7 seek Yellow Springs Village Council seat

MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
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MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

Development, housing and greenspace are hot issues among mix of incumbents and newcomers.

YELLOW SPRINGS —Seven Yellow Springs residents are seeking election to three Village Council seats.

Those elected will join the five-seat council, which sets the budget for the Greene County village, passes legislation, and other executive responsibilities.

In Yellow Springs, the candidates that receive the two highest vote tallies get four-year terms. The third-place candidate gets a two-year term.

Mayor Pam Conine is running unopposed.

Candidates for Yellow Springs Village Council and mayor will also answer questions at the annual James A. McKee Association candidates night 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20 at the Mills Lawn Elementary School. Physical distancing will be practiced in the building and masks are required.

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Council president Brian Housh works as Midwest Policy Manager with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and is seeking another term after eight years with the council.

He said the skills he has developed as a public assistance lawyer, small business owner and leadership communications consultant help him to be a more effective local elected official.

Housh said that economic development, improved village efficiency, environmental sustainability and affordability are among his top concerns. He said it is important that elected officials keep their eye on the ball with pandemic recovery.

“My top priority is to make the Village more affordable, delivering on our commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community, and proactively confronting gentrification,” Housh said.

He said the village needs to expand its housing stock with a spectrum of options.

“We don’t want to become huge, but we have space, we have capacity, and we want those families with kids coming from out of town to have opportunities to live here, as well as people that work here that currently can’t afford it,” Housh said.

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Credit: A Jonny No

Kevin Stokes, who works at Antioch College, is asking to be re-elected to the council after having his first four-year term.

He said the village is at a juncture where it needs more housing, and he considers supporting more housing stock to be critical for their future.

“We know that the price of housing here in Yellow Springs is almost directly related to the lack of supply,” Stokes said.

He said there’s a way to go about building housing intentionally, so new developments address village concerns, such as building new housing in an environmentally sensitive way.

With dealing with differences of opinions when on council, Stokes said his philosophy is that everyone has the right to be heard.

“The flip side of that is that everyone does not have the right to be right. There are absolute truths and the definition of compromise is that no one is completely satisfied,” Stokes said.

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Incumbent Laura Curliss, an attorney, is finishing her first term on council and seeking a second.

Curliss said she wants there to be tolerance of different opinions at the local government level. She said she wants to see more committees with chairs for different issues, which would spread out accountability and responsibility among the council so that power is not too concentrated.

“I think for a long time we’ve been missing those checks and balances in Yellow Springs, and there’s a real tendency that conformity, and also recently, I think there’s a real authoritarian tendency in government in Yellow Springs,” Curliss said.

Curliss said it is also important to her to preserve the greenspace at the Mills Lawn Elementary School.

Some of her additional community involvement and experience includes Planning Commission, YS Speaking Up for Justice, Greene County Coalition for Compassionate Justice, and Porchfest.

Lindsay Burke could not be reached for comment by the Dayton Daily News. Burke, a business owner and artist, has long been community involved in the village.

She told the League of Women Voters that affordable housing and infrastructure were the most crucial issues facing the community.

“We need realistically priced housing that accommodates young people and families; we need to focus our energies on infill development; we need to address the state of existing rentals, build updated multi-family dwellings, and create more opportunity for low income villagers,” she said.

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Carmen Lee (Brown)

Carmen Lee (Brown)
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Carmen Lee (Brown)

Carmen Lee, who on the ballot will be listed as her legal name Carmen Brown, said her family has long lived in Yellow Springs -- her great-great aunt helped draft the charter.

She now works as a caregiver and said her background with working class jobs would mean she could bring that important representation to the village council.

Lee said it is important that the council can understand and represent the range of people in the village that they are elected to serve.

“Ideally, we would have all types of people represented. We would have -- like me -- a single mom who is a person of color, who lives under the federal poverty level,” Lee said.

Lee, whose community involvement includes with the local group HUMAN, said if on council she would be interested in improving civility among leadership.

“I’m interested in reinvigorating that sense of civility with village government and with citizens in the past,” Lee said.

Lee said affordability is important to her and she is worried that the school levy will cause problems with affordability.

“We have to consider all of our community members,” Lee said. “If you live on a fixed income, a few hundred dollars is a lot of money.”

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Scott Osterholm, who has community experience through the HRC and 2019 village manager search committee, now serves on the board of zoning appeals. This experience is what prompted his interest in running to join the village council.

Osterholm said hiring the new police chief is the biggest issue facing the village. He said he wants the village to hire someone who will be in town longer than a few years and have a relationship with the community.

“For me personally, the chief needs to live here or at least in the township, so when something happens they can be here immediately,” Osterholm said.

He said another important issue is housing. He said along with the work that Home Inc. is doing in the community to help, he wants to get a discussion going about Section 8 housing.

“It seems to be a stigma with some landlords around here, when it comes to that. I think that’s something we can use to get people into existing buildings,” he said.

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Issa Walker

Issa Walker
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Issa Walker

Issa Walker said he is a lifelong Yellow Springs resident and artist with an undergrad degree from Central State and master’s degree in public health from Wright State University.

Some of his priorities include better housing for younger families and improving the condition of housing that is already existing in the village. He also said broadband is a priority.

He said apartment complexes for lower income people would be a better option than the Oberer development, which he said would gentrify the community.

Affordable housing would enhance cultural diversity in the community, which I’ve seen dwindling over the years, Walker said.

He said he has a long history of community involvement, including with a group called Young People of Color focused on community representation.

“My main objective is cultural diversity and representation, as I’ve seen it dwindling over the years,” Walker said.

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