast-food restaurants.

Rhodus said he has “the ability to close deals” when it comes to bringing new restaurants to the city.

“I’m going to highlight better restaurants,” said Rhodus. “I’m going to meet with our economic development department and we’re going to work on meeting with better restaurant chains, getting them into the city.”

Pennington said she also can encourage businesses to relocate to Fairfield, but she also said she wants to continue Mayor Steve Miller’s efforts in promoting current local businesses.

“I want to also emphasize the importance of buying local, but I’d like to seek out new businesses and restaurants,” she said.

Pennington, though, said one of the most immediate needs for City Council is the city manager search, which has been paused twice in 2021, this second time in August so the unopposed City Council candidates will have a say in who will lead the city’s administration.

Rhodus said it’s his next chance to support the city he’s lived in for his entire life.

“It’s important for me that we keep this city safe, and we keep it prosperous,” Rhodus said. “I was raised about giving back, whether it was Little League baseball or Boy Scouts, and now that I will be semi-retired, this will be my next opportunity to give back to Fairfield.”

ELECTION 2021: What to know

What’s on the ballot: Local offices for city and village councils, township boards of trustees, school boards, as well as local tax issues. Before you head to the polls, view a sample ballot in your precinct at elections.bcohio.gov.

Request a ballot: Request a ballot to be mailed to your home by downloading the form at VoteOhio.gov, or visit the Butler County Board of Elections. You can also make your own request form.

In-office early voting hours: Butler County residents can vote at the Butler County Board of Elections, 1802 Princeton Road, Hamilton now through Oct. 8, Oct. 12-15 and 18-22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Oct. 25-29 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Oct. 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Oct. 31 from 1 to 5 p.m.; and Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Vote by mail: Any vote-by-mail ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 1, or they can be dropped off at the Butler County Board of Elections by 7:30 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 2

Election Day: Voting on Nov. 2 is from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at designated polling locations. Find your polling location online at VoteOhio.gov