Former Liberty Township Trustee Tom Mitchell, Ph.D., announced Wednesday he will run for a spot on the Liberty Township Board of Trustees in 2019.
“I can’t sit on the sidelines and watch this happen,” he said Wednesday in a phone interview with The Gazette. “The reason I’m coming off the bench is to stop Melanie and Mike.”
Trustee Michael Gemperline was elected to the Liberty Township Board of Trustees in the November 2017, replacing Mitchell, who did not run for re-election. Leneghan’s current term ends Dec. 31, 2019.
Mitchell, like many in the township who have taken a stand against a proposal that would turn control of EMS in Liberty Township over to Delaware County, feels it is telling of the will of township residents that voters passed the fire levy renewal in 2017.
“I think the people spoke with passing the levy by 74 percent,” he said.
Trustees in June 2017 unanimously approved the resolution declaring the necessity for the 5-year, 5.6-mill renewal levy for the township’s fire department. The levy began this year, and it will first be collected in 2019. During that time in 2017, Mitchell was one of the three trustees that supported the levy.
Mitchell first ran for trustee in November 2013 against Shyra Eichhorn (current trustee), Peggy Guzzo, John Hartman, and Vincent Margello.
“One of the many reasons I ran the last time was to keep Vince Margello from doing the very thing Melanie is doing,” he said. “I’m now running to stop Melanie from doing more damage.”
Mitchell said the township has an award-winning EMS that is one of the best in the state.
“They (Leneghan and Gemperline) both say it’s not a decrease in service,” he said. “Liberty Township EMS covers everything. You won’t have that same level of service with the county EMS.”
Mitchell said the Liberty Fire Department’s firefighters and paramedics are a cohesive unit that trains together.
“The difference in a green medic and a red medic is the people of the township knowing those on them,” he said. “It’s about the local control and the EMS paramedics knowing the people of the community.”
He said it will be difficult to take back the township’s EMS once the county has control.
“But I’ve started to look into it,” he said.
Mitchell said the first time he ran no one knew who he was. So, he knocked on 4,000 doors to introduce himself to the community.
“This time I’m reintroducing myself to the community,” he said. “I know how to do it this time.”
Mitchell’s previous term as a Liberty Township trustee began on Jan. 1, 2014, and ended on Dec. 31, 2017. He said he is currently pulling together a campaign team to start raising funds for his 2019 run for trustee.
In 2017, Mitchell did not run for re-election due to his wife being ill.
“In February (2017), my wife was diagnosed with stage four cancer,” he said earlier this year. “She went through six months of chemotherapy.”
Mitchell’s last appearance as trustee was at the Nov. 20, 2017 meeting, where he said his goodbyes.
In his farewell, Mitchell said that he stands by all of the votes he cast as a trustee over four years, except for maybe one or two that he might have second-guessed, but felt good about his experience on the board.
“By and large, I (can) live with my conscious. I (can) live with my heart, and I (can) live with my brain,” he told the community at his farewell. “I think those three things combined, I’m proud of what I’ve done. I wish I could have done more.”
Mitchell said when he took office, he was offered some advice by the trustee whose seat he had taken.
He said the old trustee told him, “In your first four years, you figure out what you’re doing. Then in your second four, you get things done.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.