Five vying for Delaware’s three at-large council seats


Incumbents George Hellinger, Carolyn Kay Riggle, and Kent Shafer will face competition from Dustin Nanna and write-in candidate Laura Roberts on Nov. 7 for Delaware City Council’s three at-large seats.

Write-in candidate Christopher Cook told The Gazette he has withdrawn from the race for personal reasons.

George Hellinger

A longtime city resident, Hellinger holds an MBA from Ashland University. He and his wife, Brindi, have two daughters.

Hellinger, who serves on the Delaware Planning Commission, said if re-elected to a second term, his decisions won’t be swayed by any campaign contributors since his campaign is self-funded.

“I am vested in our community and work tirelessly for all residents,” he said.

One of the most pressing issues facing the city, Hellinger said, is infrastructure, specifically street maintenance, which he added has been underfunded for years.

“The developments of the 1990s and 2000s are aging. These residential roads need attention, along with the major roads that move the majority of traffic through our town,” Hellinger said. “Additionally, our street curbs and gutters in neighborhoods that are 30 years old or older are failing and in desperate need of repair.”

To address road infrastructure, Hellinger said, he is hopeful council can “formulate a new road levy” to bring to voters in 2018. This time, he added, the city will need to better communicate the ins and outs of the levy to voters.

“A five- or seven-year maintenance-only levy will allow the city to demonstrate the effective use of levy funds,” Hellinger said. “Assuring residents that 100 percent of the road levy monies are supplemental to existing funding and not a replacement for funds reallocated to other needs is also necessary.”

Dustin Nanna

A professional caretaker for people with developmental disabilities at Reflektions LTD in Delaware, Nanna is a 2012 graduate of Hayes High School.

Nanna said he is seeking election to ensure council “remains responsive and receptive to the citizens, and because I think representation should come from all ages and walks of life.”

If Nanna is elected, one issue he would address is ease of and access to parking in downtown Delaware.

“Countless citizens have expressed to me a need to increase the parking spaces available in the immediate area of historic downtown,” he said. “To do so presents a unique challenge as I do not wish to see any of our beautiful, historic downtown demolished for this purpose.”

Nanna suggested an in-depth study be done on the feasibility of a parking garage being built on one of the city’s existing public lots.

“My concern with this is cost,” he said. “I do not wish to raise taxes for such a project unless it is a targeted ask at the voting booth.”

Carolyn Kay Riggle

A Delaware resident since 1985, Riggle has two daughters and has spent the last two decades as an escrow agent/marketing specialist for Lawyers Title Agency of Delaware.

A veteran council member with 14 years under her belt, Riggle said she is seeking re-election to help make sure the citizens of Delaware have access to services “on par with communities throughout central Ohio.”

“I know that I can continue to do a good job for (city residents), because I’m out in the community every day listening to what citizens have to say,” she said.

The city’s road system, Riggle added, needs to be a top priority moving forward.

“From maintenance to outdated intersections, traffic signal patterns, and parking, our system of roads has struggled to keep up with our explosive growth over the last 20 years, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down.”

Before crunching numbers to see how the city can start addressing these concerns, Riggle said, city officials need to make sure they are listening to residents and what they would like to see addressed.

“We need to get their input and to hear their thoughts, concerns, and priorities,” she said. “Together, we tackle this problem of how to pay for it and determine if a levy is needed and what should it look like.”

Riggle added she is opposed to a permanent tax levy.

Laura Roberts

A Delaware native and 1966 graduate of Hayes High School, Roberts has called the city home for over 40 years. The mother of one daughter, Roberts taught and tutored in several school districts throughout the country after receiving a B.S. in elementary education from Southern Illinois University.

As a write-in candidate, Roberts said, she decided to seek an at-large seat on council due to her strong desire to represent everyone in the community.

“Since Delaware is a very diverse community, having many cultures within its city limits, I felt a need for more representation and diversity on city council,” she said. “I would personally bring a visible representation of another culture in our fine city.”

Roberts said one challenge facing the city is making sure all “diverse cultures in the city have representation and are always considered in decision-making policies for the city.”

She said the city needs to be more supportive and proactive in bringing additional minority business opportunities to Delaware like culturally-diverse restaurants.

In addition, the city needs to be “more aware of the problems that various cultures face in everyday living,” Roberts added. “These challenges can be met with council members being more visible in all sectors of the whole community of Delaware.”

Kent Shafer

A city resident since 2003, Shafer, who is seeking a second term on council, is a lifelong public servant having served over three decades on the Columbus Division of Police. He owns a consulting business focused on criminal justice, public safety, and public policy matters.

In addition to being a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Shafer also holds two undergraduate degrees (electronics engineering and business administration).

“My educational background and experience provide me a foundation from which to understand issues and work collaboratively with others to accomplish objectives,” Shafer said.

Having served as chairman of the city’s Parking & Safety Committee while also spearheading the city’s efforts to improve downtown parking, Shafer said another term in office would allow him the opportunity to continue addressing the parking concerns by helping see through the city’s implementation matrix.

“As a result of a comprehensive study of our downtown parking situation, we have an action matrix for improvements in terms of better utilization of existing space, increasing capacity, and providing better public information,” Shafer said. “The plan is divided into short-term, mid-term, and long-term objectives.”






Gazette Staff

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