BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — A candidate forum next week will give Maumee voters an opportunity to hear from the eight individuals vying for an open seat on Maumee City Council as well as the two candidates running for mayor.
The event, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Toledo-Lucas County, the Maumee Chamber of Com-merce, the Maumee Uptown Business Association and The Mirror Newspaper, will take place on Thursday, August 29 at the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant St., from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
It will feature mayoral candidates Richard Carr and John Jezak and those running for council, including Gabe Barrow, Jon Fiscus, Carrie Hartman, David Kissinger, Jim MacDonald, Scott Noonan, Lou Thomson and Gillian Wilke.
This year, there are three council seats and the mayor’s seat up for election. Incumbent council members Scott Noonan, John Boellner and David Kissinger have expiring seats and Maumee Mayor Richard Carr’s term in office is also expiring. Council member Boellner is not seeking another term in office.
In accordance with the Maumee city charter, a primary election is needed because the number of candidates for council is more than double the number of seats open. The primary election will take place on Tuesday, September 10. The top six vote-getters will then advance to the general election on Tuesday, November 5. A second candidate forum will take place in late October.
For next week’s event, a moderator from the League of Women Voters of Toledo-Lucas County will ask the candidates questions and each will have up to one minute to respond. In addition, each candidate will be allowed a one-minute opening and closing statement.
Candidates will be asked questions that have been submitted by members of the community. The candidates were not given questions in advance of the forum.
Council candidates will speak first, from 7:00 to 7:45 p.m., and the mayoral candidates will speak from 8:00 to 8:45 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
The following is a brief overview of each candidate seeking public office:
Gabe Barrow, 63, is a Republican who is seeking his first term on Maumee City Council.
Barrow believes that the deep partisan divide facing council needs to be addressed and removed.
“Over the past year and a half too many votes have been 4 to 3 along party lines. That was never the case in the past,” he said. “Items have been railroaded through with little or no consideration for the immediate or long term effects.
If Barrow is elected, he will cast his vote based on what is best for Maumee.
“I would consider what the long term effects are, if it makes good fiduciary sense and if can the city afford it or not,” he said.
The more Barrow attends council meetings, the more he wants to get involved. To him, a council consisting of Republicans, Democrats and Independents should be less focused on political affiliation and more focused on the betterment of the citizens of Maumee.
Barrow has lived in Maumee for over 20 years. He works at his family business, Barrow’s Jewelers.
“For me it’s about the betterment of Maumee health and welfare and not about the politics,” he said.
Jonathan Fiscus, 37, is seeking his first term on Maumee City Council.
Running as an Indepen-dent candidate, Fiscus will work to address unresolved ethics questions.
“We need to make sure that all elected officials and city employees are following Ohio’s Public Records and Open Meetings Act to ensure that there is not even the appearance of impropriety,” Fiscus said. “If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that partisan squabbling serves no purpose but to further divide us as a community and prevent true progress within our city.”
Some top priorities for city leaders are the need to create and implement a comprehensive plan, successfully hiring a city administrator and completing Sunshine Law training, he added.
A 2000 graduate of Maumee High School, Fiscus has always felt strongly connected to the community. In high school, he was a member of the Maumee Marching Pride and later returned as a volunteer with the marching band, indoor drum line and concert band.
He attended Bowling Green State University and Owens Community College and currently works as a journeyman electrician.
Fiscus believes that above all else, the people of Maumee deserve a government they can trust to act in the best interest of the people they serve in the most transparent way possible.
“Now is the time to set the bar high to attain the highest level of ethical behavior possible.”
Carrie Hartman, 36, is a Democrat seeking her first term on Maumee City Council.
Hartman earned her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University. After college, she worked for several women’s organizations in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. In 2009, she moved to the Toledo area to attend law school at The University of Toledo.
She currently serves as project manager for the city of Toledo. She and her husband Stephen have lived in Maumee for the past four years.
As an elected member of Maumee City Council, Hartman said she will focus on serving the residents and business owners in Maumee and creating the best possible environment in which to thrive.
“I value sustainable, family-focused neighborhoods. As Maumee moves forward, we need to be strategic when expanding and growing,” she said. “I support policies that will help develop livable neighborhoods in Maumee where residents can live, work and play.”
David Kissinger, 47, is running as an Independent for re-election to the Maumee City Council seat he won in 2015.
Kissinger has focused his efforts on enhancing the uptown area and making local government work for residents and business owners in Maumee.
“I have fought for the rights of citizens to be heard and demanded that government provide the services that the citizens deserve in an efficient and cost-effective manner,” he said.
Kissinger is a registered nurse who holds degrees from Monroe County Community College and Vincennes University. He currently works as the director of nursing at Waterville Healthcare.
He believes in values that go far beyond one political party or another, including standing up for those who do not have a voice, standing up for those who do not have power and standing up for those who deserve respect.
“These are the values that I see each and every day in our great city and these are the values that I work each and every day to support, protect and defend in Maumee,” he said.
Jim MacDonald, 61, is running as an Independent candidate in his first bid for a seat on Maumee City Council.
Last November, Mac-Donald retired from the city after serving nearly 30 years with the Maumee Police Division. He rose through the ranks and performed in many capacities, including as chief, a position to which he was named in 2013.
MacDonald attended The University of Toledo and received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration. He also graduated from the Police Executive Leadership College.
He was named the 2018 Maumee Outstanding Citizen during this year’s Hometown Hero Awards ceremony.
“I believe my leadership and knowledge of our community issues are an excellent fit for serving on city council,” he said. “I have extensive local experience in policy implementation, contract negotiations, economic issues, budgeting and community engagement with our residents, businesses and the school system.”
Scott Noonan, 32, is a Democrat seeking election to his first full term in office after being asked to fill the seat vacated by former council member Dan Hazard in 2017.
He stepped into the role with three goals in mind: expand jobs for individuals with disabilities, enhance uptown green space and bring back unlimited garbage pickup service for residents.
“I’m the type of elected official that will volunteer for things. I’m not above people in the community, I am with them,” he said. “I will always do what I can to help people and I know that I cannot please everybody, but I am always willing to sit down and discuss an issue, so even if we disagree, we can do so respectfully.”
Noonan attended Miami University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history. The Miami University Alumni Association also recently named him one of 18 exceptional alumni over the past nine years. He works as the AFL-CIO labor engagement liaison for United Way of Greater Toledo.
Lou “Bud” Thomson
Lou “Bud” Thomson, 64, is seeking a first term on Maumee City Council. Running as a Republican, this will be his second official attempt at an open seat, having run in the 2017 general election.
Thomson has over 40 years of extensive experience in business operations, senior management, budgeting and planning, customer service, sales and information technology.
He is focused on issues that include finding a safe, clean, reliable source of water; balancing the budget with current tax collections; continuing support for city services and attracting new business with strong economic growth policies.
He is associated with several community organizations and he serves on the Maumee Civil Service Commission.
“With my background, experience and education, along with my exposure to city of Maumee government, I know I can hit the ground running if elected,” he said. “I believe that I can accomplish this by being a voice on council for the citizens of Maumee. To me, this means listening to their concerns, applying knowledge and my experience judiciously to act with the utmost integrity in addressing them.”
Gillian Wilke, 37, is making her first bid for an open seat on council. She is running as an Independent, but aligns with the Democratic Party.
She plans to focus on addressing the concerns voiced by people she has met with, including questions about infrastructure such as the sewer system and sidewalks. She is also concerned about the proposed future development of the Lucas County Recreation Center property.
“I think that either improving that location to its grandeur or demolishing it and repurposing it would be best, but either way, it would be very nice to see something happen there,” she said.
Wilke attended The University of Toledo, where she received a bachelor of science in environmental science. She currently works as a Lucas County health inspector.
Wilke favors the effort to create a comprehensive master plan, and believes there are many assets the city can build upon.
“I love Side Cut Metropark and its proximity to the Maumee River. It’s a great place to walk my dog, watch wildlife and just relax in nature. As a single woman, I feel very safe in Maumee. I know the police and firefighters are dedicated to their jobs and I appreciate that peace of mind their service brings.”
Incumbent Mayor Richard Carr will face challenger John Jezak in the November 5 General Election. The following is a summary of each candidate:
Richard Carr, 62, a Republican, has had a long career in elected office in Maumee. In 2012, he was appointed mayor after serving on Maumee City Council for 14 years, including eight years as president. In 2015, he ran unopposed to retain his seat.
Issues such as water –securing the best source for Maumee residents – along with potential changes in dispatch services, have motivated Carr to seek one last term in office.
“I didn’t want to walk away with these major issues,” he said. “I feel a responsibility to finish it.”
For the past four years, Carr has worked closely with other suburban mayors to secure a new regional water agreement with Toledo. He also led efforts to study the feasibility of procuring water from either Bowling Green or the Michindoh Aquifer. The issue still remains unsettled, although Toledo has reported it will reach a deal with the suburbs.
Carr has also been meeting with Lucas County officials who would like to create one countywide dispatching center, which would mean that Maumee’s dispatching department would be eliminated and the dispatchers would be relocated to a new centralized center in downtown Toledo. Carr does not support that idea.
Carr is a lifelong resident of Maumee and a 1975 graduate of Maumee High School. He received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from The University of Toledo and received his doctor of jurisprudence from The University of Toledo College of Law.
He was named Maumee’s Outstanding Citizen in 1999 and a Maumee High School Distinguished Alumnus in 2013. Carr twice earned Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award for community service and was named an Ohio Bar Association Fellow in recognition of outstanding attorneys in the state of Ohio.
As mayor, Carr is proud of his financial record, citing the operating budget, which moved from a $7.6 deficit standing before he became mayor to having a surplus after he took over the job. He attributes that financial success to reducing spending while keeping taxes in check and maintaining the same level of services that Maumee residents have come to know and expect.
“This is what I believe our residents expect of their government. I have announced my candidacy for re-election to the office of mayor to continue operating our city in a financially sound manner, continue to keep our city safe and clean, and continue to provide the services our residents expect without increasing taxes,” he said.
John Jezak, 57, kicked off his campaign for mayor in June at the Maumee Indoor Theater.
The location seemed appropriate since he was instrumental in garnering grant funds to refurbish the theater when it had fallen into ruin in the late 1990s. At the time, Jezak was serving as the city administrator and safety director, a position he held for nearly 20 years until his retirement in May.
A movement calling for change has prompted Jezak’s mayoral run.
“While I might be the candidate, I am merely the instrument or just the front man for the campaign for mayor,” said Jezak. “A lot of people want change, and in that regard, I am only the face of the movement itself. This is a group effort.”
He is running as an Inde-pendent candidate because he has friends in both parties and believes that while both embrace good ideas, being Independent does not make him obligated to embrace or support an idea, plan or candidate because of one particular party.
Jezak believes that having uncontested races, unanimous votes or candidates who continue to get elected without being challenged leads to the diminished competition of new ideas and the decline of democracy itself.
“We can’t send troops to foreign shores to fight for democracy only to lose it on Main Street, USA,” he said.
Jezak grew up in Maumee and holds a bachelor of arts degree from The University of Toledo. Prior to working in Maumee, he worked in Blissfield, Mich., and Springfield Township. Throughout his tenure, he oversaw countless grant application initiatives and economic development projects. He is also proud of the proposed Monnette’s Market in uptown Maumee, which he supported. When it was initially proposed, the plan divided council and showed clear differences between elected officials.
“That was a project I felt very strongly about and my opponent felt very strongly about it, as well – he didn’t want to see it here,” said Jezak.
Having a fresh produce specialty market in uptown Maumee will generate additional tax revenue for the city and school district, take the burden of maintaining property off of the city service department and create jobs, Jezak said.
“By far, the biggest beneficiary of the Monnette’s project is that it is a quality-of-life feature,” said Jezak. “Having a local grocer in old downtown is like the holy grail of modern development.”