Megan Raehll has announced her candidacy for one of two seats on the Berlin Township Board of Trustees that will be up for grabs in the November election. A resident of the township since 2015, Raehll’s campaign marks the first foray into the pursuit of an elected office for the self-described educator and community servant leader.
Currently serving as the assistant dean of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Franklin University, Raehll holds 15 years of experience teaching in higher education, as well as a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of Buffalo.
Raehll said she views the role of trustee and other non-partisan elected official positions more as “truly public servants that are tasked with reaching across aisles and working directly with neighbors, irrespective of any partisan or politics or any of those things.”
“I’m not so much interested in politics as I am what we can do, neighbor to neighbor, to help solve the pressing issues in the community,” she said.
The process that led to Raehll’s decision to run for trustee began after hearing in 2019 about the 2,000-acre business park being proposed in the township. It was only after finding out about the park in The Gazette that Raehll and many residents were made aware of the proposal, she said, despite the park encompassing a large portion of the township.
“We got to work in finding out what (the business park) means, who was planning it,” Raehll said. “We started working with Delaware County economic development and the trustees, and one of the things that we noticed that was lacking was that there was a gap in the communication and the ability to connect neighborhood to neighborhood across the township.”
In response to the lack of communication, Raehll and several township residents started the “We Love Berlin Township” Facebook group to keep the community informed about zoning and growth in the community. Raehll said that out of the work done with the county and the township trustees, a plan for positive growth with the business park has been developed. However, she said at this point in time, it’s still just a plan, and there is still plenty of work to be done.
“The next step really came into play over the last six to sevent months to say, ‘We have to help see this plan through to fruition for positive change and to make sure that we’re promoting positive growth in the community,’” Raehll said.
Raehll added, “I would say that where I see opportunities that I, particularly, could serve in a way that is unique in what I bring to the table is that I really think the township should have already established a parks, trails, and recreation committee to support the connecting of all the communities with this growth.”
Raehll said she wants to see the same amount of attention being put on a master plan for trails, as well as on the formation of a committee dedicated to parks, trails, and recreation as there is being spent on zoning and development.
“I think that parks, trails, and recreation is as important as zoning and development in terms of the oversight of it being done by the local residents,” she said. “So that’s a huge component of why I wanted to run and what I think I can bring to the table.”
Raehll went on to say the township is at a critical point in shaping how it’s going to look for years to come, which has only heightened her resolve to make an impact now.
“Time definitely is of the essence to me,” Raehll said. “If you drive through Berlin (Township) right now, you still see cornfields, you still have a very rural feel on routes 36/37. But much of that zoning is coming, and for me, there is a weight of responsibility in knowing that I think we only have one chance to get that right.
“Once it’s zoned, once the foundations are in the ground, once plots are laid out, it’s going to be there for a long time. So the weight of responsibility to get it right in a way that is safe, in a way that residents want to see it grow, and in a way that serves the local and broader interest of the community, is really important. I want to be a part of the conversation and would be honored to serve the interests of the local residents in this way.”
Another aspect Raehll sees as an opportunity in the township is to develop communication and engagement strategies for a township existing in the 21st century. “Social media is a huge component in being able to connect with neighbors, and I want to explore the ways to do social media responsibly as a government, but also in a way that is very intentional in helping residents be informed and stay connected to the township and what the township has going on.”
Raehll said she feels Berlin Township has been “more reserved” in its approaches to communication with the community, adding that she would like to hold monthly meetings for residents to physically voice their concerns if they aren’t active on social media.
To learn more about and connect with Raehll, visit her campaign website at www.meghanforberlin.org or check out her MeghanforBerlin Instagram and Facebook pages.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.