Four men are seeking three seats on Powell City Council.
Two incumbents, Richard Cline and Mike Crites, did not file for re-election. One incumbent, Jon C. Bennehoof, is seeking a second term.
A 12-year resident of Powell, Bennehoof is a business transformation executive/advisory consultant with a degree from Youngstown State University. Vietnam combat veteran Bennehoff served in the Navy. He is married, has two daughters and three granddaughters.
Bennehoof said his first-term accomplishments include contributing to strategic planning sessions and the comprehensive plan, being a member of the development committee; and “restoring a positive working relationship with Liberty Township.” He said that development is the biggest issue facing Powell.
“Our community needs to better understand that the processes and requirements that state government, Ohio Revised Code, requirements on municipalities, and a host of regulations need to be balanced with the wishes of the community, the tax rate that services require, and the rights of land owners. I would like to see more concerned, thoughtful involvement by our constituents in all facets of the city’s government. Our community needs to come together, understand the foundations of government, participate in the process and collaborate on solutions. More people need to be involved in the business of finding the right balance for the entire community.”
Newcomer Brendan Newcomb has lived in Powell for four years and is a community volunteer working with Catholic Social Services. He has degrees from Georgetown University and New York Law School. Newcomb is married and has a son. In the last election, he said, “I helped obtain enough signatures to place a charter amendment on the ballot, banning high-density housing in downtown Powell, which passed overwhelmingly.”
Newcomb’s interest in keeping higher-density housing out of downtown Powell inspired him to run for council.
“In talking with my neighbors, I discovered that we shared many of the same concerns about the City Council’s voting record,” Newcomb said. “We realized that they were not listening to the community. I feel that I would better serve the interests of the voters, not the developers or the consultants.”
High-density housing is Powell’s biggest issue, Newcomb said.
“Squeezing more housing on to the same area takes a toll upon our roads, schools, parks, and infrastructure,” he said. “In Powell, there are currently over 800 houses being built or scheduled to be built. There is also a lot of undeveloped land, so the character of our community is at risk. My vision for Powell is to protect against the trend to re-zone property that is already zoned for single-family housing. I’d also like to see developers include more benefits to our community as part of their plans by adding bike paths, parks and green space, not just getting more subsidies in terms of Tax Increment Financing.”
In addition, Newcomb wants to improve the quality of life in Powell.
“I would invest in more bike paths and green space,” Newcomb said. “Currently, we have just 13 miles of bike paths with limited connections between neighborhoods. I would attempt to expand our tax base by seeking out companies interested in relocating to a community with a highly educated work force and excellent school system. Ultimately, my goal is that Powell continues to be an attractive place to live, raise a family, and continues to maintain a strong sense of community.”
Chris Shear is a political novice who has lived in Powell for 10 years with his wife and three daughters. The founder and president of Powell-based Benefits One Consulting, Shear has a degree from Ohio State University and coaches youth soccer and basketball.
“As a fiscal conservative, I have over 20 years of experience helping clients save money at renewal time, budgeting, life changes and plan selection,” Shear said. “Growing up in Bay Village, Ohio, and experiencing what a great community is all about, I want to make Powell a remarkable family-oriented place to live.”
Shear said he wants to improve Powell in four ways — “Smart growth in the downtown area, and simple solutions to traffic concerns; a focus on the Seldom Seen and other parks and bike paths; a commitment to providing top-notch city services and police department; and fiscal responsibility.”
Daniel Swartwout is running for council a second time. A Powell resident since 2004, he has degrees from Ohio State, and is a licensed attorney and a stand-up comedian.
“I have lived in central Ohio my entire life,” Swartwout said. “My wife and I decided that Powell was the best place to raise our daughter. I would like to do my part to continue making Powell a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Swartwout said that “Powell residents are most concerned about maintaining the quality of life that attracted them to Powell in the first place. In my view, three factors contribute to this overriding concern: traffic, development, and the lack of attention paid to our parks. On traffic, I will seek out both the residents of Powell and traffic-flow experts in crafting innovative, low-cost solutions. I will also place the interests of current Powell residents ahead of the interests of the developers. And finally, I will make our parks a priority, instead of an afterthought.”
In addition, Swartwout wants council to be more responsive.
“I will be both open and accessible,” he said. “I want the people of Powell to know that I will take their ideas, issues and concerns seriously.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.