Bryan Newell, Melanie Farkas, and Scott Donaldson are each seeking to replace Melanie Leneghan as Liberty Township trustee in the upcoming November general election.
Earlier this year, Leneghan elected not to file with the Delaware County Board of Elections to run for a third consecutive term.
• Newell, certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), is a city and regional planner with 20 years of state and local government experience in solving land and transportation problems. He’s lived in the Liberty Township area since 2004, served on the comprehensive plan update committee and as the Board of Zoning Appeals chairman. He holds a bachelor’s degree in city and regional planning and a master’s degree in transportation engineering from The Ohio State University.
“Beyond my professional experience, which is directly applicable and needed with regard to the role of township trustee, I am running to secure the safety and long-term vibrancy of this community, return control of this township to its residents, and end the personal politics,” he said. “It’s time to stop the drama and move forward. We need to get back to the business of securing this community’s future.”
Newell said he thinks the biggest issue facing the township is the recent jeopardy the fire department has been pushed into and the alienation of the residents.
“Thanks to the actions of two trustees, for a year now the residents have been fighting to preserve the level of fire and EMS (emergency medical services) services they voted for in 2017,” he said. “There is no excuse for the way this situation was handled.”
Growing up in a firefighter family, Newell said he understands relying on the expertise of a fire chief in setting the department’s priorities. He also mentioned he is the only candidate endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 3754, the Liberty Township firefighter’s union.
“I will end the drama and chaos by presenting a resolution that will limit the board’s ability to defund the fire department,” he said. “I will encourage open and transparent discussions of the chief’s recommendations amongst the board and the residents.”
To learn more about Newell, visit https://www.facebook.com/Newell4Trustee/.
• Farkas said she is employed with the law firm of Porter Wright Morris & Authur, LLP as a national marketing, public relations, and advertising buyer. Previously, she worked as a marketing manager for the Ohio Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, “handling millions of dollars in federal grants” and “managing over 100 people in a statewide children’s health program” while gaining “experience in coalition-building and data-informed decision making.”
Farkas holds a bachelor’s degree in applied arts in broadcasting from Central Michigan University. She’s lived in central Ohio for 12 years, moving to Liberty Township in 2015.
Farkas said as the mother of two small children she could no longer stand by and watch elected officials put a community at risk.
“I’m running for trustee because of the dramatic attack on our fire department, which has underlined the bigger issues of our current local government — politicians making decisions based on their own political aspirations at the expense of our safety,” she said.
Farkas believes the most important issue facing the township is the attempt to dismantle the fire department by two of the trustees for their own political gain.
“They attempted to have Delaware County take over our services. They tried to quadruple the amount the county reimburses the township for EMS with the threat to dissolve it if they didn’t pay,” she said. “In the process, they wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars on inflated salaries for unnecessary hires of a medical director and township administrator.
“They are trying to roll back the funding which will have a significant negative impact on our fire services,” she added.
Farkas said she will push for a stop on all attempts to roll back the fire levy until experts can be obtained for an open-data analysis of the current funding.
“This process must include citizen and expert engagement,” she said. “I will never vote to risk the safety and well-being of our community — that is a promise.”
To learn more about Farkas, visit https://www.facebook.com/MelanieFarkas2019/.
• Donaldson is currently a retired entrepreneur and stay-at-home father who said he can treat the position of township trustee as if it were a full-time job. Originally moving to the township with his parents in 1999, Donaldson said he and his family moved back full-time in 2015.
Donaldson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with neuroscience concentration from Ohio Wesleyan University. He previously served on the redevelopment commission in Marion, Indiana, dealing with complex financing, TIF (tax increment financing) deals, and business development and retention.
“I look forward to the opportunity to utilize my business experience and be the best possible steward of the hard-earned tax dollars entrusted to our board,” he said.
Donaldson admits being embarrassed over the recent trustees meetings when reading about them or watching them online. He said his wife has urged him to run for a local office for more than a decade. He finally decided it was time to take her up on the idea.
“The township needs an objective, independent, and positive voice to move forward,” he said. “With the sale of my successful business, I can devote all of my time and resources to supporting our local fire/EMS, running the township like a business, and working collaboratively with our neighbors to create smart and common-sense development.”
When it comes to the most critical issue facing the township, Donaldson believes it’s the damage inflicted on the public’s trust, the relationships with neighboring cities, and the fire department by the current Liberty Township Board of Trustees.
“We must work each and every day to repair these relationships, in addition to the public trust,” he said.
Donaldson said he believes the solution to the problem is greater transparency, because the sharing of public information leads to a well-informed public.
“We simply cannot schedule meetings at inconvenient times, and we need to utilize several different methods to share documents and other pertinent information,” he said. “Utilizing small committees comprised of involved residents of the township could be helpful in facilitating these changes, as well.”
To learn more about Donaldson, visit https://www.facebook.com/donaldson4trustee/.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.