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ASHLAND -- In the city of Ashland, two current council members face challengers this November.
Voters will choose between incumbent Dan Lawson and Sandra L. Bally for their council-at-large representative and between current council president Steve N. Workman and Duane R. Fishpaw, who formerly served as the city’s interim mayor, for first ward council representative.
The city of Ashland’s finance director Larry Paxton and law director Richard P. Wolfe each are running unopposed for re-election.
Ashland City Council’s at-large councilman, Dan Lawson says he hopes voters will recognize and take into consideration his “record of service” as they go to the polls.
Lawson is running for his first election this November, after he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Matt Miller in early 2018, as Miller had won the mayoral election in Nov. 2017.
“I think my record of service these past two years speaks to my qualifications for this position,” Lawson said. “However, I have advanced training and education in the dynamics of organizational leadership, organizational theory, and organizational design.
“I understand people and have advanced certifications in multiple assessment tools that allow me to diagnose complicated government decisions. I simply want to bring the expanse of my knowledge and experience to serve the people of Ashland.”
In the past two years, Lawson highlights “tremendous, new changes” that have happened in Ashland. He cites growth in new jobs, economic growth and a “significant improvement” in the quality of life in Ashland.
“We are removing buildings in our city that have become a detriment, a hazard, or even a threat to safety and welfare of the people in our city,” Lawson said. “There are great new opportunities ahead of us as we expand our utilities under 71, and as we complete the Wells Road extension to increase the size of our industrial park.”
As a city councilman, Lawson said, he learned the severity of Ashland’s workforce shortage, which he also sees throughout all of north central Ohio. He says that since then, he’s taken steps to fill jobs through his position at Ashland University and through his role on council..
“The workforce shortage is exacerbated by the fact that we also have a housing shortage in the City of Ashland,” he said. “Again, through connections I have made in other areas of my career, I have had contact with developers whom I have introduced the City of Ashland, and to the mayor, for the purpose of gaining their interest in building new apartments and developing more housing in Ashland.”
If elected, Lawson would like to further develop for housing and industry in Ashland.
“I envision a walkable community in a revitalized downtown where people will want to live, work, shop and play,” Lawson said.
He also mentioned intentions to “solidify and strengthen” the 911 emergency response for the city’s residents.
Lawson grew up on a farm near Wabash, Indiana. He enrolled at Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering and later transferred to Ashland College (now Ashland University) to prepare for his studies at Ashland Theological Seminary. He earned both his undergraduate and Master’s degree at Ashland College.
Then, he went on to pursue ministry opportunities in Pennsylvania, Indiana and later back to Ashland in 1999 to become a denominational executive for the Brethren Church.
He says he transitioned to work for Ashland University in 2003 and has held several positions there.
Lawson is a graduate of Leadership Ashland, member of the board for the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce and for the United Way of Ashland County. He is a volunteer chaplain for the city police department, a former part of the advisory committee for Ashland Theological Seminary and the president and founder of Petros Consulting Services.
“My appointment to this City Council is my first experience with city government, however, I have been deeply involved in the community… My devotion and commitment to the city and our community runs deep. It is a part of my life’s mission to give back more than I take,” Lawson said.
“This city council has gotten a lot of great things started and I simply want to keep that momentum going.”
Sandra L. Bally
Sandra L. Bally is running against Lawson for the Ashland City Council at-large seat because she believes she’d bring a “unique perspective” to the group.
A retired engineer and Ashland native, Bally says she chose to return to Ashland about five years ago and would “advocate for the people of this great city,” if elected.
Bally ran for Ashland City Council’s fourth ward seat once before and didn’t win. She recalls family circumstances complicated her campaign. Her mother was hospitalized and has since passed.
She says she attends council meetings regularly, school board meetings frequently and as many city meetings as possible.
“You get to know what’s going on by doing that. You have to be there,” she said.
Bally mentioned a desire to see council representatives at more city meetings. If elected, she says she’d attend many, as often as possible.
“(Being retired), I have the energy and the time. And, I have enough experience in the business world, and my psychology background helps in terms of talking to people,” Bally said.
Also, he’d like to further engage with the public and suggests taking questions from those who watch the city’s council meetings via Facebook live.
“That’s one of the things I’d like to do if I get to be on council. I want to make sure there’s more input from the citizens and for them to be engaged more, to somehow to let them feel more included,” Bally said. “There just seems like there should be more engagement than there is.”
Long term, she wants to develop and keep updating an “at least ten year” vision for the city.
“I think you need to go that far because things go slow, they take a while to percolate, to develop,” she said.
She also promises to investigate “better paying jobs -- not the cheap jobs.” She’s interested in marketing Ashland to a company tied to solar energy or another forward-thinking concept.
Bally was born in Ashland and moved to Cincinnati while in middle school. She graduated from high school in Cincinnati and went to the University of Cincinnati to study psychology and later chemical engineering.
Upon graduation, she was employed with General Motors in Dayton, Ohio for more than 22 years as an engineer.
She moved to Ashland an estimated five years ago.
FIRST WARD CANDIDATES
Current Ashland City Council president and first ward councilman, Steve Workman says he is seeking re-election this November with intentions to continue the “momentum of positive improvements” in Ashland.
Workman was appointed unanimously by the city council as 1st Ward Councilman in January 2017 and the following year, he was nominated and elected president of the council.
“Over the past two years we have experienced a renewed spirit of unity, a focus of effort and community support in making Ashland a city of excellence,” he said.
If elected, he says he would look to continue the overall cleanup of city, facilitate and address the need for increased housing, continue to facilitate economic development and support the demolition of the Hess and Clark building after the Pump House demolition is completed.
Further, he says, he’d continue to review the consideration of returning the 911 Dispatch to Ashland.
Long term, he says he’d support the creation of a financial plan for future street paving and sidewalk maintenance throughout the city and address many storm drainage issues that have been brought to council’s attention.
In reflecting on his nearly two years on council, Workman named a dozen things he’s already accomplished.
During that time, he said, council has successfully enacted legislation in support of the following: the rural city-owned land sale, generating $2.5 million; a bond issuance to facilitate the building of a second fire station, water tank rehabilitation, and extending city utilities across Rt 71 for economic expansion; the rebuild of new community tennis courts; the Pump House demolition; the rehabilitation of a city park’s pond and more.
He went on to say that he’s played a part in the forward progression of the rezoning of Commerce Parkway and the US 250 Corridor to facilitate future economic expansion; property rehabilitation and downtown economic improvements such as the Uniontown Alley and Weiss Drug demolition; the Center Run project to improve the city center and the sale of city land to Comtex Corporation for the creation of 75 to 100 jobs. The business’s grand opening is scheduled for December 2019.
He also highlighted how council addressed and reduced the Brookside Golf Course deficit by $200,000 per year. The course now has a new outdoor pavilion, newly paved cart paths, and improved management.
Workman was raised in Wooster, and has now lived in Ashland County and Ashland City 36 years.
He graduated from Wooster High School with two years of training in agricultural business from The Wayne County Career Center. He holds a degree in advanced finance from the Institute of Financial Education Chicago, IL and has completed a Business Development Program at the Charles F. Dolan International School of Business, Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT.
He has been employed in banking, accounting and finance for 37 years and is currently employed with Wenco Wendy’s Franchises as payroll specialist.
“The Ashland City Council is charged with financial oversight of a $60 million dollar budget. Having spent 37 years in financial analysis, I am well qualified to meet the requirements of city councilman,” Workman said. “Being well versed in matters of real estate and business development, as well as having a life-long commitment to community service are all qualities I bring to the city council.”
He is the current chairman of the Ashland County Planning Commission and Appleseed Community Mental Health Board and a current board member of the Ashland Community Improvement Corp. and the Ashland County Cancer Association.
His past roles include involvement with the United Way of Ashland County, the Kno-Ho-Co-Ashland Community Action Board, Ashland Board of Realtors, Ashland Housing Partners, Salvation Army and Habitat For Humanity of Ashland.
“It is an honor to serve as the current Ward 1 Councilman, as well as Council President. I deeply care about the future of our city and the generations to come,” he said.
Running against Workman for the first ward seat is a former councilman Duane Fishpaw, who believes his experience will be a benefit Ashland.
Fishpaw was first elected to Ashland City Council in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He served a portion of the second term, but was appointed mayor in 2017 to finish the term of Glen Stewart.
“I lost two years of my council positions when I took over as Mayor,” Fishpaw said. “I want to continue to push Ashland forward, with my experience, dedication, and lifelong commitment to my hometown.”
Under Fishpaw’s leadership as mayor, he highlighted how the city of Ashland acquired additional properties for the prospective development at the Ashland Business Park; furthered plans to extend water and sewer utilities beneath Interstate 71; facilitated hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment into the historic downtown district; and negotiated a donation of land for a satellite fire station, the sale of business park land for a new manufacturing facility and the expansion of another and tax incentives that have brought millions in investment and more than 100 jobs to the community.
Beyond this, he mentioned how the city implemented the first year of additional income tax funds for street rehabilitation and additional safety service personnel; adopted a software-based GIS work order tracking system and connected all city facilities to high speed fiber optic internet connection. He also notes that “the city of Ashland finally has a Chipotle” under his tenure.
“I wanted to continue to serve the residence and the employees who faithfully work for Ashland,” Fishpaw said.
Fishpaw was born and raised in Ashland. He is a 1972 graduate of Ashland High School. He married his nextdoor neighbor, Vickie and will celebrate their 45th anniversary this month.
He says his “commitment to service” has been “lifelong.” He spent four years in the United States Navy, 31 years in the Ashland Fire Department, 17 years as an assistant fire chief, 14 years as a paramedic, five years on Ashland City Council and one year as mayor.
He’s also held roles like president of the board of directors for the Council of Aging and is a member of the board for the Northern Ohio Arson Seminar.