Local elections— Two Miami Township Trustee seats in play
- Published: June 29, 2021
This is the second article in a series about local government elections in November. A report focusing on the Yellow Springs school board is forthcoming.
Two out of three Miami Township Trustee seats — those currently held by Mark Crockett and Don Hollister — are in play in the upcoming elections this November.
While Hollister is leaning toward a re-election bid, stating that it is “not for sure, but highly probable” that he will run again, the News could not confirm whether longtime Township Trustee Mark Crockett will be seeking another term. Crockett is currently a resident at Friends Care Center and navigating health issues, though he remains active in online Trustee meetings. The other Township Trustee, Chris Mucher, has two more years on his four-year term.
Only one community member has announced plans to run so far. The filing deadline is Aug. 4.
Trustees oversee the basic, but critical, public needs of the township, including fire and emergency medical services. They also have responsibility for “parks and recreation, zoning, cemeteries, waste disposal, maintaining roads and more,” according to the township website.
Mucher, who was first appointed to the three-person board in 1997 and subsequently was returned to office each election since, said emails, phone calls, texts and frequent meetings also are part of the job.
“Township Trustee is a very hands-on job,” Mucher said in a recent interview. “I’ve been out there in the middle of the night and plowed roads in a snowstorm when the regular people were tired. I’ve gone out at night and cut up a tree that fell across the road and pulled it off to the side so [drivers] can get by,” he said.
Completing his first term as a Trustee, Hollister said the job has many facets.
“It’s such a wide range of concerns — from cemeteries [and] roads [to] what kind of fire truck” is needed, he said in a separate interview.
Much of their focus, like road and cemetery maintenance, isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s necessary, Hollister said.
“Township trustees are typically in the background,” he noted, adding that in recent months they have garnered more public attention than usual with the construction of the new firehouse and the sale of the former station.
As a paid elected official, compensation for Miami Township Trustees is about $1,000 a month, as determined by state regulations.
Trustee work over the years
After 27 years on the job, Chris Mucher said he still enjoys the work and finds satisfaction in directly serving his community.
“It is probably the most local of all governmental subdivisions out there for the work. I like that part of it,” he said. “I also like the hands-on part of it. I get to be involved in virtually everything. I don’t sit at a desk a whole lot, I’m pretty much out there, sometimes having to help with something. I find that fulfilling.”
Collaboration and professional development are also significant for Mucher.
“I also like the fact that I can expand my horizons to some degree. I am involved with regional organizations, county organizations,” he said, noting that he is chairman of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, a five-county organization.
Mucher said he has seen very few changes during his tenure regarding the roles and responsibilities of the trustees.
“The basic needs generally don’t go away; they stay the same,” he said. “The grass needs to be mowed, the roads need to be plowed, someone who has a heart attack needs to have an ambulance come and take care of them.”
The biggest changes have occurred in emergency management, using lifesaving technology, he noted.
“The response times are faster, the equipment is much better, the training is 50 times more than it was 50 years ago. It’s just far and away a lot different and a lot better,” Mucher said. “We just do not lose patients like we did in the old days,” he added.
Improved response times and lifesaving measures occur when people don’t fear the exorbitant costs often associated with ambulance rides to the hospital.
Bolstering Mucher’s information about improved services, Township Fiscal Officer Margaret Silliman wants any resident who faces a medical emergency to never hesitate to call 911 for assistance.
“Miami Township doesn’t charge for the ride. We only charge if people have insurance,” said Silliman, who has served as the Township’s fiscal officer since 1999.
An agricultural community
Navigating between agricultural production and land development, the township created a comprehensive land use plan in 2012, a copy of which is located on the township website.
Fundamentally, the Township seeks to retain its rural character, but that doesn’t mean development can’t happen, Mucher said.
“We’re not discouraging development at all, but we’re just encouraging development to happen in the best possible place that doesn’t hurt either the agriculture or the people who would be living in the development,” he said. “We want development to happen within the urban service boundary of the village of Yellow Springs or as close to the village as can be possible,” he added.
Hollister supports the Township’s focus in maintaining the agricultural nature of the area.
“My personal position is to affirm the current policy that we view this in terms of percentage of land use,” Hollister said. “I want this to continue to be an agricultural township. Not a suburb. Not an exurb. I would promote denser development in Yellow Springs using the current utility structure rather than making it bigger, but I don’t have any control over that as a trustee,” he added.
The Trustees see a possible threat to the local rural landscape in the proposed 1,500-acre solar project that, if approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, would be constructed near Wilberforce-Clifton Road.
“The industrial solar proposal is huge,” Hollister said.
Supporting local infrastructure
One of the original roles for which townships were created was to care for the most vulnerable in the community. Miami Township has continued that function, according to Mucher, providing community support for residents experiencing financial difficulties because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through CARES Act funding passed during the 2020 pandemic, the township has contributed around $70,000 to help cover the costs of overdue utilities, mortgage and rent.
Although additional funding was not made available through a second $1.9 trillion CARES Act bill passed by Congress last winter, Mucher remains hopeful that some funding can be secured for the township.
“I know Gov. DeWine is sensitive to the townships not getting any funding. There may be a way that he can earmark some of those to come down to the townships,” said Mucher, who is the governor’s brother-in-law.
Mucher is also looking toward Greene County for potential assistance.
“I’ve also been petitioning our county commissioners to share some of theirs,” Mucher said of the most recent CARES Act distribution. “They got $33 million. They’ve also got another $30 million in what’s called a rainy-day fund, so now they are sitting on almost $60 million. I’ve kind of been pushing them to share a little bit with townships, and that would be nice,” he said.
The election process
Miami Township includes Yellow Springs and Clifton, and candidates for trustee are nominated by petition through a nonpartisan process. Trustees elected to office will serve a four-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2022. All candidates must be 18 years old by the date of the general election and live in the township.
If a resident is interested in running for Miami Township Trustee, they would need to submit a petition containing 25 valid signatures and a $30 filing fee to the Greene County Board of Elections by 4 p.m. Aug. 4, 90 days before the general election. The petition form required for Township elections is Form 3-R: Nominating Petition — Township Office — for individual candidates, and can be obtained through the Greene County Board of Elections Office website.
In past elections, candidates have been disqualified for not following the petition process as laid out in the Ohio secretary of state’s Candidate Requirement Guide. While the guide states that “no nominating petition shall be accepted for filing if it appears to contain signatures aggregating in number more than three times the minimum number of signatures required,” Hollister stressed that potential candidates should be thorough in collecting signatures to avoid mistakes that would disqualify them from running.
“Get extra signatures, lots of extra signatures,” said Hollister, who previously served as the Greene County Democratic Election Board chairman.
Making sure that the dates are correct on the petition is also important, he said.
“If someone has the wrong day when they sign, it might invalidate all the next signatures,” Hollister said. “Therefore, it’s good to have twice as many signatures.”
Hollister offered this advice for anyone considering running for office when navigating the ins and outs of the election process: “I think this would also apply to Village Council and the school board. Run for the office and not against anybody. You don’t want to be in a position of having been against somebody else who got elected,” he said.
Trustee candidacy announced
Longtime village resident Marilan Moir has announced her plans to run for a trustee seat. Moir, who has lived in the village for 30 years, has a degree in agricultural science from The Ohio State University. She has been a biology and environmental sciences teacher at Belmont High School in Dayton for 20 years.
Moir has two grown children, and together with her spouse, Dawn Cooksey, is raising their youngest, a fourth grader who attends Mills Lawn.
Moir is in the petitioning process, collecting the signatures required to have her name added to the November ballot, and will be at Pride Fest on Saturday, June 26, to collect signatures.
An article focusing on the candidates, including more details about Moir, will run closer to the election.