PIQUA — With Lucy Fess, Piqua’s current mayor and representative for the 5th Ward, not running for re-election this Nov. 3, residents will be choosing between Kathryn “Kazy” Hinds and Gary Michael Koenig. Each of the candidates poses a number of advantages and benefits, making the race for mayor and 5th Ward city of Piqua Commissioner a tight one.
In the city of Piqua, a resident must first be a commissioner in order to be mayor as well. Voters should be mindful of this at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3, as whomever wins the race for city of Piqua 5th Ward Commissioner will automatically win this race for mayor as well.
Hinds, a resident of Piqua for approximately seven years, is currently the pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
“As a pastor in the parish setting for the past 15 years, I have worked diligently to remind folks in my parish of what we hold in common,” Hinds said. “In our city, we also see things differently from time to time, but the important thing is that we are all part of Piqua. We must hold that forefront, and we must listen to all voices, so together we can seek the best way for us, as a city, to move forward.”
Hinds also is known for being the chairperson of the successful Safety Service Levy Campaign in the fall of 2014, along with being the co-chairperson of the successful School Renewal Levy Campaign in the spring of 2014.
“I have many years of experience in group process and working collaboratively with others … In my profession, I have always led as a team player and know what it takes to get things done as a group,” Hinds said. Hinds promised to work together with her fellow commissioners if elected.
Hinds also went on, explaining her skills as a public speaker.
“I have skills as a public speaker, and I also have parliamentary skills,” Hinds said. “I know how to lead, run a meeting and, more importantly, to kept the meeting moving.”
Hinds is also known for her involvement in Citizens for a Better Piqua and Positively Promoting Piqua, continuing to promote their joint “Pass the Positive” award and bring awareness to people’s beneficial and optimistic contributions to the community.
“I am seeking office because I am excited about what has been happening here in our city, and I want to help in the continuation of our forward movement,” Hinds said.
Hinds is also known for her involvement in the Bike Piqua Cyclovia and her attendance at numerous community events, such as the 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit and the recent grassroots “Bridge Builders” meeting.
“I attended the River Summit in Dayton this year and the Cycling Summit … in both of these gatherings folks from all over the region shared their excitement about what was happening here in Piqua,” Hinds said. “In both of these conferences, Piqua was often referred to in conversations and presentations as a place to keep an eye on because of the good things that are happening here in Piqua.”
Hinds went on, saying that she has heard people talking about the Piqua community and local events.
“It is true that other communities are looking to us now to help their upward movement as well,” Hinds said.
If elected, Hinds will be focused on budgetary concerns, making sure she is available and approachable to all residents, and addressing drug use in the community.
“City budgetary concerns are the top of any taxpayers list,” Hinds said. “For the past 15 years, I have been responsible for balancing budgets and expenditures both in the church and in my board positions in many non-for-profit agencies.”
Hinds promised to have an “open-door policy” as mayor and 5th Ward city of Piqua Commissioner.
“One of my biggest goals is to bring our city together, so we can get to know our neighbors. Not just the ones next door or down the street, but the ones that live on a different side of town from us,” Hinds said. “My goal … is to help bring our community closer together and deepen the relationships we have with one another.”
About drugs, Hinds said, “To support their habit, heroin users will resort to theft, which is a reason there’s so much petty theft and criminal damage within our community. Many times the neighborhood robberies and car hijackings we see here in Piqua are done to provide a quick way to get money to support an addiction. We must address the issue of drugs here in our community. We must talk about it, educate our community about it, and not ignore the problem because it is here and we must do something about it.”
Lastly, Hinds supports the renewal tax levy for the Piqua Public Library and serves on the Library Renewal Levy Committee.
“When family and friends visit Piqua, the library is one of the first places I take them,” Hinds said. “It is full of Piqua history, serves as an gallery of local art, and provides a place where you can do so much more than check out a book. All in Piqua are welcome to use our library, it is free and open to everyone. The services our library provides are varied and necessary for the growth of our community.”
Overall, Hinds pointed out the respect she has for Piqua.
“I love Piqua, and I want all of our citizens to say with me that they not only love Piqua … they cherish Piqua,” Hinds said.
Koenig, a resident of Piqua for over 20 years, works as a civil engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He is also known for his involvement in the community, such as volunteering for the city of Piqua Planning Commission, volunteering for the city of Piqua Housing Council, participating in the first Piqua Government Academy, and attending numerous Piqua City Commission meetings and work sessions. Koenig is also not a new candidate, having previously run for city of Piqua 5th Ward Commissioner in 2011.
Koenig is also known for his extensive background in civil engineering.
“My qualifications start after I graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science Degree and was commissioned as an officer and spent 10 years in the Army in tanks,” Koenig said. Koenig then earned a master’s degree in civil engineering and worked for the next 10 years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building locks and dams, parks, roads and reservoirs, he said.
“My family settled in Piqua after my retirement from the U.S. Army about 20 years ago,” Koenig said. Koenig has continued working as a licensed professional civil engineer for the last 20 years.
“I work in the civil engineering department [at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base] which is responsible for roads, building design and construction, facility planning, and utilities – basically, the same services that the city of Piqua provides to its citizens,” Koenig said. “My job is to take problems and turn them into solutions.” Koenig explained that he also leads a team that adopts civil engineering “Best Practices” for the entire U.S. Air Force.
“I have found a real connection between how the city operates day-to-day and the work that I have been doing for the last 20 years,” Koenig said. “I am the best-qualified candidate as I will leverage my work experience to provide outstanding city services to the city of Piqua … It is a good fit to my leadership background and lifetime of service.”
In regard to Koenig’s priorities, he promised to represent the views of Piqua residents. He is seeking to gather input from residents about how they feel about the city of Piqua and find ways to provide them with solutions to any issues.
“There is no greater use of time than gathering citizen input, evaluating the feedback and developing plans to improve the level of service to the citizens of Piqua,” Koenig said.
The budget will also be a focus for Koenig.
“We need to prioritize the city budget to provide outstanding services to the citizens,” Koenig said. “It will be a significant issue to keep the city of Piqua budget balanced over the next four years.”
Koenig also discussed promoting economic development, both by continuing to improve Piqua as well as bringing Piqua to attention of those outside of the community.
“Promoting economic development and bringing good-paying jobs to Piqua is critical,” Koenig said. “I will market Piqua in the Miami Valley Region. I am a big fan of the Riverfront Development Project which will be a ‘Win-Win’ for the city of Piqua.”
In addition to marketing Piqua, Koenig also promised to “work diligently to advertise our ‘shovel ready’ public private developments to bring more good jobs to Piqua.”
Lastly, Koenig is also a supporter for the renewal tax levy for the Piqua Public Library.
“The Piqua Public Library is a great asset to the community and needs our support,” Koenig said.
Overall, Koenig has found a sense of pride in Piqua, not just with himself but with other residents as well.
“I have found that most people are excited and positive about living in the city of Piqua,” Koenig said. “The city of Piqua has been making outstanding progress over the last few years in providing service to its citizens. We must ‘maintain the momentum’ from the progress made in the last few years. We must keep ‘raising the bar’ on city services over the next four years but keep them affordable.”
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall