Growth, related issues dominate race for West Chester Twp. trustee

A recent forum - shown online - included three candidates seeking two open seats on the board of trustees of West Chester Twp. and talk of business development dominated the discussion. The township is one of the most populous in Ohio and in recent years has been lauded by some national publications as one of the nation's most desirable communities in which to live. (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)
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A recent forum - shown online - included three candidates seeking two open seats on the board of trustees of West Chester Twp. and talk of business development dominated the discussion. The township is one of the most populous in Ohio and in recent years has been lauded by some national publications as one of the nation's most desirable communities in which to live. (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)

The coming years’ direction of West Chester Twp.’s continued growth and how that materializes was the main topic among three township trustee candidates during a recent political forum.

The three office seekers participated in an online forum sponsored by the West Chester and Liberty Chamber Alliance, the Lakota District Parent Council and Miami University with the help of Miami Professor John Forren acting as moderator.

West Chester is one of the largest and fastest growing townships in Ohio and in recent years has been recognized periodically by a number of national organizations as one the highest quality communities in the nation, most recently in 2018.

Trent Emeneker said, “I deeply care about my community and making it a better place.”

“I’m a fiscal conservative,” said Emeneker, who works as a business consultant. And I decided to run for trustee because West Chester needs a vision for the next 20 years.”

“I’m the youngest person running and that means I bring a different perspective. When we are trying to bring that magic outcome, we need all the different perspectives from different ages, different backgrounds, different experiences because that is how we can be most effective,” he said.

Incumbent Trustee Mark Welch said the key the township’s future is for leadership to stay mindful of the township’s core strategies that helped it achieve statewide and national acclaim as a desirable place to live.

“I’m a conservative with a proven track record,” said Welch, who is a small business owner in the township. “And West Chester is not only doing great but we are thriving under the current leadership.”

The township’s tax base, he said, is about 60 percent residential and 40 percent business tax revenue, relieving homeowners of some of the local government tax burden experienced by other, less commercially developed townships.

ExploreGiant $250 million mixed-use development coming to West Chester Twp.

“As we go forward it’s important that we continue to drive (for more) jobs and more businesses. We have a very diverse business community that shields us from a recession. Let’s keep a good thing going,” he said, adding the township’s future depends on it not becoming a city, losing it’s freedom from any city income or earnings tax burden for residents.

Incumber Lee Wong echoed Welsh’s point in opposing the idea of transforming West Chester into a city.

“I like basic, simple township government and not a city. I will always be honest, serve this board with integrity and listen to the people,” said Wong.

“We are a premier township and we have businesses with more than $3 billion in valuation. For the last 16 years we have been doing very well at that (business development),” he said.

“All these businesses are just like a high tide and it floats all boats. West Chester is the cash cow” for all of Butler County, said Wong.

To watch the full online forum for Liberty and West Chester trustee candidates go to the West Chester and Liberty Chamber Alliance’s website.

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