GALENA — Four candidates are vying for two Berkshire Township trustee seats. Incumbents Mike Dattilo and Rod Myers are being challenged by Stephen Ciacchi and Austin Slattery. Both incumbents ran unopposed in 2017.
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:
Stephen Ciacchi: “I am running to bring new perspectives and innovative ideas that will set a solid foundation for current and future growth. I have had the privilege to live in the area since the early 1990s, including graduating from Big Walnut High School in 2005. Berkshire Township has the perfect opportunity to shape commercial and residential growth in a manner that will be advantageous to not only our community but make Berkshire Township a destination for families to come enjoy life enriching experiences and activities.
“Berkshire Township has lost vital land to annexation in recent years. We must utilize our opportunities and put a plan together that will welcome sound commercial growth. We need growth that will increase excitement and make Berkshire Township a destination location.
“Berkshire Township is fortunate to be part of both the Big Walnut and Olentangy school districts. They are two of the top school districts in our state with outstanding reputations. We need to assist in maintaining their outstanding reputation. Bringing in sound commercial growth will create financial pillars for years to come for our schools. I will work with the other trustees, the zoning inspector and township administrator to recruit stable commercial growth. This growth would present our school districts with a consistent revenue stream that will allow our schools to be prepared for the future and benefit our kids.
“Berkshire Township needs to increase communication and continue to build on the close-knit community. As a trustee I will look to send out a quarterly township email to residents that addresses old business, new projects, upcoming township events, concerns, and our finances. In addition, I would like to work with the other trustees and Berkshire Township staff to put on family-oriented events – township picnics, child safety courses, and holiday festivals such as a family friendly/kid safe ‘Trunk or Treat.’ We should continue to look for ways to engage the community and give back.
”I believe each individual has the right and responsibility to do their own research and make the best personal decision for themselves and their loved ones when it comes to COVID-19 guidelines.
For more information, visit CiacchiForBerkshire.com.
Mike Dattilo: “Incumbent trustee Mike has served as Trustee since January 1, 2014,” the Berkshire Township website states. “His current term expires December 31, 2021. Mike is also the board representative for roads.”
Dattilo did not respond to The Gazette’s attempts to contact him for his viewpoints.
Rod Myers: “Incumbent Chairman Rod is the current Chairman, and has served as a Trustee since 2009,” states the township website. “His current term expires December 31, 2021. Rod is also the BST&G Fire Board representative for Berkshire Township.”
Myers did not respond to The Gazette’s attempt to contact him for his viewpoints. His Facebook page, last updated in 2013, said, “Proudly serving as Berkshire Township Trustee. I am dedicated to protecting the public’s finances and preserving the township’s rural character.”
Austin Slattery: “I have been attending the township and zoning meetings for the last three years. In this time I have seen terrible bickering, isolation of single trustees by the other two, and decisions made that have set us up to fail. I am not a politician nor a lobbyist. I am a frustrated resident who knows firsthand from my past experience that there is a better way. I want to be part of the team — a new team — that can work together to protect and grow this township.
“Two major things: Growth – I want to see us control the growth to be what we want and not just what the developer wants to throw at us. We currently have several businesses coming forward with new plans to build and the trustees have made it easy for them to “quick-step” the zoning using a Planned Mixed Use District setup. PMUD is not a bad thing in itself. It’s just that ours also has abatements attached called Tax Increment Finance agreements. These TIFs give 75% abatements for 10 years as inducements to build commercial here.
“Annexation – in the last 10 years more than 2000 acres have been annexed to Sunbury. This largely was done through a promise of sewer services. We need to work with our resident landowners and our neighboring entities to halt this annexation before we have little left to manage.
“I believe every American should retain their individual right to ‘choose’ yes or no to get vaccinated.”
The Facebook pages Citizens for Austin Slattery and Protect Delaware County from ‘Planet Oasis’ provide more information on Slattery.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.