New faces in local races
- Published: August 4, 2011
Last weekend Village Council candidate Dan Reyes walked door-to-door in his neighborhood to collect petition signatures and learn what’s important to villagers. While Reyes said he won’t bring an agenda to Council, he hopes to weigh in on growth and development and help the village capitalize on its educators and artists.
“We can be as good as some people think we are,” Reyes said.
Reyes is among five candidates vying for three open positions on Council in the Nov. 8 election. Incumbents Lori Askeland and Rick Walkey will contend for seats along with Shane Creepingbear and Gerald Simms, who both recently joined the race. And this week Sylvia Ellison joined incumbent Sean Creighton in the race for two open seats on school board.
Candidates interested in running for local office in the village and township can still obtain petitions from the Greene County Board of Elections and need to file them by Aug. 10.
Creepingbear, 28, said he wants to bring the voice of the next generation of Yellow Springers to Council, which he believes is underrepresented, and work to attract more young families.
“For the vitality of our village we have to have a continuity between one generation and the next,” he said.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., Creepingbear came to Yellow Springs to attend Antioch College and graduated in 2008 with a degree in linguistics and communication. He is now back at Antioch working in the admissions department. He also manages the Sunrise martini bar and hopes to start a brewery in town.
Creepingbear, whose heritage is the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, said he also wants to reduce the town’s environmental impact, instill a culture of lifelong learning and promote more cooperation and civil discourse among villagers.
“[Yellow Springs] can be an example to future generations of how we can live in a constantly evolving and sustainable way,” he said. “I want to set a new focus on what Yellow Springs can do to lower our environmental impact on the land and increase our water quality.”
Creepingbear said economic development should be focused on businesses that provide well-paying jobs, don’t damage the environment and are in line with the community’s values.
“I want to continue to support the town’s uniqueness, which is really at the heart of how to attract outside dollars,” he said.
Simms is also interested in economic development and would, as a Council member, be more proactive with local businesses to make sure their needs are met, help to develop more commercial space and support the joint effort between Community Resources and the Village to complete the Center for Business and Education, he said.
“We have to figure out how we want to sell ourselves,” Simms said.
Simms moved to Yellow Springs in 1971 soon after graduating from Wilberforce University. He is retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he worked in finance and facilitation. Simms is currently a board member of Community Resources and has served on the Vision Yellow Springs-Miami Township Steering Committee, the Human Relations Commission, and, in the 1980s, on the school board.
As an African American in his 60s, Simms said he would add a minority voice and represent the growing older population in the village.
“There needs to be minority representation because the community is diversified and I feel that all groups need to be represented,” he said.
Simms also hopes to weigh in on financial matters affecting the village, using his background in financial management and cost-estimating, support senior housing projects, and work to balance growth with affordability.
“We need housing that appeals to the younger folks,” he said. “The village has to really come together, and we have to determine do we want growth or do we not want growth.”
Reyes also said he believes development issues are among the most critical facing the village and said his background in planning will be useful to Council as it considers new development.
“A lot of what’s been going on these days locally, nationally and globally has lingered on economic difficulties — I think we can also develop opportunities,” Reyes said, adding that smart growth and ecologically-responsible development are especially applicable in Yellow Springs.
Reyes, a founding member of The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute, has lived in the village since 2003. He is also a part-time architecture professor at Miami University in Oxford and has a PhD in education and cultural studies. He served briefly on the Village’s Design Advisory Committee.
As part of Nonstop, Reyes organized a series on higher education and facilitated a forum of congressional candidates. If he becomes part of Council, he said he will find ways to tap into the community’s educational resources and “abundance of creative people.”
“I would broadly look at ways to enable the local [community] to achieve its potentials and make use of our capabilities,” he said.
The two highest vote-getters for the Council seats will serve four years while the third will get a two-year term. The election winners will join councilors Judith Hempfling and Karen Wintrow, both in the middle of their second four-year terms.
Running for school board, Ellison, who teaches public health at Wright State University, said wellness in the schools and special education are her main interests.
Current school wellness issues include updating the district’s wellness policy, school system food options, and opportunities for movement breaks in school which “impact learning as well as behavior,” she said.
Ellison moved from the Washington, D.C. area four years ago, and is the mother of two children in the school district. She served as a parent representative on the 2010 search committees for a new district superintendent and Mills Lawn principal, and is a member of the local Safe Routes to School committee. She’s also a leader in La Leche League of Yellow Springs.
Ellison hopes her skills as a researcher will also be an asset for the position and said the district’s financial situation requires special attention.
“I think it’s an important time to keep things going optimally, with the context of a shared financial crisis,” she said.
School board election winners will serve four-year terms and join board members Benji Maruyama, Angela Wright and Aïda Merhemic, who all have two more years left on their four-year terms.
Completed petitions have been received by the Greene County Board of Elections from incumbents Dave Foubert for mayor, Chris Mucher for Miami Township Trustee and Creighton for school board. Simms has also submitted his petition for Council. Others who have indicated they are running for office are Michael Cannon for mayor and Margaret Silliman for Township fiscal officer.