Hamilton council candidates talk about their priorities at Hamilton chamber forum

Candidates for Hamilton City Council were all present, eight of them seeking three seats, at a candidates’ forum Wednesday that was sponsored by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
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Candidates for Hamilton City Council were all present, eight of them seeking three seats, at a candidates’ forum Wednesday that was sponsored by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

Some Hamilton City Council candidates said better communication with citizens is a priority if they’re elected, and others said there’s a need for more police, firefighters and street repairs.

The eight candidates seeking one of the three seats for Hamilton City Council debated at a forum Thursday evening at the Miami University Downtown Center presented by the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

When asked their top priority as a council member, their answers varied.

RELATED: Ivers, now 20, seeks to become youngest to serve on Hamilton City Council

“Making sure the citizens are heard,” said challenger Danny Ivers, adding that it’s important to communicate with citizens using various methods.

“We need to hear and gather their opinions when there is an incident that provokes apprehension,” or when there is a decision city council will be making, he said.

Challenger Eric Pohlman said his primary focus “is to collaborate with the fellow council members and city manager to implement the steps necessary to create a shared vision of the city. I feel we’re at the crossroads right now to greatness.”

RELATED: Businessman Eric Pohlman running for Hamilton Council

Councilmember Carla Fiehrer is one of two incumbents seeking re-election. She said she believes there are two pressing issues “that go hand-in-hand.”

“Our neighborhoods are the cornerstone of our community, and the 17Strong initiative was designed to help strengthen these neighborhoods, to make them more stable, safe and productive,” she said.

The other incumbent, Councilmember Matt Von Stein, said his top goal is economic development.

“We have to maintain our focus on bringing new business in, and help the businesses that are already established,” he said. “Hamilton was at its best when we had good-paying jobs with benefits, good blue-collar jobs.”

Others on Thursday responded:

• Challenger Jason Snyder: “It needs to start with reinforcing our streets, our police and our fire. And I feel we need to be re-investing back into ourselves, which has kind-of been lost over the last 10 years.”

Explore RELATED: Snyder, Recent Citizen of the Year running for City Council

• Challenger Casey Hume: “It’s great to invest in the future and look toward the future. We all do. But you’ve got to take care of your needs that are right in front of you first, and that is public safety, and that is infrastructure. Our roads are crumbling. Well, it’s a lot easier to get a business to come in with a good roadway.”

Explore RELATED: Casey Hume, candidate for Hamilton City Council: ‘I’m not a politician’

• Challenger Archie Johnson: “My number one priority is to develop relationships with our citizens and bring about a different level of transparency as relates to our city council. I want to restore any hope that may have been lost along the way as it relates to our city council, and to provide a voice to those who feel like they have no voice.”

Explore RELATED: Johnson seeking to rejoin Hamilton City Council

• Challenger Susan Vaughn: “My number one priority would be to actively engage with the residents in our communities. I’ll do this through committee work, volunteer service, working collaboratively with city leaders, other members of city council, on strategic goals for the city, and be accountable to the residents. This will be my full-time job.”

Explore RELATED: Susan Vaughn, former Miami University official, running for council

The forum aired live on TvHamilton, which can be seen on Channel 24 on Spectrum Cable in Hamilton. It also will be shown at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Other times in the following days include: Thursday at 3:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 7:05 a.m. and 7:05 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and 9:35 p.m.

Candidates were asked nine questions, eight of which they knew in advance and could prepare for — some reading their answers. They also gave opening and closing statements.

The one question not provided ahead of time asked the candidates about their involvement with the city of Hamilton, including the committees they serve on, volunteerism and other ways they stay involved.

Here were some highlights of what candidates said:

Answering the question about challenges to the city, Johnson said, “We have a Diversity and Inclusion Commission, which is by ordinance, and they have not met in months, which means that we are not getting information we need to promote our city, and to broaden our workforce. Because if our leaders are not meeting, and the people that are supposed to give us the information, are not meeting, then the job will never be done.”

Hume said as a way to raise money for more police, firefighters, street repairs and community programs, “I would be in favor of a tourist tax, an additional sales tax, at Spooky Nook, and at the hotels (similar to what is done at Liberty Center).”

Snyder, who founded the Operation Pumpkin festival that’s happening this weekend in Hamilton, and noted he empties the trash containers during the festival, said, “It’s time to vote for who’s actually going to get the job done.”

Ivers, 20, said he would bring a fresh perspective to city government because of his age.

Pohlman, who recently retired from his auto-repair business, said he was a financially responsible business owner who now serves as a consultant and coach to other businesses.

All said they supported Spooky Nook and the other economic development projects happening now. Pohlman said it’s nice to have more restaurants to eat in within Hamilton these days. Vaughn said she once wondered who would want to live in Hamilton’s downtown, and is pleased so many now have chosen to do so.

Hume said there are too few activities for people under age 21. The city now has spray parks, but not swimming pools. He said he doesn’t know many 16-year-olds who want to “run through sprinklers.”

Von Stein said the city has new energy, with dozens of businesses opening. It’s important for people to “shop local,” he said.


LEARN MORE

The forum will appear again on TvHamilton, which can be seen on Channel 24 on Spectrum Cable in Hamilton. It will air at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Other times in the following days include Thursday at 3:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 7:05 a.m. and 7:05 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and 9:35 p.m.

Also, the Journal-News has a voters' guide that has council candidates' answers to questions posed to them. It is at Journal-News.com/voterguide.