Hamilton Council candidates participate in forum: What they said

Five candidates for Hamilton City Council, plus Mayor Pat Moeller, running against a write-in candidate, participated in a candidates forum Thursday. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

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Five candidates for Hamilton City Council, plus Mayor Pat Moeller, running against a write-in candidate, participated in a candidates forum Thursday. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

Two incumbents, three challengers address volunteering and leadership.

The five candidates seeking three available Hamilton City Council seats spoke Thursday at aforum organized by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. The full forum will first air Monday at 8 p.m. on Time/Warner Cable Channel 24.

Here is one of the nine questions they were asked, and their answers.

Please describe your personal involvement and volunteer engagement in organizations and causes throughout the Hamilton area in the past two to three years, and how those experiences contribute to your ability to be an effective city council member and a transformative leader.

  • Incumbent Tim Naab said he has served on boards for the YMCA. He helped with 17Strong projects, including Love Your Block efforts in recent weekends where he painted, dug bushes and cleaned up yards in specific blocks to beautify them. He also worked at the Hamilton Flea.
  • Hamilton High School teacher Joel Lauer, a challenger, said he believes he has the best career path there is, “education and coaching (football, at Badin High School).” That’s his passion, he said. He has knocked on players’ doors at 5:30 a.m. to make sure they were in the weight room by 6 a.m. He works with difficult students as a teacher. During the pandemic, he made trips to kids’ houses to support them: “I helped give them clothes, I helped put food on their table. I’ve developed those relationships. That comes natural to me.” He also took in a student whose mother was dying of cancer, and said he is committed to bettering Hamilton.
  • Challenger Danny Ivers said since graduating from Hamilton High School in 2017, he has “devoted many of my weekends and much of the free time toward Hamilton City School District’s extracurricular activities.” He has provided publicity help for the high school’s show choir and was elected to their executive board. Last year he served on the city’s Charter Review Commission and he also serves with the Ohio Army National Guard. “I just devote so much time to wherever I can to serve, because service is what it’s about.”
  • Challenger Kristina Latta-Landefeld said, “I probably gave too much of myself away.” One of her biggest compliments, she said, was when she was helping at one of Pastor Shaquila Mathews’ HYPE (Hamilton Young People Empowered) events, and Mayor Pat Moeller told her, “I see you everywhere.” “I do love my community and I try to get out wherever I can, whether it’s helping with an event, it could be something like Pride, the Dragon Boat Festival. It is serving my community through the Great Miami Rowing Center.” She also coaches rowing whenever she can. “But I also want to say that volunteering is not always formal. Sometimes, it’s a matter of what’s needed. If my alley looks like junk, I’m going to pick up the trash. If a neighbor needs help, I’m going to jump in and help where I can.”
  • Incumbent Michael Ryan said of all his committees and activities he works on, “I feel that the most impactful volunteerism that I commit to is the monthly community cleanups” in Lindenwald and other neighborhoods. “Those are impactful. It’s showing that your city council, we care about the cleanliness of that individual neighborhood. But more impactful is getting to know those residents in those particular neighborhoods. They can tell you what exactly is going on in their neighborhood so we see the issues that are affecting them every single day.” Those relationships and that engagement are “by far the most impactful part of this job.”

The five candidates are seeking three four-year terms on council that are up for election this year. At least one new council member will be elected Nov. 2, because Robert Brown recently retired. The other three council seats will be contested in two years.

Meanwhile, Moeller also participated. Moeller’s opposition is a write-in candidate, Jeffrey Neal, who did not attend the event that was held at The Benison reception and co-working center.

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