Six citizens file to fill First Ward City Council seat

Recent Bowling Green City Council meeting

Six Bowling Green citizens have filed to fill the seat vacated by First Ward Councilman Daniel Gordon.

Wednesday afternoon was the deadline for applications for anyone interested in the seat. The six candidates will go before the City Council Committee of the Whole on Monday at 6 p.m. Council will then vote to fill the seat at its 7 p.m. meeting.

The applicants are: Connor Goodpaster, Mark Hollenbaugh, Neocles Leontis, Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup, Madison Stump and Hunter Sluss.

Following are brief descriptions of each applicant.

Connor Goodpaster, of 221 Leroy Ave., has lived in the First Ward for a little over a year and plans to stay there to raise his family. He moved to Bowling Green in 2013 to pursue his bachelor’s degree and “fell in love with the town.”

Goodpaster and his wife both earned their master’s degrees at BGSU, his in public administration. While working on his master’s degree, he worked with community organizations like United Way and the Wood County Continuum of Care trying to solve problems within the community.

If selected, Goodpaster said he would like to work on an agenda that will help the city retain BGSU grads, diversify the economy, and promote development to help the city offset budgeting constraints due to state funding cuts.

Mark Hollenbaugh, of 315 Parkview Drive, is a familiar face to City Council, having served as the First Ward member from January 2010 to December 2011. Hollenbaugh is a history and government teacher at North Baltimore Local Schools.

Hollenbaugh said that as a former council member, he has both the constituent knowledge and experience to represent the First Ward citizens. Since he periodically attends council meeting, he said he would be able to quickly be up to speed on issues facing the city.

Hollenbaugh has also served on several city boards, such as the City Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Committee, Charter Review Committee, and is involved in the Community Action Plan.

Neocles Leontis, 119 N. Summit St., has lived in the First Ward since 1996 and has been employed as a professor of chemistry at BGSU since 1987. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate classes, he carries out scientific research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Leontis is involved in several community organizations including Bowling Green Kiwanis, East Side Residential Group, Black Swamp Green Team, and Peace Lutheran Church. He is faculty adviser to the BGSU Environmental Action Group.

Leontis has been an advocate for making Bowling Green more energy efficient and sustainable. If selected, he would be interested in helping with more measures to make Bowling Green a healthy, economical and thriving place to live and raise a family.

Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup, of 812 N. Summit St., works as a non-medical case manager for Equitas Health, making sure people living with HIV/AIDS can access the services they need.

He has volunteered with Bowling Green community organizations like the Cocoon, La Conexion, Not In Our Town, It’s On Us, and serving on the city’s Human Relations Commission.

Ochoa-Kaup believes he can help represent Bowling Green’s diverse community. He currently serves on the Executive Board of Equality Toledo, bringing a voice to the Latino community and transgender community. He also co-facilitates a support group for transgender youth.

Madison Stump, 724 N. Enterprise St., believes she is well-suited to serve the First Ward because she worked as an intern with former council member Daniel Gordon, and because she is a BGSU student working toward a degree in environmental policy and analysis.

Stump said she could provide a fresh perspective on council, as the city works to attract young professionals to move to Bowling Green. She is part of the population that the Community Action Plan is directed at, Stump said.

Stump is director of governmental relations for BGSU Undergraduate Student Government, where she has served as liaison between the city, USG and BGSU administrators. Stump said she is also familiar with City Council, having regularly attended meetings for a year.

Hunter Sluss, 433 Thurstin Ave., is an entrepreneur and student with more than five years of experience working in the amusement park industry. He works as a supervisor of guest services at Cedar Point.

Sluss ran against Gordon for the First Ward council seat in 2017. That experience gave him the opportunity to hear the concerns from many constituents of that ward, he said.

Sluss is currently president of the Catholic Falcon Community at BGSU, where he serves as liaison between the university and St. Thomas More University Parish.