TROY — Troy Mayor and Sixth Ward candidates squared off at the Leadership Troy’s Meet the Candidates Night at Troy Junior High School on Wednesday.
City of Troy residents will have two candidates, Robin Oda and Tom Kendall, to choose from in the race for mayor in the Republican Primary on Tuesday, May 7. Mayor Michael L. Beamish will complete his 16th year as Troy Mayor on Dec. 31, 2018.
City of Troy sixth ward residents will have two candidates, Brock Heath and Jeff Schilling, to choose from in the Republican Primary.
The candidates for mayor were asked if they were elected if they intend to keep the current staff members in the positions of Director of Public Service and Safety and the police and fire chief. The mayor has the administrative power to hire and fire those three positions while in office.
Oda said it was her intention was to not fire anyone, but would see what kind of working relationship was formed if elected.
“My intention would be to keep everybody and see what kind of working relationship we will actually have,” she said. “No decision in the city is made by one person. It is a group effort. Nobody should take all the blame and nobody should take all the credit. It is my intention to give everybody a chance to work with the administration.”
Kendall said if he is elected as mayor “there will be some changes in administration.”
“Initially, no I would not come in and fire anybody because one, it wouldn’t be good for the city, two, for myself as mayor to come in and have to run a city when I don’t have that type of expertise to do the day-to-day operations,” he said. “My thoughts on that are first week, I’d sit down with those who reported to me. We’d discuss the goals and objectives were for the city going forward and we would together come up with some goals for them and a time period, to be fair it’d be six months.”
All four candidates shared their opinion about the recent Ohio Online Checkbook program. Earlier this year, city council voted 6-3 against joining the online program, which would publish the city’s spending online. Oda and Kendall voted in favor of the program and Heath voted against the program in March.
“Originally we got the sales pitch from the state of Ohio. It sounded OK. Upon further research we found it was junk in and junk out,” Heath said. Heath said it was a waste of time and resources and he said the information is already accessible to the public if they should ask. Heath also said it was a political ploy and majority of council voted it down.
Schilling said he supported the program and would work to implement it.
“We need all the tools we can get to make sure the government is transparent, open and available,” Schilling said. He added though the program “is not perfect,” it’s a tool and doesn’t cost the city to implement it and trusts citizens to learn how their money is being spent and the program is a way to see how the government spends their tax dollars.
Kendall said he was a supporter of the program and had no issue with it.
“I do believe that people really do want to find out there is a process to go about it. There is still transparency available to the citizens if they so chose,” he said.
Oda said she has proposed the city join the checkbook program since 2014 and just recently was able to present it to council.
“I have been pushing the city to get on board with this since 2014 and it took us to 2019 to even have a presentation on it,” she said. “I am very disappointed that council turned it down. This puts the city’s finances at the fingertips of the residents and we absolutely should move forward with it.”
Candidates also answered a question about accessibility to elected officials in Troy and communication between the city government and the people could be improved. Candidates answered how they would improve communication with residents of Troy if elected.
Oda said she shares city information on her Facebook page to try to inform people on what is going on in Troy but understands not everybody uses online social media for their news.
“I do agree that is an issue and would like to see it improve. The city could definitely improve their communication efforts,” she said. “My question for people in the community is the city has several ways of giving out information, what do you do to keep yourself informed. Do you get the newspaper? You might not think much of the newspaper, but honestly they are probably one of your best sources. It’s going to take the residents getting involved and making use of what the city already has out there, but yes, it does need improved.”
Sixth ward candidate Heath said he communicates with residents by email, voicemail and fields questions and concerns when he is out in public.
“I don’t think I’m any more accessible than any other council member, but boy, I get hit up a lot…yes, absolutely we should look at ways to move forward. We always want to improve and grow as people, as a city, as council, yes, but boy, it does seem pretty accessible. And if not, please come see me, seek us out. Come find us. Do what you can to get to council meetings. Come knock on our doors. Many people already do that so come join the crowd. We are busy and we are talking to people and that’s a good thing,” Heath said.
Sixth ward candidate Schilling said one of his key points on his platform “Ideas for a Better Troy” revolves around his idea to bring Troy residents to help make decisions for the city.
“In my own experience, council members don’t return their emails,” Schilling said. “You send an email, you never hear from them. As a business person as a financial adviser, I made it my goal to return every email and answer every phone call by the end of business at 5 p.m. I want to carry that forward and make that same type of promise to the citizens of Troy. It’s up to us to reach out to the citizens as much as it is the citizens’ responsibility to contact us. I want to find out what you are thinking and I want to work hard to accomplish that.”
Kendall said communication from the city needs to be improved and would like to reinstate the Mayor’s Advisory Council of 15-20 residents for feedback from the community.
“When the city is in the process of going through some new projects, looking at some changes to the way we want to do things, I would use this committee to be a sounding board for that and ask them for their feedback and hopefully they’ll be responding back to the city, too and the citizens. I plan to be more online and getting out in the community and doing that myself,” Kendall said.
Registered voters can request a Republican ballot to participate in the race. For polling locations and early voting hours at the Miami County Board of Elections, visit https://miami.ohioboe.com.