CIRCLEVILLE — Circleville voters will have three candidates to choose from for Circleville’s next mayor.
Don McIlory, the incumbent, is running against challengers Bradley Prickett and Chuck Taylor.
McIlroy, 73, has a bachelor’s degree in education and was in the army achieving the rank of Staff Sargent. He’s been mayor since 2012. Prickett, 39, has his undergraduate degree in management from Franklin University. Taylor, 84, is retired and previously was elected to one term as mayor. He attended Wright State University, Ohio University and The Ohio State University.
All three candidates responded to the Circleville Herald’s candidate questionnaire and below are their full responses edited only to fix spelling and grammar errors and for style. The responses are unedited for content.
Incumbent Don McIlroy
Describe what is motivating you to seek office? I have always had a desire to get involved with the community in which I live. When the voters of Circleville elected me to be their mayor in 2011, my campaign centered on economic development and small business growth, and while the city administration and Circleville City Council have made considerable progress in both of these areas, we understand that there are still great opportunities to continue the momentum with projects that are now in place, and those that are on the horizon.
What makes you feel you’re the best candidate for the position? I have made several business contacts in the last seven years as your mayor, which have created plans for future development regarding additional retail, single family housing and commercial opportunities. Because of these contacts we are in a much stronger position to realize growth with the understanding that our financial goals will be met soon.
I have had the opportunity to work with both our State of Ohio and United States Representative and Senators. These relationships have created awareness and resulted in economic development not only the City of Circleville, but for Pickaway County in general.
I have had the good fortune to perform duties by representing the City of Circleville on several local boards and I have been appointed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to serve on a state board; Board of Building Standards.
I have developed the skills needed to maintain the highest standards of professional excellence and I maintain high professional ethics demonstrated by ethical practices.
Articulate your thoughts on the three issues you deem most important?
1. The continuation of drug enforcement in our community. Build a strong working rapport within our community by bringing together our Police Department (School Resource Officers and Foundation for Youth) programs, Pickaway County Sheriff Department (DARE) programs, Drug Free Clubs of America (local high schools), Pickaway Addiction Action Coalition and Community Action programs with the understanding that to accomplish the goal of a drug free community we all must play an active part and share ideas and techniques.
2. Improving roads and infrastructure. 2019 will be the third year we realize the full potential of the levy passed by the citizens of Circleville for improvement to our roads. It is the goal of this administration to touch all city roads within 12 years. This administration is working closely with Pickaway Progress Partners (P3), Ohio Department of Transportation, Pickaway County and Pickaway County townships to improve the main cloverleaf into the City of Circleville. There are several intersections within the City of Circleville that we are analyzing and developing with the use of roundabouts and alternative traffic signaling.
3. Economic Development. Circleville, not unlike many communities our size in Ohio, need to be proactive in encouraging new business to locate here and all around Pickaway County. We as elected officials need to concentrate on three components to be successful:
Ensuring that our current businesses in Circleville have all the tools necessary for continued success, new business development and expansion and an educated work force.
We are fortunate in Circleville to have many small businesses who have chosen to do business here, with many located in our downtown area. We must review all opportunities to continue to support and enhance their businesses. Circleville has already begun this transition by having organizations dedicated to improving our downtown area: Downtown Business Association, Pickaway County Chamber of Commerce, the Pickaway County Visitor Bureau and the newly formed “Uptown Circleville” group, all of these organizations will better prepare Circleville for future growth and development.
The elected officials in Circleville must work in conjunction with other leaders in Pickaway County to enable success by presenting a county that is ready to encourage commercial and retail business. This united front will require professional communication with city officials, Circleville City Council, Pickaway County Commissioners, township trustees, and Pickaway County villages. 1 have worked closely with the Director of the Pickaway County Chamber of Commerce, the Executive Director of the Pickaway County Visitors Bureau and the Director of Pickaway Progress Partners (P3), and believe we have the best individuals in place to make sure Circleville and Pickaway County are places where increased business development will be successful.
In addition, we should understand that we must have a work force that is available to new business development; we have all the components necessary for this achievement. Circleville and Pickaway County are blessed to have four great school districts preparing our young people for success; as well as Ohio Christian University located in our community, who has developed numerous adult programs to ensure that we as a community are prepared to present a work force that is appealing to new business developers. As your mayor, I would work closely with our citizens and our educators to ensure that everyone is aware of the many opportunities that are available to them and the impact it will have on themselves, their families and their community.
Given the city’s current financial difficulties, what action(s) do need to take place in order to improve the situation?
This administration must continue to be responsible for yearly expenses. All seven years I have been mayor, I am proud to say all department heads and supervisors have recognized their department financial implications and have come in under budget each year. With that said, we must continue to work on improving a clear understanding of a well thought out financial plan by utilizing innovative planning and insight. We have in our community two large industrial building not being used: RCA and GE plants. As mayor, I’m working closely with P3 and Columbus 20/20 regarding the RCA plant and hope to have an announcement soon. I continue to work with RCA Directors, local, state and US government leaders to have a facility that is available for development.
The city’s general fund will be improved in 2019 and 2020 by positive negotiations with the Ohio Rail Commission and Norfolk Southern Railway, an additional $240,000 dollars will be made available to the city. The recently passed state gas tax will also have a positive effect of the general fund.
There will be a safety levy on the November 2019 ballot supporting both the Circleville Police and Fire Departments. The successful passage of this levy will ensure that both departments will be adequately funded to provide the service that the citizens of Circleville expect from their tax dollars. I highly encourage the passage of this levy.
Do you have any additional comments or message to relay to the public? It has been an honor serving the citizens of Circleville as your mayor. Serving and providing service is exactly what I do. I am blessed to have a great staff and wonderful employees who understand what service to the public means. The Circleville Police and Circleville Fire Departments, Cable TV Office, Human Resources, Transportation Garage, Public Utilities Office, Sewer and Water Departments along with Water Distribution all have one goal; to give the great service to our great community.
Challenger Bradley Prickett
What makes you feel like you’re the best candidate for the position? As a working, disabled veteran, husband, father, fellow union brother, I think our city needs help. Help from a citizen that sees Circleville as a community that needs direction towards community. A citizen that sees first responders getting overworked and underpaid.
Articulate your thoughts on three issues you deem most important and why? First responders is what needs fixed now. The current administration, and one before, neglected our first responders for far too long.
Additional comments: Circleville needs a mayor that is hands on, up front and unafraid to stand up for fellow citizens.
Challenger Chuck Taylor
Describe what is motivating you to seek office? While I believe Circleville is still a wonderful place to live and raise a family, I also believe we are at a crossroad to properly address and manage our financial condition, reduce crime and drug use within our city and to improve our city services. To accomplish these goals, I believe every citizen and business owner must become involved and be a part of the problem solving process.
What makes you feel like you’re the best candidate for the position? My proven leadership in city, county and state government. While I have received special recognition award from Governor of Ohio, letters of appreciation for assistance from the Ohio House of Representatives and other city and state officials, I believe my contributions in meeting with economic developers at the state level, thorough knowledge of utility systems and responding to natural disasters, I believe my overall experience as a business owner and high level government official makes me the ideal candidate to serve the citizens of Circleville.
Articulate your thoughts on three issues you deem most important and why? First and foremost our city’s financial condition must be improved. Years of wasteful spending and apparent unclear financial planning has once again placed the citizens in a position to be asked to pay more taxes. I don’t believe government should continue to ask its citizens to pay more taxes, it is government’s responsibility to develop both short-term and long-term financial plans, review all expenditures and work within it’s budget to ensure tax increases are not continually requested. The citizens of Circleville passed a tax increase as recently as 2015 which was a 0.5 percent increase of which 0.1 percent was for police and fire with the remaining 0.4 percent for city streets. I believe with proper financial management another tax increase should not be required at this time.
Ensure the city’s safety forces are adequately staffed to serve and protect the citizens of the city. In addition, the safety forces need equipment that includes new technology and are trained in the latest first responders techniques. One important goal is to develop a plan to ensure citizens south of the railroad tracks are protected when trains travel through the city.
Work with citizens to develop a plan to have recreational activities for all age groups. One of the complaints I hear the most from our citizens is that kids don’t have anything to do as we no longer have a swimming pool, skating rinks, bowling allies, etc. As I travel throughout Ohio, I am surprised to find the city’s and village’s much smaller than Circleville are able to operate, maintain and fund swimming pools for their citizens. While the Ted Lewis Park Masterplan has some good ideas, I believe this park should be configured for smaller children and young adults as they can safely ride their bikes or walk to this park versus traveling to parks at the edge of our city limits.
Do you have any additional comments or message to relay to the public? I believe all citizens of Circleville should have a voice on the operations and management of the city. I want to encourage every citizen to inform local leaders what changes they want to see within the city and hold those officials accountable. As an example, many citizens voiced their opinions to keep swimming a priority when reviewing plans for Ted Lewis Park, however one of the first projects completed by the administration was to remove all swimming pools and equipment from the park.
Last, I believe elected officials must set examples for its citizens and as the city is in poor financial condition, I will propose all elected officials reduce their annual salary by the same percentage rate across the board. I hope this salary reduction can be for all elected officials as this reduction in salaries can be used by our safety forces.