An After-Election Update:
Congratulations to Tracy Kellums on his election win. My tenure as Trustee will end December 31. I extend my best wishes to Mr. Kellums and his family, and I encourage him to think freely and independently going forward now that he’s gotten the voters’ blessing.
I wanted to express some thanks here and provide some interesting election facts:
First, let me say thanks to everyone who came out to vote, and to the many, many kind people who volunteered their time and money to help out with the campaign in various ways and on election day. It’s been my great honor to be the recipient of that kindness and to serve our residents these past 4 years.
Second, According to the election night totals, I actually got 509 **more** votes in this election than in the election I won 4 years ago (and 469 more votes than Trustee Weidman got 2 years ago). But Mr. Kellums got even more this year, so that alone wasn’t enough for me to get a 2nd term.
I won the precincts encompassing Sturbridge, Heitmeyer Farms, and the All Saints/Moeller and Hosbrook/Euclid areas – one of them by nearly 2:1 (Sycamore E) – and I was within 6 votes of winning the Holiday Acres/Indian Creek precinct (K). And Mr. Kellums won by large margins in the Dillonvale/Deer Park Schools area and in Sycamore’s northern precincts.
You can see the results by precinct here: TOWNSHIP OF SYCAMORE For Township Trustee – Election Night Reporting (votehamiltoncountyohio.gov)
(The pre-election version of this page follows below.)
It’s 2023 and I’m running for reelection after my first term as Township Trustee. In 2019, Sycamore Township, Ohio voters honored me with their vote and selected me to be a Trustee. The Board of Trustees, which is made up of three elected members, is the governing body of the Township, and Trustees serve 4-year terms. I hope I’ve earned your trust and your confidence, and I would appreciate your vote in this November’s election.
Check out this Infographic for a quick overview of why you should vote for me.
As a quick introduction if you don’t know me, I’m an attorney and I’ve lived in Sycamore Township since 2001. I also practice law within the township from my office on Hosbrook Road, and my wife is a senior staff member at a retirement community located in the township. We’ve have raised our 4 kids here and they’ve gotten a fantastic K-12 education from our local public school district. We specifically looked for a house in Sycamore because it is a community with great neighborhoods, great schools, and low taxes. We’ve never regretted our choice.
I ran for Trustee in 2019 because I want to help our neighborhoods continue to be safe, pleasant places where we could all enjoy the benefits of our community, and I want to ensure that our businesses continued to thrive and grow. Doing that requires making a purposeful effort to maintain clear lines and buffers between our commercial and residential areas, and to have open, in-the-sunshine discussions and dealings whenever there’s been any reason to consider private or public development proposals which might encroach upon our neighborhoods or which might interfere with our residents’ quiet enjoyment of their homes within them. I’m proud to have accomplished those goals in my first term in office.
My election 4 years ago infused the Board of Trustees with some fresh ways of thinking and resulted in more open approaches as to how we were doing many things into our local government. Those things made our Township’s government more open and transparent, and I’ve worked to ensure that our residents recognize and understand that they have a real, participatory voice in what is happening. Even if they sometimes have disagreed with the Board’s choices, I’m proud to say that they’ve known we’d listened to them and took their concerns into account before making any final decisions as a Board.
When I first ran for office 4 years ago, the same group of people had been running things in the Township for a very long time – Sycamore Township’s own little “swamp,” if you will. I believed that was unhealthy and had led to some quietly corrupt practices — a notable example being the infamous “Beergate” fundraising scheme which ended in several Trustees from that time having to enter into a non-prosecution arrangement with the county prosecutor, agreeing to stop their campaign funding skullduggery in exchange for not being prosecuted. I set out once in office to try to ensure that sort of corrupt practice didn’t ever resume. And there’s been a lot of pushback about that at various times from those people (for example, a Township party precinct executive berated me with: ‘Why should we endorse you if you won’t let us sell beer at the Festival?‘). But I’m not a career politician and I don’t cater to that sort of nonsense. I will continue to call out corruption, petty or otherwise, whenever I see it.
One of my goals has also been to make sure the Board keeps a tight hand on our finances. That money belongs to the taxpayers and they rely upon the Board and the Fiscal Officer to ensure it is wisely spent.
Since my election, a lot has happened –Covid and its disruptions, among other things, and its impact on commercial real estate development in the Township– and a lot has changed for the better.
Open, Service-Oriented Government: Our Township’s government culture is more open and customer-service-oriented than ever, particularly as to our public meetings and our zoning and development processes. Public meetings are now livestreamed and archived on YouTube, making them much more accessible to all of our residents. Starting that video process after I took office in early 2020 left us ahead of other local governments when Covid erupted and the state shut many things down. And our video archive lets the public go back to see what happened in our meetings, and why. Plus, residents and property owners have found our zoning processes and staff to be much friendlier and more collaboratively focused over the last 4 years.
Spending: I’ve tried to keep us conservative and frugal in our spending, regularly questioning why we should be or actually are spending money on certain things, and personally auditing records of what the Township has done in the past to look for possible waste, fraud, and abuse. I’ve pushed for the Board and staff to reduce previously out-of-control Festival costs, and helped lead the effort to have the Township hold less-costly and privately-run events, including outdoor music and movie events during the pandemic. I also nudged the Board to cap the cost of a decorative Township bridge sign on the Snider Road/I-71 overpass that they voted to purchase and which I opposed (I thought it was a wasteful and frivolous six-figure expense, but unfortunately, the other two Trustees voted to go ahead with it and my opponent is also an enthusiastic supporter of it).
Financial Controls: After taking office, I pushed to have the Township involve volunteer professionals in looking over our finances and providing advice and recommendations to the Board and the Fiscal Officer, and for our staff to start providing monthly financial reports to the Board for the first time. Those reports give the Board a dashboard look at our finances, and we also publish them on the Township website for the public to view. They’ve been well-received and there hasn’t been much controversy as to them. But the Finance Committee has been another story: Our old Fiscal Officer wasn’t fond of the idea at all, and politics led my two Trustee colleagues to fire the volunteer members of the Finance Committee we’d set up. They pledged that we would immediately replace the committee, and we voted to recreate the committee and seek members. But over a year later, the Administrator is ‘still searching’ for applicants for it and hasn’t brought any potential members to the Board, so the Township’s finances still aren’t being reviewed or vetted by anyone except elected officials and staff. I’m happy that the entire current Board is at least on record as to the value of having a committee and I expect we’ll be working with our new Fiscal Officer to better utilize it in the near future, but I will continue to push the Administrator and my colleagues to get moving on that.
Following state and federal law: I take pride in being the Board member who you’ll find nagging the Administrator and staff about process, for things such as ensuring our annual TIF reporting is done in accordance with Ohio law and that we ensure we meet notice and quorum requirements before deciding anything. The Township wasn’t doing some of those things correctly until I spoke up and got it fixed. I also try to ensure we as a Board make a proper written record of everything that we do, so that there’s no mystery or confusion about that which could be misconstrued by the public later, or which might suggest the Board or a Trustee did something improper or illegal because the minutes or records don’t fully explain financial transactions or decisions.
In Ohio, the office of Township Trustee is a non-partisan one by law. It’s no secret that I’m a lifelong conservative Republican, or that I represent ALL of our residents and business stakeholders — not just those whose political views I might agree with or those who provide assistance or sign space to my campaign. My opponent is a Republican too who is very active as a party insider. He spent years in various leadership roles in the local Republican club and in helping to run and manage the Beergate hustle that the club quietly coordinated for the then-sitting Trustees until that corrupt practice was forced to end.
My opponent in this election is our sitting Township Administrator, who still holds that position while he’s now running for office to become his own boss. He’s a very nice guy, and I of course encourage you to check him out before making up your mind. You have probably met him before if you’ve lived in the Township for any time at all. He’s been a Township employee for about 40 years and is the consummate staff (and political) insider who has worked his way up from the road crew to become the Superintendent and then, in recent years, Administrator. As our current Administrator, his job is to administer the local government staff and to keep the Board of Trustees informed about anything and everything of consequence occurring in the Township, so that the Board can make informed decisions (oddly, I seem to find myself ‘not so informed’ by him as a staffer lately for some reason, unless I ask the right questions…).
Regardless of your partisan leanings, I think you will find that I’m the better choice. Have no doubt: I’m the guy who is clearly on the side of the residents and I will represent them faithfully and fully.
Please vote for me this November. Help me maintain some trustworthiness in our local government and ensure that our neighborhoods have a strong voice to advocate for their interests. I’d really appreciate your vote. Thanks.