Henry, Walriven and Walriven Jr. are no shows
By Megan Alley
Residents of the village of New Richmond heard from village council candidates at a forum on Oct. 12 at the New Richmond Elementary School.
Four council seats are up for election this Nov. 7.
The moderated discussion, hosted by the League of Women Voters Clermont County, asked for input on issues and concerns facing the village from candidates Mary Allen (incumbent), Minta Colvin, Amanda Davidson (incumbent), Karey Herrin, Gary Skeene (incumbent) and Melanie Slade.
Candidates Rodney Henry (incumbent), Darren Walriven and Raymond Walriven Jr. did not participate in the forum.
The candidates introduced themselves, stated why they are running for office, mingled with attendees and answered questions from the audience.
Allen, who has served as the vice mayor since 2016 and sits on a number of committees, including the village’s economic development committee, said if she’s reelected, she’ll continue to “effectively work with other members of council and citizens.”
“I will also continue to work on economic development projects that drive change, that make New Richmond’s economy grow so we can maintain or expand services,” she added. “I love this town, I love the people, I like the small-town charm.”
Colvin, who was the former longtime village assistant administrator, said she decided to run for council so that she could give back to the community.
“I figure you get more bang for less buck this time around,” she quipped. “I have a lot of experience, knowledge and skills to bring to the table.”
Davidson said that she brings her skills in efficiencies to the council.
“We try to be efficient in everything that we do in the village,” she added.
Herrin, Colvin’s daughter, said she decided to run for council to be a “voice for the youth.”
She added, “New Richmond is my home, and I’d like to give back.”
Skeene, who is part of the New Richmond Riverfest, Inc. committee that organizes the River Days Festival, said he wants to encourage people to move to New Richmond.
“I think we do have a lot of projects going and a lot of ideas on the table that need to be fulfilled, and need people who have been around for awhile, like myself, who know what’s going on and can handle the situation,” he said.
Skeene noted that one of the village’s biggest problems is retaining its police, fire and emergency services personnel.
“They keep going somewhere else to make a little more money,” he explained.
Slade explained how being a longtime resident has inspired her to run for council.
“The past 22 years of living here and raising my children, I’ve watched how things have slowly changed, some for the better and some for the worse, and therefore I felt the need to become part of the decision-making process of what happens in this town,” she said.
“What is the biggest challenge that faces New Richmond?” was the first question asked, to which all the candidates responded “finances.”
Then, the candidates were asked how they would deal with the village’s “troubled,” blighted and vacant properties.
Skeene responded, “You have to be tougher on landlords and residents; you need tougher enforcement of the laws.”
Slade agreed with Skeene, stating that the village needs to enforce the laws that are in place.
Allen pointed to the fact that village recently hired a new zoning administrator, who she said has a little more aggressive approach than the last person in the position.
“Since she has been in her role, we have seen some improvement,” Allen added. “I do think we have sufficient ordinances on the books, we just have to enforce them. The unfortunate thing is, you can’t legislate pride.”
The candidates were then asked about their positions on keeping the village’s police, fire and emergency services intact, rather than outsourcing the roles to other agencies.
Skeene, Slade, Allen and Davidson all agreed that they wanted to keep the services intact and local.
Herrin and Colvin said they would instead look at making cuts within the department and reevaluate the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office proposal to provide patrol services.
Davidson explained why she and some of the other candidates did not embrace the Sheriff’s proposal.
“The proposal that we received form the Sheriff’s office was only for eight hours of coverage, not 24 hours,” Davidson explained. “We need to have these services be local, and I know that we have great staff in these departments because other communities keep taking them.”
Other questions asked to the candidates focused on increasing revenue and cutting costs, cemetery maintenance as it pertains to the Ohio Revised Code, writing grant requests, where each candidate saw the village at the end of their term and their plans for developing the waterfront.
To see the responses to these and other questions asked during the candidate forum, watch the LWV Clermont County’s video recording of the event at www.lwvclermont.com.