GALENA — Four men are running for two Harlem Township trustee seats in the Nov. 2 election: Incumbent David Jackson, newcomers Christopher Conomy and Bob Dalton, and former Trustee Carl Richison. All have Galena mailing addresses.
The Gazette asked the candidates why they are running, what is the top issue facing the township and how they intend to handle it, and whether they support local COVID-19 guidelines. Here are their responses, in alphabetical order:
Christopher Conomy: “I have always had an interest in public service, which is why I pursued a Master of Public Administration along with my law degree. I have been in public service as an Assistant Attorney General since 2006 and have a strong grounding in government law. Our family moved to an existing horse farm here in Harlem Township in 2014, and we love the place more every day. I finally felt the time was right to seek elected office this year, with the support of my family.
“The number one issue on voters’ minds for Harlem Township is how we handle the wave of new development coming in. In the time we have lived here, new development has increased dramatically, and more is coming.
“I have three main goals as Trustee: 1. To ensure that our zoning and development policies protect Harlem’s rural character, maintaining open spaces and agricultural uses. We have tools we can use to resist overly aggressive development and support existing farms and open spaces. 2. To keep our roads and services strong enough to handle the influx of the new development that has already come in. This includes untapped streams of funding from state and federal sources that won’t increase the local tax burden. 3. To prevent new development from causing flooding on neighboring properties and polluting our watershed. Because a new developer cutting corners should not make a neighbor bear the cost. I have been endorsed by the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund.
“Thanks to the efforts of our Health District, Delaware County has the highest vaccination rate in the state. Currently, 78% of eligible people in the county are fully vaccinated. And 96% of Delaware County seniors have had at least one shot! Some politicians think they can score points by opposing these common-sense precautions, but it is clear that the overwhelming majority of Delaware County residents quietly reject that nonsense. They are doing what it takes to live their lives and reduce the risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. Case rates in Delaware County are going down. Following a few simple guidelines can keep that going without more negative impacts on our business and social lives.”
Bob Dalton: A former professor and 30-year resident of Harlem Township, Dalton said he is behind a referendum that will appear on the spring ballot opposing a development in the township. Running for public office is a new endeavor for him, he told The Gazette in a phone interview.
Dalton said he’s running because he’s deeply concerned about the “poor communication” and “disregard of people” that is resulting in a “perfect storm” of developers wanting to build in the township. “The key is restricting common-access driveways,” he said regarding new homes in the area. Dalton also wants to update the township website. In terms of COVID-19, Dalton said, “Rights come with responsibilities,” meaning “that health care should be rationed” if necessary to those who test positive for the virus.
David Jackson: The Harlem Township website states, “Dave is a grain farmer and is a lifelong resident of Harlem Township. He has been a trustee since 1997 and previously served on the zoning board of appeals for several years. Dave is currently a cooperating member of the Delaware County Soil Conservation Service and a member of the advisory board for ditch petitions.”
“As a lifetime resident and living on our century-old farm, I deeply care about the future of Harlem Township,” Jackson said via email. “Harlem is the last township in southern Delaware County that borders Franklin County to face major growth. The comprehensive Master Plan that is being considered for adoption that will provide a guide to our future. It is my desire to see Township services and roads keep pace with increased usage.
“Growth is one of our most pressing issues … the Comprehensive Plan will aid in preserving the rural character of our township. What might be the most increasing problem is traffic. Mostly, dangerous intersections that need attention. Our township roads and services will need to expand. Our park areas need to expand, too, as residents enjoy open space.
“I support the Delaware Public Health District and the CDC guidelines. The District has to keep the overall health of Delaware County residents as their first priority. The Health Department has put in countless hours for the entire county in keeping us safe.”
Carl Richison: “I am running for Trustee of Harlem Township because I feel the need to serve my community. Harlem Township sits at a turning point in our growth. We need to be sure that the people are represented, and I have always strived to listen and to make decisions based on the voice of the people. We need to remember anytime we are honored with the trust of our community that we continue to listen and do their will and not listen to special interest or just the squeaky wheel.
“As previously stated, growth is coming our direction. We need to work with contractors, utilities, and the people of our community to maintain the course that keeps our community as close to why we all love Harlem Township. One thing I plan on doing is working towards more community involvement to avoid the situation of only getting involved because ‘it’s in my backyard’ or getting involved after the process has already started. Too many times in my years of involvement with Harlem Township I have seen issues arise just to hear folks say this is the first I’ve heard of this. I want to make sure the public is informed and part of any thing that affects our community.
“Any time your personal health or personal freedom of choice is concerned I feel that this is an area that the government needs to stay out of. The United States of America was founded to give everyone the freedom of choice. I believe it is not up to me to place my beliefs onto others just because I hold a government position.
“Thanks for this opportunity.”
The trustees terms would commence on Jan. 1, 2022.
Also on the ballot in Harlem Township, incumbent Fiscal Officer Lisa Hursey is unopposed for an unexpired term ending March 31, 2024.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.