Two candidates are on the Nov. 3 ballot for a single open seat on the Genoa Township Board of Trustees.
Leo Wilhelm has filled the seat vacated by former Trustee Barb Lewis when she became a Delaware County commissioner on Jan. 1. Wilhelm is running for a full four-year term in office, and is being challenged by 33-year township resident Frank Dantonio.
Dantonio, who was born in Texas and grew up in Zanesville, graduated from Otterbein University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting. His work career includes almost 40 years serving with a variety of firms as a tax accountant, tax manager, tax partner, and his current position as a managing principal with Multistate Tax Service.
Locally, Dantonio served on the Big Walnut Board of Education from 1996 to 1999, has been a member of the Genoa Township Board of Zoning Appeals, and served on the township’s Parks Advisory Board in the early 2000s.
“Genoa Township is at a critical crossroads of maintaining its historic rural heritage,” he said. “We’re becoming an overpopulated, overtaxed, congested suburb without private green space.”
Asked for the three items that would top his agenda were he elected to serve as a trustee, Dantonio said:
• Maintain a high level of services — police, fire, zoning, parks and roads — while remaining financially responsible.
• Obtain input from, and respond to, the majority of Genoa taxpayers.
• Prevent residential and commercial overdevelopment and preserve private green space.
“I would focus on getting input from Genoa taxpayers before making predetermined decisions,” Dantonio said. “I think the problem in the past and with the current board is there’s too many variances granted in violation of our master plan that results in excessive land density and traffic, and places a burden on public services.”
Dantonio said another example of predetermined decisions would be the increase in sewer taps approved by trustees in violation of the existing master plan.
“Genoa has not been considering the burden that housing development variances place on infrastructure, including systems,” Dantonio said. “The trustees, and we the people, have the authority to just say no, and not grant variances for the profit and benefit of a few at the expense of all.
“When somebody buys a home in the township, they are buying based on what Genoa is today, what the zoning plan is,” Dantonio said. “When you grant variances, you violate the master plan, you change the rules of the game, and you devalue home owners’ property.”
Wilhelm, originally from Upper Arlington, attended The Ohio State University and graduated summa cum laude from Franklin University in 1980 with a bachelor’s of science in business administration/accounting.
Following 16 years in public accounting in private industry, Wilhelm accepted a position with the State Teachers Retirement System.
Locally, Wilhelm has served 15 years between the township’s board of zoning appeals and zoning commission – five years as chair of zoning, four years as BZA chair.
Asked why he’s seeking a full term in office, Wilhelm said it’s to help keep the township moving in the right direction as it responds to growth.
“Over the past 20 years, Genoa Township has worked with a very active group of volunteers to create a township that’s highly desirable and very family-friendly,” Wilhelm said. “We want to keep that momentum going, to be sure we continue to grow in a controlled manner.”
Asked about the three items that he finds important, Wilhelm said financial responsibility, updating the township’s comprehensive master plan, and eliminating duplication of services.
“We want to make certain our residents get the most for their dollar, while making sure essential services keep the township operating efficiently,” he said. “The zoning commission has the comprehensive master plan in their court right now. They have to come up with recommendations for us, primarily to define some things that cropped up over the last few years that are going to impact development as we move forward.”
Wilhelm said duplication of services, especially the overlap of Genoa Fire Department’s EMT/paramedic services and Delaware County’s EMS unit in the township, is an overlap that shouldn’t be there.
“That’s an issue that needs to be negotiated with Delaware County and other jurisdictions,” he said. “We’re seeing some slow progress there.”
What raises concerns among trustees is infrastructure within the township but not under the township’s control, he said.
“Worthington Road is going to be a difficult arterial,” Wilhelm said. “It’s not really capable of handling the traffic, but Worthington Road is Delaware County, and Route 3 is the state. The Simon-Tanger outlet mall is going to have an impact on our township, adding traffic to Plum Road and Lewis Center Road. Infrastructure is that nagging thing we’ve got to make work, but how do you get all of these entities working together?”
“We want to protect the livability of Genoa Township, and I believe we can control development in our township from excess density,” he said. “But no matter what we do with our comprehensive plan, we’ve got to recognize there are forces not under our control; we can’t control what’s outside our borders.”
Wilhelm said his year as a trustee has been productive and valuable. He said he works well with Trustees Karl Gebhardt and Rick Carfagna. They don’t always agree, he said, but find consensus on what’s important.