By Megan Alley
Residents of Pierce Township heard from candidates for the township’s board of trustees at a forum on Oct. 25 at Legendary Run Country Club.
Four candidates are vying for two board seats in this Nov. 7 election.
The moderated discussion, hosted by the Legendary Run Homeowner’s Association and conducted by the League of Women Voters Clermont County, asked for input on issues and concerns facing the township from candidates Bonnie Batchler (incumbent), Nick Kelly, Karen Rebori and Bob Sander.
The candidates introduced themselves, stated why they are running for office and answered questions from the audience.
Batchler, who is in her third term, shared what inspired her to run for office.
“I have always said I’m not a politician. I’m the furthest thing from a politician that you’ll ever find. I was a resident who saw the need for a change,” she said.
She went on to urge voters for their support.
“I promise if you reelect me, I have a lot of contact that I made throughout the years with local and state officials, and I know that would be very beneficial,” she said. “We have a good working relationship.”
Kelly, who is president of the Legendary Run Homeowner’s Association, said he decided to run for council to “create a more inclusive environment.”
“The more township meetings I came to – trustee meetings, zoning commission meetings – the more I saw a need for a little more openness, a little more inclusion – an environment that in my opinion could be a little more friendly and welcoming, particularly to people that don’t come to meetings often,” he said.
Rebori, a retired agent from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said she’s a “public servant” who has served on a number of township committees, including the zoning commission.
She added, “I’ve lived in the township for about 20 years, and throughout my entire time of living in this township, I’ve been asked to serve, and I’ve never said ‘no.’”
As a trustee, Rebori said she’ll “listen to everyone.”
“Your voices are what’s more important than what some others may think, and we need to group that all together and work as a team,” she said. “That’s what the board of trustees is; it’s one voice.”
Sander said that one of the reasons he’s running for a seat on the board is to improve the township’s infrastructure, including park equipment and roads.
“We need some more money … we’re going to get it through grants, because I want to have a grant czar to go after the grants and to get some extra money,” he explained.
Then, the candidates were asked to describe what they believe to be the township’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Kelly said the township’s strength is its character.
“I think we live in a great township that is well spread out; it’s developed, but at this point, not overdeveloped,” he said.
He said the township has an opportunity to improve the condition of its roads, bring new businesses to the commercial district on state Route 125 and improve its website.
Rebori said the citizens of the township are its strength.
“To me, the strength is your input,” she added. “Your input’s what we’re going to thrive on anyway, to see where we need to go.”
She listed one of the township’s opportunities as getting more people engaged with the economic development committee.
“We need more input from people; people that are involved,” she added.
Rebori went on to list road conditions as one of the township’s weaknesses.
Sander agreed with Rebori’s response that the township’s residents are its biggest strength.
He said one of the township’s weaknesses was going for a year without a township administrator.
“I think we fell behind a little bit,” he explained.
He said that another of the township’s weaknesses is lack of space for development.
“We can overcome these weaknesses, and we can make them into strengths, but it will require some effort on all of our parts,” he added.
Batchler agreed that the residents of the township are “a big strength.”
“You have supported us by serving on a lot of these different committees, but I’m going to turn it a little bit; I think our biggest strength is the employees – they are some of the hardest working people you will ever meet,” she said. “I’ve never seen such a cohesive group of people working together, and that’s one of the biggest assets of this township.”
Batchler listed “going after grants” as an opportunity for the township.
Other questions asked to the candidates focused on what they would like to see happen if they were elected, specific things they would do to enhance collaborative activities with neighboring jurisdictions, how long they have lived in the township and how they felt about attendance at township meetings, and their plans for securing more funding for road improvements.