Galion residents hear from candidates in 56th Town Hall Meeting
By Rachel Mendell
The Galion Community Theatre hosted the annual Town Hall Meeting Oct. 3. Candidates for Galion City Council and Galion Board of Education got a chance to introduce themselves and speak about important issues. Patty Rice Groth served as moderator and stated that Galion has been holding a town hall meeting since 1955. Each candidate received three minutes to speak.
Kenneth Bodkins is running unopposed for Galion City Council. He owns two businesses in town, is a Galion High School graduate of the class of 1965, worked at the Sohio Gas Station, ran an auto repair shop (and still does), teaches at Tri Rivers, is a planning and zoning committee member, and owns Victory Lanes.
Bodkins stated that he wants to help make Galion a better place to live and is willing to bring issues to resolution. He thinks council should listen to the voices of the taxpayers and the elderly and retired population.
Paul Flannery is running for council as well, but was unable to attend the meeting.
Michael (Mick) Christini is running as 1st Ward candidate for council. He moved to the area in 1980, joined the volunteer fire department in 1984, became a full-time fire fighter in Crestline in 1985, became a member of the Galion Fire Department in 1990, made lieutenant in 1995 and chief in 2000. He has a son and a daughter attending Galion schools.
Christini notes a lot of negativity in Galion and would like to resolve the issues behind it. He wants his children to be proud to be from Galion. He is deeply involved in budget issues and will be available to the public, publishing his phone number and email address. Christini remembers the city pride of the ‘80s and ‘90s and would like to bring that pride back.
Gail Baldinger is running against Shirley Clark for the 3rd Ward spot on council. Baldinger has been serving as council president this year and considers it a pleasure to serve. He has been married for 37 years and has two children and three grandchildren. He is a 1971 graduate of GHS, worked at Fleetwood Mobile Homes in Crestline and became supervisor there. In 1973 he worked as a fire fighter and did continual training in that field.
Baldinger feels the city has made great progress and sees the light at the end of the tunnel when Galion will be released from fiscal emergency in 2016. He will watch to see that everyone stays on fiscal track.
Shirley Clark is running as a write-in candidate against Gail Baldinger for the 3rd Ward spot on Galion City Council. She has consistently voted against utility rate hikes during her four years on council. With 700 homes and apartments vacant, a large portion of the city unemployed and many on social security with no raises, Clark feels utility rates should not go up. She belongs to the East Park Citizens Group the efforts of which beautify the East Park. She feels Galion needs to continue to bring in new business and support the businesses that are already in town. She feels there is a need for a healthy, growing city. “The city needs to stop spending with money we do not have,” she said. She feels council needs to take a second look at the recent raises.
Dennis Long is running for Galion City School Board of Education. He has been on the board for four years, has watched the school grow and get an Excellent on the state report card. Long said the school has a great staff and great students. Long said both of his daughters have gone through Galion schools and done very well.
Brian Owens is running for a spot on the school board as well. He is a 1983 graduate of GHS, is married with two boys who are attending Galion City Schools. In 1995 he was a member of the U.S. Air Force and was deployed several times to various places. He is involved in youth athletics including high school football. He is presently attending OSU Mansfield working on a BA in business administration.
Owens said he has no agenda except to promote the education of Galion students and create an on-going communication between staff, students, parents and community. “I like to give back what was given to me,” he said. He is grateful for the opportunity to share his life experiences. He believes that the many voices of the community need to be heard and that absolute disclosure is key.
Dennis Rose feels he is qualified for a position on the Galion Board of Education. With 40 years experience in public schools, he knows the business pretty well, he said. Rose has experience as a high school math teacher, a coach, a guidance counselor, an athletic director, a curriculum specialist, and a superintendent. He has a standing interest in the talented and gifted program and feels Pioneer has a great training program that Galion schools could emulate.
Rose said he is concerned with the stories he is hearing about school administration, the practice of giving one-year contracts, the hiring of the director of operations, the drastic drop in school enrollment, the 50 percent reduction in school maintenance staff given the needs of a new $50 million school complex. Rose said he has heard from staff that moral is not as good as it should be at the schools. He promises he will be honest, fair and opening in his dealings with staff, students and the public and he welcomes phone calls.
Questions from the public were fielded by candidates dealing with utility rates, possible levy requests in the future for the school, and elected official accountability.
Other candidates for council, board of education and township positions were not present to speak. The election will be Nov. 8. Residents are encouraged to go out and vote.