Whitehouse Voters To Select Mayor, Fill Four Council Positions

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — In a rare October 3 primary election, 19 percent of Whitehouse registered voters chose their top two candidates for mayor.

Of the four primary candidates, two will appear on the November 7 ballot.

Richard Bingham earned 285 votes and Tony Fronk 219 during the primary, edging out Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer, who earned 171 votes. Robert Crowe had 63 votes.

Profiles on the mayoral candidates previously appeared in the September 14 edition of The Mirror and are available here.

In addition to selecting a mayor this November, Whitehouse voters will choose from five candidates for the three four-year terms currently held by Conklin Kleiboemer, Mindy Curry and Bob Keogh. Council candidates include Joseph Bublick, Keogh, Dave Riggenbach, Carrie Tuohy and Larry Yunker. Steve Connelly, who was appointed to council in January after the resignation of Dennis Recker, is running unopposed to retain his seat.

The Mirror asked these candidates why they decided to run for council, their goals as a council member, the village’s priorities over the next few years and what type of skills, experience and knowledge they bring to the table.

Here are profiles of the candidates in alphabetical order: 

Joseph Bublick wants to utilize his military service and construction management experience to benefit the village.

A 1998 graduate of Anthony Wayne High School, Bublick majored in construction technology and management at Bowling Green State University. Prior to graduating in August 2003, Bublick was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officer Training Corps, Detachment 620, at BGSU. He served nine years of active duty while earning his master of management degree. He continued his service with the 180th Air National Guard for another year.

A Whitehouse resident since 2011, Bublick is a general contractor and president of his family construction company. He is also raising three boys who are students in Anthony Wayne Local Schools.

“I’ve really missed public service since leaving the military,” he said. “My boys are at a good age right now for me to be more involved and give back.”

Military service and operating a construction company give him management skills that would make him a good steward of the village, he said.

“Being a military officer meant long hours and constant problem-solving and utilizing people’s strengths to accomplish the mission,” he said. “As a general contractor, I am constantly working with budgets, timelines, government entities and customers. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is a necessity.”

As a council member, Bublick said he would like to bridge the gap that seems to be growing in Whitehouse by encouraging those who have opposing views on some issues to come together.

“I’ve always been able to communicate and garner respect from both sides of the aisle and I will do the same as a council member,” he said.

He also noted that the village appears to have some dysfunction, leading to distrust.

“The priority is getting some new folks in seats, in order to ‘break bread’ with people from all ways of thinking. The village’s top priority is regaining the trust of its people and healing from all the chaos of the past few years,” he said.

Bublick said he would like to see more economic growth in the village, including exploring the possibility of an Anthony Wayne sports complex or a dog park.

“I don’t fear Whitehouse getting too big and believe we definitely have room for some further development – making our community even greater,” he said.

The last nine months on Whitehouse Village Council have only strengthened Steve Connelly’s desire to finish out the rest of his term.

“I have several specific goals in mind,” said Connelly, who is running unopposed to retain his seat through the end of 2025.

Those goals include updating the charter to reflect the evolving needs of the community and securing a stable financial future for the village by implementing sound fiscal policies.

“I plan to play an active role in developing a comprehensive long-term plan that focuses on improving our infrastructure and services, ensuring our village is positioned for growth in the years to come,” he said. “I’m passionate about fostering stronger engagement between the council and our residents through ongoing town forums, strengthening a sense of unity and collaboration within our community.” 

In the coming years, the village is poised for an exciting phase of growth as it progresses toward obtaining city designation – when the 2030 U.S. Census is expected to show that Whitehouse has over 5,000 residents.

“One of our foremost priorities should be to ensure our financial stability with a comprehensive multiyear plan focusing on core infrastructure and services, coupled with business-friendly investments,” he said. “We also have an obligation to prioritize investments in services that hold significance to our residents and the sustainable development of our village. By aligning our goals with the aspirations of our residents and ensuring sound fiscal management, we can confidently steer our community forward.”

Connelly, who has over 20 years of experience in leadership, feels that his strong business and financial acumen will help ensure fiscal management.

“My collaborative mindset and community volunteer experience make me well-equipped to work effectively with fellow council members and address the needs and concerns of our residents,” he concluded.

Bob Keogh, who has served on council since August 2015, is seeking another term to take care of unfinished business.

“I am concerned about the financial issues down the road,” said Keogh, who has championed for a .5-percent income tax increase that is on the ballot this November. “I want to continue to build on the strong foundation built under Mayor Atkinson’s leadership. First and foremost is financial stability.”

Unfunded mandates are creating a challenge to the village and – left unchecked – the General Fund will be depleted at the end of 2025, he said.

A resident of Whitehouse for over 50 years, Keogh owns Blue Creek Financial Service LLC and previously owned a real estate agency and income tax business in town. He is involved in Waterville Rotary Club and Community of Christ Lutheran Church.

He first joined White-house government as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for 19 years.

“Having lived in Whitehouse and working downtown for over 40 years, I have a good feel for the village,” he said. “I’ve been involved in multiple community organizations that provide me with a wide array of contacts.”

Keogh was recently inducted into the Anthony Wayne Alumni Assoc-iation’s Hall of Fame for his work in the community. 

Dave Riggenbach would like to bring some continuity back to the village.

“This year has been very hard politically for our residents,” he said. “I want our residents to know that they have someone who will be here for the long term. I also want to encourage and support more of our younger demographic to get involved in supporting and growing our community. They are the future, and we need to make sure our community remains a place where they want to be.”

As a resident of Whitehouse since 2006, Riggenbach decided it was time to serve. When Whitehouse Village Council asked for applicants to fill the role vacated by Dennis Recker in December 2022, he applied. While he wasn’t appointed, Riggenbach has since stepped up to get involved: attending council and Committee of the Whole meetings to learn more about what it takes to run the village day to day. 

Riggenbach was appointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals – which hears from residents and businesses seeking variances from zoning regulations – earlier this year and is leading the Whitehouse Income Tax Committee to educate residents on the importance of passing a .5-mill income tax increase to support the General Fund.

Riggenbach has a bachelor’s degree in integrated mathematics and an MBA from Bowling Green State University, and he is a Certified Financial Planner professional running his Edward Jones office in Waterville.

“Running a business requires skills in delegation, critical thinking, listening and fiscal responsibility. I believe each of these skills are foundational for a strong council member,” he said.

Over the next few years, the priority is to ensure the safety of residents and the schools, he said.

“We have a tremendous challenge and opportunity to manage our growth. I believe we need to focus on maintaining our small-town values while working to attract the right type of business growth to move the costs of our services away from just our residents and to ensure we have the revenue needed to continue providing the best services in our village. In order to keep Whitehouse vibrant for generations to come, we need to make sure our students know they can come back as adults and have a prosperous, fulfilling life.”

Carrie Tuohy decided to run for office because she sees a need for change in the village.

“I am not a professional politician; I am just a concerned member of the village,” she said. “After many discussions with members of our community, I decided to run for council so I could be beneficial in making change happen for both the village and the people who live here.”

For 24 years, Tuohy worked for Duffey Concrete Cutting, where she was the controller and treasurer. Her responsibilities included budgets, project maintenance, taxes, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and safety procedures, training, compliance, human resources and coordinating benefits for employees. When Duffey was sold, she joined Waterville Sheet Metal as controller and office manager.

“I have run small businesses for half of my life. I have learned there is always a time of feast and time of famine. We need to prepare for both,” Tuohy said. 

As a council member, one of her goals is to focus on balancing the budget.

“This will not be an easy task and hard decisions will have to be made. These decisions need to be communicated respectfully with honesty and transparency – with enough time to receive constructive feedback,” she said. “If we are not listening to feedback, are we doing what we were elected for? At the very least, acknowledge and communicate the when, what and why.”

Another one of Tuohy’s goals is to encourage new business development. 

“The village should be an entrepreneur’s dream. We are a loyal community who desires new businesses to shop at,” she said.

“I am excited to be part of the village council and work as a team member to assist in problem-solving and creating new ideas that will be beneficial to the village as a whole,” she said. “It is our job to encourage community involvement. I am excited to see so many people running to be elected. It means people like you and I are ready to see change and do something about it. Democracy at its best.”

When Larry Yunker learned of a council decision to rescind a .75-percent income tax credit given to residents who work and pay income taxes outside the village, he took action.

“I headed up the effort to get a referendum on the ballot so that Whitehouse residents could choose whether or not to keep their income tax credit,” he said.

That referendum passed in November 2022, and the income tax credit remains. In the process, Yunker attended council meetings and came to the conclusion that Whitehouse voters need new representation.

“Many of the current representatives were unwilling to listen to the public’s views,” he said.

Getting the public more informed and involved with Whitehouse’s government is a top priority.

“I want the citizens to have a voice and truly be heard by their elected officials and administration,” he said.

Another goal is to work at bringing new commercial growth to the community, so the village doesn’t need to rely so heavily on residents for operating revenue.

“Establishing sustainable revenue streams to maintain village services must be the first priority,” he said. “We also need to look at what happens when the village becomes a city.”

Yunker plans to look at what types of new services residents want from their government as well.

A licensed attorney, Yunker had an opportunity while in law school to clerk for the Whitehouse solicitor, so he became familiar with the operations. He has served as a volunteer with the Whitehouse Fire Department for over 15 years and has gotten to know many of the people within the village’s administration and staff. 

In addition, Yunker has assisted with writing grants for both the police and fire departments – bringing in more than $750,000 in grant funds to the village.

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