By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Three of the four wards in Bowling Green have contested races for City Council. The only unopposed candidate in Tuesday’s election is the Third Ward’s Mike Aspacher.
Two candidate forums have already been held in the city. So rather than ask the candidates to talk about the same topics, BG Independent News asked all of them to talk about their top three priorities if elected to City Council.
Following are brief descriptions of each contested ward candidate and their priorities. The answers for the at-large candidates appeared on Tuesday.
First Ward: Two candidates are running for one seat.
Daniel Gordon, Democrat, who currently serves on City Council, manages Inner Peace Homes, a local foster care/adoption agency. He has two degrees from BGSU. He led the creation of Ridge Park, the first park in the First Ward, pushed city government to improve housing, and shaped legislation defending marginalized communities. Gordon’s priorities are:
- Revitalize neighborhoods in the city, especially on the East Side. Gordon said he has been working on this issue for a long time, and now the new Community Action Plan will support those efforts. “I want to make sure everybody lives in a safe and strong neighborhood.”
- Create jobs that will keep young people here in Bowling Green. “We need job creation, that will pay a living wage,” he said. The lack of those type of jobs is causing recent graduates and others to leave the community. “No one should have to choose between living in Bowling Green and living above the poverty line.”
- Make Bowling Green a welcoming community. The city needs to continue making diverse populations feel welcome here, Gordon said. “So they feel just as safe and valued as anyone else in Bowling Green.”
Hunter Sluss, Republican, is a fourth year student at BGSU. He currently serves as president of Catholic Falcon Community on campus. He is in the process of applying to the BGSU Hatch program with multiple business product concepts. He believes in keeping Christ at the center of city legislation. Sluss’ priorities are:
- Promote open communication between the city and BGSU students. As a student, Sluss said he could be a voice and a link between students and full-time residents. “I want people to feel safe in coming to me.”
- Encourage more entrepreneurship. He would like to create more partnerships between local businesses and students. “I’m interested in getting all local businesses to participate in this,” and possibly sponsor student entrepreneurs, he said.
- Focus on city – not national issues. Sluss said City Council needs to put its attention on topics like roads and city taxes, not on far removed national issues.
Second Ward: Two candidates are running for one seat.
Kent Ramsey, Republican, is a recent graduate of BGSU, who is now taking online classes with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He works with the H2O Church in Bowling Green. Ramsey’s priorities are:
- Offer a fresh look at city government. “Obviously, I’d have a lot to learn,” Ramsey said. But as a recent graduate, he said he could provide a new voice on City Council. “I could give a fresh perspective in the city council room.”
- Focus more on local issues. Ramsey said he would bring an “element of focus” to city issues, rather than dealing with national issues that don’t really affect Bowling Green.
- Act as a voice for university students. He vowed to listen more to students and express their concerns in city government. “I want to give the students more of an ear and a voice.”
John Zanfardino, Democrat, currently serves on City Council representing the Second Ward. He has two degrees from BGSU, and is retired. He is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and is a long-time volunteer at the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Zanfardino’s priorities are:
- Examine solutions to housing issues. Other college communities in Ohio conduct housing inspections to ensure safe rental units for students and others who lease their homes. “I would vote for licensing and inspections,” he said. “There needs to be some accountability. I’m willing to go as far as Bowling Green will go.”
- Address property value declines. While the Community Action Plan “has some real promising concepts for East Wooster,” it doesn’t address existing housing issues. Zanfardino would like to see improvements on the code enforcement on properties.
- Continue monitoring the city’s general fund. “I’m really curious to see how the coming year goes for garbage collection,” he said, since council recently enacted a trash pickup fee to help the declining general fund. Zanfardino would like to see efforts to incentivize landowners to reduce their landfill waste.
Fourth Ward: Two candidates are running for one seat.
William Herald, Republican, works as a lead data scientist with IBM Watson Health, and previously taught at BGSU, University of Toledo and Owens. He has four university degrees. He served eight years as Fourth Ward council member from 1984 to 1991. He has faithfully attended council and other city governmental meetings for the past 11 years. Herald’s priorities are:
- Improve drainage issues. Herald said during his more than 3,000 door-to-door visits with citizens, the top concern he heard in the Fourth Ward was about drainage problems. He plans to approach the city utilities department about conducting a serious study of drainage issues and possible solutions.
- Keep a close eye on the city budget. “We need to have constant vigilance to make sure we are in budget,” Herald said. “We need to make sure we don’t overspend, and make sure what we do spend is spent wisely.”
- Work on neighborhood revitalization – and not just on the East Side of the city. “We should be constantly aware of issues and constantly improving.” He stressed that all of the city’s neighborhoods need attention. By making himself accessible to residents, Herald is hoping citizens are comfortable coming to him with concerns.
Scott Seeliger, Democrat, currently serves on City Council for the Fourth Ward. He was assistant football coach, director of corporate development, and associate athletic director at BGSU. Upon retirement from BGSU, he then served as head football coach and athletic director at Bowling Green High School. He has a degree in mathematics. Seeliger’s priorities are:
- Focus on economic development. “We need to attract businesses in here,” Seeliger said.
- Work on more effective collaboration with the university. He pointed out the success of the state BCI lab on campus, and said more projects like that may be possible to bring in business to Bowling Green. He noted the possibilities of job creation on the land formerly used as the BGSU golf course.
- Provide more affordable housing. “I think we have young professionals coming in here, and I don’t think there are enough homes in the $175,000 to $225,000 category,” he said. The city needs to work on more contemporary housing, and possibly townhouse complexes for young professionals.