Friday, November 10, 2000

Question of successor remains

Raga's election to Ohio House leaves opening on Deerfield Twp. board

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TWP. — There is no question Trustee Tom Raga will have big shoes to fill when he succeeds state Rep. George Terwilleger, R-Hamilton Township, in the Ohio House next year.

        But there is a question about who will fill Mr. Raga's loafers when he steps down from the Deerfield Township board of trustees.

        It's unclear who the likely replacement for the second- year trustee will be when he leaves for Columbus in January. Trustees Larry Backus and Bill Morand were hesitant to name any potential front-runners for the job.

        “We are actually trying to see if Tom has a little brother,” joked Mr. Backus. “Seriously, I think we will have a lot of people step forward and show an interest in the position.

        “We want to encourage as many people as possible to come out for the job and we certainly don't want to exclude anyone,” he said. “But so far, no one has aggressively pursued it.”

        Mr. Raga's decisive victory over Democrat Richard Inskeep in Tuesday's 2nd District Ohio House race, 47,409 votes to 15,500 votes according to unofficial results, awards him the opportunity to replace longtime Warren County legislator Mr. Terwilleger. Mr. Terwilleger has championed many bills affecting townships in Ohio, including annexation reform and a bill that protects townships from being dissolved by county commissioners when they shrink below 22 square miles.

        Mr. Raga said he hopes to bring the same enthusiasm and legislative grit to the job as Mr. Terwilleger. He also expressed some sadness in moving on.

        “There is always going to be a closeness between me and the people who first elected me,” Mr. Raga said. “But I feel like we've got the ball rolling with zoning and park land in the township and things are in a good enough position where somebody can come and pick things up without too many problems.”

        Longtime resident Barbara Reed has been mentioned as a possible candidate. However, Mrs. Reed has wavered on the possibility of becoming a trustee.

        Lee Speidel, a 33-year resident and president of the township's zoning commission, could also be a viable choice, among others.

        “The board will probably be looking for people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make positive things happen,” Mr. Backus said.

        The last time someone was appointed to the board of trustees was in January 1997, when Mr. Backus, editor of the township's newsletter Deerfield Digest, was selected to finish out the unexpired term of former trustee Jim Spaeth.

        He won the seat 10 months later in the general election.

        Trustees said they expect to appoint a replacement for Mr. Raga within in the next month.


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