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Few newcomers in fall election races

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With only a month to go before the filing deadline, several incumbents and only two newcomers have shown interest in November’s election for Village Council, Yellow Springs Board of Education and Miami Township Trustees.

This year’s election, which takes place on Nov. 3, will feature three open seats for Council, two for school board and two for the trustees, plus the Yellow Springs mayor. The deadline for filing a petition at the Greene County Board of Elections is 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

The three seats open for Council are currently held by Marianne MacQueen, Gerry Simms and Lori Askeland. Askeland, currently vice president of Council and in her second four-year term, has stated that she is not running again. Karen Wintrow and Brian Housh remain on Council for two more years.

In an interview last week, MacQueen, who is finishing her first two-year term, said she will run again. A longtime villager who has directed several local nonprofits, MacQueen said she enjoys serving on Council and feels she’s good at it. Her interests include environmental and sustainability concerns, and in her first term she resurrected the Village Environmental Commission. Other special concerns include an interest in adding to the local rental stock, including both affordable and market rate housing; responsible budgeting, the relationship between police and the community, and development of the Glass Farm wetlands.

Simms, who has served for one four-year term, will also run again, and has taken out a petition. In an interview last week, Simms, who is retired from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, said he will run partly because he feels it’s important to have a member of a minority on Village Council. He has enjoyed his time on Council, and said he does not bring an interest in specific issues but rather will “take it as it comes,” and listen to recommendations from Village staff.

“I don’t get overly upset about the interests of special groups,” he said. “I consider what’s best for the whole community.”

Villager Talis Gage, a local landscaper and activist in the Greene County Black Lives Matter group, has also taken out a petition for a Village Council seat. This week Gage said he’s running because he believes many villagers feel overlooked by Council, and he wants to ensure their concerns are heard.

“Some people feel their voices aren’t heard, and I want to make sure they don’t feel ignored,” he said.

In the race for school board, the seats of incumbents Sean Creighton and Sylvia Ellison are open in the election. Continuing to serve for two more years are Aïda Merhemic, Steve Conn and Evan Scott.

Creighton is running for his third four-year term on the board, having served as president for one term. The president of the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, or SOCHE, Creighton says he is running because he believes he brings to the board a working knowledge of educational challenges and opportunities, a deep caring for local students and schools (he has three children in the public schools), a sense of humor and a collaborative style.

Ellison, who is completing her first four-year term, is also running again, she said this week. Ellison, who teaches public health at Wright State University, wants to stay on the board because she “has a lot of faith in the current administration, board and teachers” and wants to support their efforts to implement the 2020 Strategic Plan, especially regarding curricular changes such as project-based learning.

No other candidates have expressed interest so far in the school board race.

On the Miami Township Trustees, the seat of longtime Trustee Chris Mucher is open, along with the remaining two years of the late John Eastman’s term, which was filled by former Trustee Lamar Spracklen when Eastman died in December. Mucher has filed to run again, and Spracklen has filed to complete the remaining two years of Eastman’s term. Newcomer Zo Van Eaton Meister, who ran two years ago for the seat, has also filed to run. Mark Crockett will remain on the board, with two years left in his term.

In an interview this week, Mucher said he believes it’s especially important in this election to elect Trustees “with experience and institutional knowledge” to complete unfinished projects. At the end of this year, Mucher will have been a Trustee for 19 years, having completed four full terms and one partial term.

The unfinished projects include finding and developing a site for a new Township fire station and completing the digitalization of all records from Miami Township’s four cemeteries, so that the records are available online, according to Mucher.

Spracklen could not be reached for comment.

Van Eaton Meister’s interest in running for the Trustee seat stems from her grandparents having lived on an area farm, and her “passion for preservation” of farmland and greenspace, along with concern that the Township makes “intelligent changes regarding development.” Van Eaton Meister is a licensed mental health counselor who sees running for public office as an important expression of faith in the democratic process.

Yellow Springs Mayor David Foubert, running unopposed so far for his 13th term, has served as mayor for 24 years. He’s running again because he enjoys serving the community, he said, and he believes in the value of a local mayor’s court.

“It’s important that people in the community are judged and heard and helped by someone local,” he said, rather than in the county court system in Xenia.

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