Monday, October 29, 2001

Views on Lebanon race vary


Council's past two years scrutinized

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The challengers and most of the incumbents have virtually opposite views of Lebanon City Council's past two years.

        Look what we've done, say Mayor James Mills and members Mark Flick and Jane Davenport: The train tracks were fixed, electric lines have been added and sewers are being replaced. Give us four more years.

        The longest-serving council member, Amy Brewer, also is seeking re-election, but as she has not been aligned with the council majority, her message straddles both camps.

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        “Some good things have happened, absolutely,” she said Friday. “On the other hand, so much more could have been accomplished if some common-sense decisions had been made.”

        But the challengers say council has spent more time on petty politics than addressing residents' needs.

        “I don't think the council is necessarily listening to the people,” said candidate Jim Hause, retired director of Lebanon's electric department.

        The other first-time candidates for City Council are Main Street resident Gary Casimir, school board member Norm Dreyer and history teacher James Norris II.

        Some top issues among the eight candidates competing for four four-year terms:

        • 27 N. Mechanic St. house: Paying $230,000 for a burned-out old building — and thousands of dollars in legal fees — was a waste of taxpayer money, Mrs. Brewer and the challengers say.

        Mr. Flick and Mr. Mills voted to buy the house, believed to be the city's oldest standing building, after the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation agreed to contribute $100,000 toward the purchase. Mrs. Davenport voted in favor of saving the house early on but abstained on later votes.

        • Internal scandals/discord on council: City Manager James Patrick was indicted in July along with three former top city officials. The

        charges stem from early retirement buyouts taken by the three former officials in late 1999 — buyouts for which council members said they unknowingly appropriated several hundred thousand dollars.

        Residents and candidates have said the scandal and other recent controversies reflect poorly on Lebanon.

        “This council has been an embarrassment,” Mr. Casimir said.

        The incumbents disagree.

        “I'm not embarrassed — not one iota — about Lebanon,” Mr. Mills said, citing the large number of visitors who are drawn to the historic city.

        The challengers have shied away from direct comment on Mr. Patrick's future but all have criticized city management more or less obliquely.

        “He manages like he's in the military, and I'm not sure that's a good way to run a city,” Mr. Dreyer said.

        Mrs. Brewer has called for Mr. Patrick's resignation several times, but Mrs. Davenport, Mr. Flick and Mr. Mills have voted to keep him.

        • Main Street reconstruction: The Ohio Department of Transportation project, 30-plus years in the making and due to begin in the spring, has returned to center stage just in time for the election.

        Council takes final votes on the roadwork Nov. 13. ODOT says, however, that the $12 million-plus project could be scrapped any time before contracts are awarded in January.

        Four council votes would do the trick, and it's mathematically possible: Ben Cole, not up for re-election, cast a preliminary vote against the roadwork last week and three candidates — Mr. Flick, Mrs. Davenport and Mr. Casimir — are likely “no” votes.

        The other candidates say the work must be done. The sewer beneath the street has collapsed, noted Mr. Mills, an ODOT retiree.

       



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