On Tuesday, November 7th, island voters will go to the polls in this years Put-in-Bay Election of various island officials. Most races are uncontested and have an equal number of candidates for the number of seats up for election. There is one exception, the Put-in-Bay Election of two Put-in-Bay Township Trustee seats which has four candidates. The Put-in-Bay Gazette submitted a list of questions for each Put-in-Bay Township trustee candidate to answer. Here are their answers in a randomly selected order:
Put-in-Bay Election Candidate MATT MILLER
1) What is your history of public service and community involvement on the islands? – I served seven years on Put-in-Bay Village Council and 20 years as Put-in-Bay Township Trustee, of which I am still currently on the board.
2) What do you feel were your most important accomplishments while serving? – During my tenure with both the village and township, I worked on procuring a new Put-in-Bay water tower and sewer plant, bike path, updated EMS and Fire Services, spearheaded a township-wide recycling program, established many contacts with state and county agencies which resulted in benefits to the island, created road and shore preservation to include seawalls, safety improvements, (i.e. guardrails, signage, etc.) and extended water and sewer lines into the township
3) Where do you stand when it comes to the “One island, one government issue?” As a Put-in-Bay Township Trustee representing all the people in the township, I would want to make sure that all the township islands are included in this discussion. Since the township encompasses the other islands, I feel a study must be done in both the township and the village to evaluate the positives and negatives of such a proposal. Secondly, all the residents of all the islands should be allowed to weigh in. To my knowledge, this has not been done yet. After this is completed, all governments must get together and discuss/evaluate this proposal to be considered in a Put-in-Bay Election.
4) Where do you stand on the purchase of additional island properties for preservation and conservation? – My view on land preservation and conservation is that a land use plan should be adopted by the preservation/conservation parties, so it can work in conjunction with the township land use plan and zoning.
5) If you were to be elected, what are the top five issues you would want to tackle? – 1) Continue updating safety service agencies on all the islands, 2) Work to control costs to make the islands affordable for everyone, 3) Work to make the islands as family friendly as possible, 4) Work to improve the Put-in-Bay Senior Center and the services, 5) Work to make sewer and water affordable to areas where it is not yet available.
Put-in-Bay Election Candidate ERIC ENGEL
1. What is your history of public service and community on the islands? – Volunteer Fire Department, Zoning Inspector, Zoning Commission and Port Authority Chairman.
2. What do you feel were your most important accomplishments while serving? – While serving on the Zoning Commision
and as Zoning Inspector, I built relationships and became knowledgeable of the workings of multiple Ottawa County Agencies, including Regional Planning, Health Department, and Building Department. Sharing that knowledge with property owners helped bring more owners into compliance with zoning and building regulations. While serving on the Port Authority, and as Chairman, I worked diligently on retiring the debt to the county and Put-In-Bay Township. The board was able to reduce the tax millage and allow for future reductions. I prioritized buoys off Ballast Island which will provide safer passage for years to come. The new taxiway on the south side of the runway at Put-in-Bay Airport was built without using ANY local tax money.
Our board had meetings with ODOT, ODNR, Put-in-Bay trustees to secure funding to repair the North Bass dock. The new public use hangar will allow us to bring the Ford Trimotor back to SBI for tours and facilitate increased revenue. The country concert and road races generated nearly $60,000 in revenue to support our three airports. The venue also generated 4 to 5 million dollars to Ottawa County economic development.
3. Where do you stand when it comes to the “One island, one government” issue? – I believe that the separate government entities allow for a system of checks and balances, as well as the opportunity for working together and creating opportunities for funding from multiple sources to provide the best and most needed resources for the three islands.
4. Where do you stand on the purchase of additional island properties for preservation and conservation? – I have learned in my years of service and recognize that the tax base can be balanced with growth and preserving the green space that is necessary for our community to continue to thrive environmentally and financially while preserving the integrity of the island for generations to come.
5. If you were to be elected, what are the top five issues you would want to tackle? – I have proven my ability to work with multiple groups and government agencies. I feel I could be an asset to the Bass
Island Community tackling these issues:
• Increasing funding available through Ottawa County Commissioners for township road maintenance and
• Securing state and federal funding to continue the water and sewer
• Building upon the rapport built with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department during the Country Concert,
for continued support during the tourist season
• Twice yearly summits offering a platform for residents, businesses, township and village government to
come together and share ideas.
• Preserving the islands as a place we all want to live and be proud to call home.
Put-in-Bay Election Candidate GREG AUGER
1. I have served on the Put in Bay Township Board of Zoning Appeals for approximately twenty years and have
been the Chairman for the Board for the past fifteen years. I also coached our islands little league teams for over fifteen years. I recently completed my EMT training and am looking forward to serving the islands this winter.
2. While serving as Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, I believe that I helped guide the Board towards greater fairness and consistency in its decision making. I also worked with the Ottawa County Prosecutors office to correct the Board’s public hearing procedures so as to be sure the Board’s decisions held up in Ottawa County Appeals Court. Coaching the kids from the islands was certainly the most rewarding of my community services.
3. The issue of “One island, one government” is one that needs to be fully researched in a non-biased fashion. Without a doubt, there are both pros and cons for all the islands of the Township if a change is made to South Bass. I think the ramifications of such a change need to be explored and discussed in an open forum so an informed decision can be made. Too often I have seen “alternative facts” circulated when controversial issues like this come up.
4. As a builder, I would like to see a continuation of controlled development on the islands. However, I did move to the islands because of the natural beauty of the area and feel it is only right to preserve and maintain certain areas of green space and natural habitat. My goal would be to achieve a balance that allows development, which helps increase our tax base, while also preserving certain areas so as to maintain the natural setting of our islands.
My top five issues would be:
1. Work from the Trustee level to enforce zoning and prosecute violators and provide Zoning Inspector, Zoning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals all the assistance they need to enforce zoning on the islands.
2. I feel that the Township needs to have a greater in the direction of the Police Department Since the Township funds a portion of the police budget I believe they should have a seat at the table when the Village selects a police chief and holds public safety meetings.
3. South Bass Island is still under the 2009 Findings and Orders from the Ohio EPA which puts a restriction on many buildable lots from having on-site septic systems. This Findings and Orders is an agreement that was reached between the Ottawa County Board of Health, The Ottawa County Commissioners and the Ohio EPA with input from the Township Trustees after the water issue of 2009. The Ohio EPA usually lifts Findings and Orders after an issue has been cleared up but in this case, the order has never been lifted and to this date puts an undue hardship on a considerable amount of property owners on South Bass Island. I will work to have the Findings and Orders lifted so that the residence of South Bass will be under the same Health Department rules as the rest of Ottawa County instead of our own set of more restrictive rules.
5. I would like to be part of the research team that performs the fact-finding for the one island, one government issue.
Put-in-Bay Election Candidate DAVID BIANCHI
Put-in-Bay has always been my home and I have a long history of public service. I joined the Put-in-Bay VFD in 1971 and have been a member ever since. I was in the first First Responder class when Bruce Mettler started the Put-in-Bay EMS and went on to be a state certified EMT-A for 12 years. I served on the Township Zoning Board for many years, I believe it was about 10, and I served on the Board of Education for eight years, three as President. I have also helped with Easter Egg Hunts, New Year’s Dances, Harvest Dinners and more.
I am proud and pleased to be able to give back to our community that has given me and my family so much. I believe that through my service I have helped make Put-in-Bay safer, to ease or adopt zoning regulations to fit our unique situation, improve our school facilities and library and provide more educational options for our students, and even helped save a few lives, most recently through an ice rescue. “One Island, One Government” is a catchy slogan but I think it makes a very complex idea seem simple. Richard Gump had an interesting take on this, “One Island, No Government.” I also like “Don’t Give Up The (Town) Ship.” We actually have Federal, State, County, Township, and Village governments here on the islands. They each provide some benefits and create some burdens. The better we can make them work together, the better off we all will be.
I am not concerned about property acquisition by conservation groups diminishing the property available for development and the subsequent taxability of the property. As I look around I see plenty of privately held land that is still undeveloped including residential building lots. Conservancy land is usually purchased with money raised for that purpose by dedicated volunteers and then set aside for the public to enjoy. I do feel that our government entities using tax money should only be acquiring additional land when it is essential or with the direct approval of the voters. I am running for office because I think I can be a positive influence on the future of our islands. I do not have a personal agenda or checklist of items that I am seeking to put forward. I would like to make sure we communicate well with the island people, manage their money and resources efficiently, and make informed decisions as best we can with the interest of the residents of Put-in-Bay Township as our compass
This Put-in-Bay Election will be held on November 7th at the Put-in-Bay Senior Center. If you are unable to be present for this Put-in-Bay Election you may cast your ballot early via an absentee ballot at the Ottawa County Board of Elections.