Councilman Jim Browning announced earlier this year he would not be running again as the Third Ward representative on Delaware City Council.
With the seat vacated, two candidates — Cory Hoffman and George McNab — are battling to win over their community on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Here is a preview of what each candidate believes they will bring to council should they be elected.
Hoffman is a three-year resident of the city of Delaware. He currently works as an attorney, serving as general council for Pinnacle CPA Advisory Group Inc. He also does tax consulting for the firm’s individual and business clients.
He said he was encouraged to run for council by Browning, who Hoffman said was also a supporter of his when he ran for state representative last year.
Hoffman said he had not planned to run for an elected office following the state representative race, “but it seemed like a really good opportunity to serve and (Browning) believed in me, and I thought, ‘Yeah, there are some good things that can be done here at the city level.’”
“I wouldn’t say there is anything particularly negative about Delaware that would make me say, ‘This needs to change.’ I just thought it was a great opportunity to contribute,” he stated.
Hoffman added there is still a lot of land to be developed in Delaware, and there is concern among some Delaware residents that the land won’t be developed in the best interest of those residents. Rather, he said, the concern is development will be done in the best interest of developers.
“That’s one thing I believe for sure, that I would make sure of, is that as we continue to improve and grow our community, it will be done in the best interest of the people in the Third Ward and the people of Delaware as a whole,” Hoffman said.
He added, “It does seem like the designs in the development, is it coming from the community’s input or only developer input? I can’t say for sure, now, that it’s not within the best interest of Delaware.”
Hoffman said he has heard that the development community has people they want to support in council races with the purpose of getting people into council that will be “on their side” and “allow them to override the Planning Commission,” although he acknowledged that is all “hearsay” at this point.
“So, maybe if there isn’t a concern now, I think that the concern is on the horizon that we could have out-of-control development that is not in the best interest of the community if we don’t make sure the city council remains a representative of the people as a whole instead of certain factions,” Hoffman said.
“I am not beholden to certain development groups,” he added. “That’s not to say that I don’t support the concept of pro-development if it is in the best interest of the city, but city council is supposed to represent the city of Delaware, not developers who want to make the most money possible off of the city of Delaware.”
Hoffman said among the issues he hears about the most from those within his ward, traffic is usually a top priority. Hull Drive and, by extension, Hawthorne Drive, have been discussed before council several times recently due to complaints by residents of increased traffic volume on Hull Drive.
Asked what his message to residents would be, Hoffman said, “This is a non-partisan job, and my understanding is that people are there not to be political. City council tries to get things done in a workman-like fashion, and that’s how I would plan to approach it.”
McNab has lived in Delaware since 2015 when he and his wife, Emily, moved into the city to begin their family. He has been working for the State of Ohio for the past 13 years, beginning with legislature in the Ohio Senate for five years. From there, McNab moved to the Ohio Department of Agriculture where he currently serves as a legislative liaison.
“I’m running for Delaware City Council because my wife and I look for an opportunity to serve others, whether it be through state government, local service, or volunteering for local nonprofits,” McNab said, adding he’s always been attracted to serving others.
McNab said he sees economic development as Delaware’s greatest opportunity.
“The county, I think, is the number one fastest-growing county in the state,” he said. “So, that puts Delaware in a prime strategic position to grow the city. And I think the challenge in doing that is balancing the classical downtown infrastructure of Delaware with the new, growing needs of Delaware.”
Asked about the rate of development happening in Delaware, McNab said he believes that development needs to be done strategically.
“Because the county is growing so fast, (development) is going to happen in Delaware,” he said. “So, Delaware needs to be a part of the conversation so they can put it on their terms. Absolutely, you don’t want to lose that small-town feel, and I think there are ways of doing that. Maybe growing on the outskirts of town … it’s really important to be strategic and very carefully weigh new development proposals.”
McNab said it is critical for a city council member to listen to all parties — residents, developers, and existing businesses — alike when weighing proposals.
“In my experience working with legislature, you need to balance your approach,” he said. “You need to work with all the stakeholders and kind of find that common approach and not side one way or the other. If you do that, everyone is going to get upset and some things are going to get derailed. So, I think it’s important to listen to all parties and consider all their interests.”
As for what he has heard from residents within his ward on what they want to see from their ward representative, McNab said having “an avenue to listen to the city actions” is key.
“The further out you get from the city and downtown, I feel like there is a disconnect,” McNab said. “The ward I live in, the new section of the ward, you’re kind of caught in between. You pay Delaware city taxes but you’re not connected to Delaware. A lot of people in the ward work outside of the city.”
McNab said hearing their concerns and bringing them back to city council to make them feel like part of the community is a primary focus. He said he welcomes the opportunity to represent the ward, get involved and listen to the community, and communicate those concerns to the city for good, actionable results.
“I want to be their eyes and ears in the ward,” McNab said of his hopes for winning the race. “My big focuses are going to be economic development, infrastructure, and, I need to stress more often, the customer experience with the city of Delaware.”
McNab said he wants to ensure citizens have a positive experience when interacting with the city, whether that be an individual filing for a permit, a business doing the same, or whatever the circumstances may be.
“I really want to stress that, that I will focus on the customer experience,” he said.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.