1st Ward candidates from different walks of life

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A mechanic, a lawyer, a musician and a preacher’s son walk into a room to figure out which one will replace a florist.

It might sound like the setup to a bad joke, but there are not likely to be any punchlines when City Council interviews candidates to fill the vacant 1st Ward seat Tuesday, May 18.

Gary Barge, Tom Allen, Rob Hoffman and Jason Jones are set to come before the council following this week’s regular meeting, fielding questions from the council in an effort to snag the open chair.

The seat was left vacant in March, when Councilman Jim Armbruster, owner of Armbruster Florist, died as a result of heart-related complications. Since Armbruster was re-elected last November, council’s appointee would fill the unexpired term until November 2011. At that point, voters will elect someone to fill the remaining two years of the seat’s four-year term.

Barge touts his experiences serving on the city’s park board and tree commission, arguing “many of the ideas he campaigned on in 2007 and 2009 are now taking place in the city.”

Allen said he does not have a specific political agenda, though he would like to see Middletown become more business friendly.

Hoffman said he is not a politician and never will be, but said he would like to bring “kind of out-of-the-box” solutions to see what could be done differently to help revive Middletown.

Jones’ college roots in history and political science inspired a desire to get involved in government, hopefully “helping Middletown continue to turn the proverbial corner.”

City Council will allow each candidate to make a brief statement to kick off the interview process during Tuesday’s meeting, followed by at least one question from each council member.

The regularly scheduled Middletown Public Housing Agency meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Middletown City Building, One Donham Plaza, followed by the 6 p.m. City Council meeting.

Contact this reporter at (513) 705-2871 or at rgauthier@coxohio.com.