Five seeking Bethel Twp. seats

BETHEL TOWNSHIP — Five candidates are seeking two open Bethel Township trustee seats. The seats will be full, four-year terms commencing Jan. 1, 2022.

The following is information submitted by each candidate:

• Carolyn Walsh Wright

Family information: Married to my husband, Todd, for 29 years. We are high school sweethearts who attended Bethel High School’s Senior Prom together in 1990. We have two children, Benton Wright (Bethel Class of 2016) and Eiliana Wright (Bethel Class of 2018). I live across the street from my mom and am her primary caregiver.

Occupation: My full time job is as the Assistant Director of Treatment and Support at the Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties. I am a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW-S) with experience working with veterans, law enforcement, schools and hospitals. My part time job is serving as a Bethel Township Trustee (2018 to present), serving the community I grew up in. I also served as Assistant Coach for Bethel High School Varsity Swim team from 2012-2018.

Previous political experience: Elected to this position in 2018 and completing my first term.

Qualifications: I have learned much in my first term and bring my experience as a life long township resident, mother, daughter, social worker and tax payer to this office. I have initiated mental health initiatives to support our fire/EMS crews, improved communication strategies via increased use of social media, public forums and online access to information. I have advocated tirelessly for our residents and our community.

Reason for seeking office: I believe that experience and knowledge of the complex issues facing our township is more important than ever. I am committed to doing everything I can to stop annexation and protect our community from further encroachment from Huber Heights.

Goals for office if elected: Stop further annexation and manage land use to preserve the rural quality of our township.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: The ongoing threat of annexation from Huber Heights.

• Beth Ewald van Haaren

Family Information: I am married to Michael van Haaren, and we have three grown children, Caleb, Marieke and Alexander.

Occupation: I am a mechanical engineer. I worked 20 years in manufacturing and now do contract industrial design.

Previous Political Experience: I have been a Bethel Township Trustee since 2005.

Qualifications: I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done — meeting to discuss a burial plot in 12 inches of snow and bitter cold, to finding a solution for a drainage issue to researching the Ohio Revised Code and lobbying our state lawmakers and Ohio Township Association to level the annexation playing field.

Reason for seeking office: I love my community, and I want to do my part to ensure that it continues to be a vibrant, caring and green place for our children and grandchildren.

Goals for office if elected: Continue to find ways to block annexation, implement local conservation and agricultural easements, smart financial decisions so can optimize services without increasing taxes, several drainage projects and extension of sewer lines along Singer Road to connect on State Route 201.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: The greatest need is to get community input and consensus on how to manage the inevitable changes in our township. It’s hard for folks to find time in their busy schedules to come to meetings, some people don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas in a public forum, other people think their voice won’t be heard, etc.

• Lorna Furderer

Family information: Married to Jack for 36 years, mother of two, grandma of two.

Occupation: Administrative Assistant for Development Services for city of Fairborn, Real Estate Professional with HER, Realtors in Troy.

Previous political experience: None.

Qualifications: I have been on the township zoning board for 10/11 years, and chaired the last four. I currently work in Development Services for the city of Fairborn and specifically work in Building Inspection and Planning and Zoning. I have the contacts for much of the construction industry that I deal with on a daily basis, as well as developers, both commercial and residential, and have a hand in Economic Development as well. I also am a real estate professional with HER, Realtors, out of Troy, and have been an agent since 2004. Both of these careers give me knowledge, understanding, and relationships with many entities and people that can aid our township in many ways. I think that this also gives me, along with the zoning experience of our township zoning board, a leg up on my competitors.

Reason for seeking office: The zoning board was what drove me to run for trustee — everything we hear on the board is recommended and then handed to the trustees to decide and vote on. That is sometimes good, sometimes not — I feel the trustees are not intimately familiar with our zoning code and the reasons for our decisions. There is also not enough interaction between trustees and the boards, nor is there interaction between the trustees and the school board, as well as with other entities in the county (commissioners, planning board, Economic Development, etc.) The zoning board has numerous times requested through a zoning amendment the change to enlarge the minimum lot size to build to at least three acres for an R1AAA residential zoning, yet we are continuously shot down by the trustees.

Goals for office if elected: 1. Growth: Our growth needs to be controlled by utilizing our zoning code more, our connections with economic development and to bring commercial in (but again, controlled) to add to our tax base while keeping any housing that may happen on the small scale so to lessen the impact on our school system.

2. Preventing annexation: There should have been leg work and outreach to developers that are not residential, but commercial, and focus on not only making 201 our business corridor, but focus on all borders with Huber and protecting them by attracting commercial investments and development. We have worked hard at modeling our zoning code after Washington Township’s. We have transitional zoning for exactly that — the bordering areas, so we can be proactive at density, use, and still be neighborly all while preserving what we all moved here for: rural, country, and community.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek:

Right now, reconnecting with the township residents is the greatest need. I look at the definition of trustee, “one to whom something is entrusted”….. to me this means that our trustees are to care, look after, enhance and protect our township to the very best of their abilities. The trustees are working for our residents. I do believe the current trustees are doing what they feel is the best they can do, but there are always other ways to get things done. I believe that everyone has good and great ideas and they need to be shared, listened to, considered and put into action. And that often does not mean just the trustees’ ideas. Again, the residents have so much to offer. The trustees need to utilize that, think outside the box, do things differently.

• Kama L Dick

Family information: Married 43 years to David Dick, We have three grown children and 10 grandchildren.

Occupation: Owner of Kandi Enterprise LTD, LLC. I have 27 years in business. We specialize in the sales and management of residential and commercial foreclosure and investment property.

Previous political experience: Elected to a four-year term on the Bethel Local School Board.

Qualifications: I have successfully ran my own company for over 27 years.

Reasons for seeking office: Our trustees don’t see things the way the community does.

Goals for office if elected: Transparency, and increase communication. Investigate why the 3.8-mill levy hasn’t worked to stop annexation.

What do you see as the greatest need that needs to be addressed in the position you seek? The residents need to have their voices matter.

They need to know that their trustees value the Bethel way of life as much as the people who choose to make Bethel Township their home do.

The two very recent referendums that I participated in are clear indications the trustees are very much out of touch with the residents here in this township. 74% voted to over turn the trustees decision.

15 years is long enough to know who you represent!

It’s time for a change.

• Julie Reese

Family information: My parents settled in the area in 1964. We moved out of the big city of New Carlisle and into Bethel Township in 1972. My brother and I attended Bethel Local Schools. I am married to Bruce Durst who has lived in Bethel Township his entire life. We love this area due to its rural nature, caring people, open spaces, and small-school feel.

Occupation: I graduated from Bethel High School in 1978. I attended the University of Cincinnati where I earned a degree in Information Systems from the College of Business Administration. So I am a techie but also have a great business background.

I then spent 30-plus years at the IBM Corporation where I gained a wealth of experience as a software engineer, team leader, project manager, conference/trade show organizer, and educator. I even spent some time in product marketing.

Since retiring from the corporate world, I am enjoying farming and raising cattle with my husband.

Previous political experience: I am definitely not a politician, but I am currently the Vice President of Bethel Local School’s Board of Education. I also raise money for charity as the current President of the Tipp City Eagles Auxiliary, and I volunteer at the polls on election days.

Qualifications: I have a broad business background and extensive experience as a project manager including communicating, planning, budgeting, scheduling, organizing, negotiating, problem solving, and prioritizing – all skills needed to be a versatile and effective Trustee.

I was a member of the Township’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), so I am very familiar with our zoning codes and how to enforce them. And, I am currently a member of the Township’s Zoning Commission (ZC) where we consider requests to re-zone properties.

I possess the skills, knowledge, and diverse background needed to be able to handle any situation that may arise as a Trustee. I will take the time to research the issues, seek community input, and consider all viewpoints and all pros and cons before making a decision or passing a resolution.

Reason for seeking office: I see the Bethel way of life slipping away at an alarming rate under the current leadership. I love our rural lifestyle — having some green space, raising cattle, seeing crops planted and hay fields thriving, and having a superb school system are important to me.

Annexation and high-density housing development are our biggest threats. Not only is the rapid growth overwhelming our school and roads, but it is changing our culture from “country” to “city” and eroding our small-school feel.

I am seeking to have a seat at the table to work pro-actively to slow our growth and preserve our rural way of life.

Goals for office if elected:

Preservation of our township land and our rural lifestyle: I will pro-actively work with land owners and seek developers to create options so our home owners have choices other than selling to Huber. Alternatives to slow growth could include a retail area, a nice business park, senior living, a tiny town, a pedestrian shopping area, a medical neighborhood – these and many other options could provide tax revenue while minimizing the impact to the school, the traffic, and our rural way of life. I will also look at options to crowd-source funding to outright buy land that is in the annexation line of fire.

I will only endorse a Land Use Plan that preserves farmland and open spaces. I will work to align the zoning code with the Land Use Plan. I will also increase the minimum lot size and road frontage requirements for new construction. We need controlled growth, not a free-for-all.

I will pursue options to incentivize land owners to keep their farmland or sell to next-generation farmers. This could be done via tax abatement or tax breaks to level the playing field against selling to developers.

Open communications and better relationships: I will invite and value community input and engage in open discussion in a respectful and professional manner.

We need a true partnership among all stakeholders. I will work more closely with Bethel Local Schools, our land owners, land developers, and other local leaders to be sure we are all on the same page or understand our differences in goals.

I will form a “Land and Lifestyle Preservation” committee made up of community members to advise the Trustees of the best ways to save our land and rural lifestyle.

What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: Our township recently received a group of petitions to have more of our precious land annexed to Huber Heights. This annexation will produce high-density housing, many more vehicles on our roads, and many more students headed to our schools. It is highly doubtful that we can stop this annexation request. Therefore, the greatest need is to begin to pro-actively pursue new ideas (some are listed above) to stop any future annexation and to slow down the growth.

In addition, it goes without saying, I will always strive to spend our funds as wisely as possible and to keep taxes as low as possible. I feel Bethel Township is a very special place to live because of what it offers — rural but all the conveniences nearby, open spaces, crops, and hay fields — not wall-to-wall houses; a little land to call our own without being right on top of our neighbors; more freedom and less rules — no HOAs for us; excellent schools; people who care about each other, their community, and their country. I would be honored to serve our community as a Bethel Township Trustee and would do so with passion, sincerity, integrity, and conviction. I am not afraid to fight for what is best for our township, our school, our community, and our rural way of life!