PIQUA — Local candidates made their cases at the annual Meet the Candidates Night held at the YWCA on Wednesday evening, providing stances on hot-button issues like the future roundabout.
All seven write-in candidates for the Piqua City Commission were in attendance, along with candidates for the Piqua Board of Education, answering questions from the audience and simply introducing themselves to the community.
Commission candidates on the spot
Even though the write-in candidates for the Piqua City Commission are running for specific seats, ward 3 and ward 4, all Piqua voters will have a chance to vote for both of those commission seats on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Jack Bastian, a candidate for the ward 3 commission seat, went first with his opening statement. A military veteran, Bastian has had experience working as a police officer, social worker/counselor for Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, a business owner, a private investigator, and more.
“I’m very proud of my community,” Bastian said, adding that he was happy with the direction the city is taking to impact the daily lives of residents.
Bradley Boehringer, a candidate for ward 3, asked the audience, “What is your image of Piqua?” For himself, he said, “My image of Piqua is where everybody’s voice is heard.”
Boehringer said he doesn’t “pull punches” and wants to move the city of Piqua forward.
David Jones, a candidate for ward 3, spent seven years in the United States Marine Corps. before graduating from California State University in 1980. Jones is retired from the U.S. Postal Service and Home Depot. Jones ended his introduction by saying, “I am the best candidate for the job.”
Kris Lee, a candidate for ward 3, is a lifelong Piqua resident who wants to focus on economic development for the city.
“I love this town. I was born and raised here,” Kris Lee said. “I worked at the Piqua Police Department and retired successfully after 26 years.” Kris Lee said that he believed in service to the community, adding, “I believe in Piqua. I believe Piqua is moving forward.”
The ward 4 candidates began with Timothy Lee, another lifelong resident open to change for the city, saying, “Things can’t just stay the same.”
David Short, a candidate for ward 4, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Desert Storm, a retired Piqua police officer, and a member of the board for the Miami County Recovery Council. Short currently works as a bailiff at the Miami County Courthouse.
“I saw a need to step up and, once again, serve my community,” Short said.
Joseph Sorrell, a candidate for ward 4, was also born and raised in Piqua and has worked for Jackson Tube Services for approximately 11 years.
“I think Piqua’s going in the right direction,” Sorrell said.
A question from the audience put commission candidates on the spot when they were asked if they were for or against the roundabout that will be constructed at the intersection of Looney and Garbry roads.
“Some are designed fine, and some are designed not so fine,” Jones said. “They do eliminate the possibility of stoplights.” He added later, without saying yes or no to the question, that “roundabouts are not my favorite thing,” but this roundabout “could be a good thing.”
“I was totally, totally against it,” Kris Lee said about the roundabout, explaining that stance was before he did research and spoke with city officials about it. He cited studies where roundabouts encourage business growth and how roundabouts reduce traffic congestion.
“I think it’s a good thing to have it there,” Kris Lee said.
“Statistically, yes, they are safer,” Timothy Lee said. He said that the accidents that occur at roundabouts have less damage and trauma. “I’m a forward-thinking person,” Timothy Lee said. He added that, if businesses will follow, “Let’s do it.”
“I’m not a big fan of the roundabout,” Short said, adding that he has not studied the design of the roundabout.
Sorrell said he was for the roundabout, citing the grant the city received to build it.
Bastian, originally from the United Kingdom, is for the roundabout, saying, “I was born and raised around roundabouts. I love roundabouts. The traffic flow is great. You don’t have red lights. You don’t have stop signs.”
Boehringer, who is against the roundabout, posed the strongest opinion against the roundabout. He claimed the city used outdated data to justify the roundabout, and he also claimed that the traffic count in that data was inflated.
BOE candidates on PCS
The four candidates running for election on the Piqua Board of Education, including two candidates on the ballot and two write-in candidates, also took their turns speaking at the Meet the Candidates Night.
Andy Hite, currently a sitting board of education member, said right away that he was running for re-election because “we have a lot of unfinished business I feel very strongly about.”
Hite said he believes that Piqua City Schools (PCS) are taking “positive steps” for students and that the administrative team and teachers work well together.
Hite added that, as site manager of Johnston Farm, “I’m fortunate each day to interact with many of our students.” He also has been involved in the schools as a teacher and parent.
Kelly McMaken, who is also on the ballot, has lived in Piqua for 13 years and has two children attending PCS.
“I am a volunteer in the community, and I am a volunteer in the schools,” she said.
McMaken said her interest in running for a seat on the board “arose from the positive experience both of our children have had thus far” at PCS. She added that she could “add a strong parental voice to the board as well as female perspective” and wanted to help students and staff at PCS.
Nicholas Alexander, a write-in candidate for the board, graduated from Piqua High School in 1998 and has two children enrolled in PCS.
“I don’t agree with some of what a lot of people say about Piqua City Schools,” Alexander said. “I look at the rates of the state report cards for the last 10 years, and we have been near the bottom.”
Alexander said that PCS has the lowest graduation rates in the county. “We should not be the Dayton public school system of Miami County,” he said, adding later, “We need to move forward by strengthening our schools.”
Sean Ford, a write-in candidate for the board, is the executive director of Piqua United Way and also has children enrolled in PCS.
“I’m fully invested in Piqua City Schools,” Ford said, who graduated from PHS in 1997. Ford said he wanted to make sure that his children and the rest of the children attending PCS “will receive the best education possible.”
In addition to local candidates, members of the YWCA gave brief explanations on State Issues 1 and 2.
Scott Myers, executive director of the Miami County Parks District, and Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson also gave presentations on replacement and renewal levies on the ballot.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336