Five seek voter support in contested Centerville City Council elections

Centerville intends to purchase property at 54 W. Franklin St. in the heart of the Uptown, city records show. FILE
Centerville intends to purchase property at 54 W. Franklin St. in the heart of the Uptown, city records show. FILE

Credit: Cosette Gunter

CENTERVILLE — Five candidates are seeking voter support for three Centerville City Council seats in this fall’s general election.

First-time candidates Dan Apolito and Leah E. McCullough share a campaign Facebook page in a race that has incumbents John Palcher, JoAnne Rau and Bill Serr vying for re-election after running unopposed in 2017.

Four years ago was the first time since 2001 that only three candidate’s names were on the ballot for these seats, although three other council members ran unopposed two years ago, elections records show.


Since then, the city’s Uptown plan to revitalize Centerville’s historic town center has been approved and all candidates said it will be a top priority moving forward.

The city is in the process of revising Phase I of the $11.4 million plan, a multi-year project to improve access, parking, business growth, traffic, green space and entertainment in the center of town.

Earlier this year the Uptown plan received a boost as Centerville won state approval for a 113-acre entertainment district. Boundaries for that area — which allows for 15 more liquor permits — basically mirror the city’s historic district.


Those elected will receive an annual compensation of $15,511, city records show.

The following, in alphabetical order, are brief profiles on each candidate:

Dan Apolito
Dan Apolito



•Apolito, 48, is the owner Archer’s Tavern and Stone House Tavern. He is a Centerville native, graduated from Centerville High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Dayton.

Apolito said he has a “a vested interest in the progression of Centerville while maintaining the historical significance and charm of our town,” where his father taught for nearly three decades.

He said the most important issues facing the city are ensuring the Uptown project “remains true to its stated purpose and vision” and “repurposing aging commercial properties in the city.”

Apolito said transparency and accessibility “are crucial” to improve city services.

“As needs change, government officials must be accessible and adaptive,” he said.

Leah E. McCullough. FILE
Leah E. McCullough. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

•McCullough, 54, is an online business and real estate investor. She is an U.S. Army veteran and earned an associate’s degree from Monterey Peninsula College.

Her husband is a CHS grad and she has lived in the city for nine years.

McCullough said key issues for her include helping small businesses succeed, as well as the city’s Uptown plan and progression of the entertainment district.

“They will potentially increase property values and enrich the standard of living of our community, if it follows the original intent,” she said.

With the number of Centerville partnerships with Washington Twp. and Montgomery County, it is vital that council and the city’s administration “work cooperatively with stakeholders,” McCullough said.

John Palcher
John Palcher

•Palcher, 80, is retired and was first elected in 2013 after two previous attempts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pittsburg State University, and has served on the city’s planning and charter review commissions.

Palcher said the city “must focus its resources on improving the traffic flow of the Uptown” area ensure pedestrians’ safety.

“We want the area to be drivable for through traffic, and we want the area to be walkable so families can go Uptown to enjoy a night out at the restaurants, shops and boutiques,” according to Palcher.

He also wants improve “the customer-friendly culture” in city departments and upgrade Centerville’s five-year strategic plan that primarily focuses on “customer service and citizen satisfaction.”

•Rau, 63, is retired from DP&L/AES and a 35-year Centerville resident first elected in 2013. She is deputy mayor, and has served on planning commission and the board of architectural review.

Rau earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University and a master’s in environmental science from the University of Cincinnati.

Her priorities include Uptown, as well as “keeping neighborhoods and business areas attractive, vibrant and desirable.”

Rau said neighborhoods, commercial buildings and infrastructure are “aging and are at risk for falling into disrepair. Centerville will be challenged to maintain the character of its community as businesses struggle to respond to market changes and the impacts of the pandemic.”

•Serr, 69, is retired as CEO and president emeritus of Graceworks Lutheran Services. A Centerville/Washington Twp. resident since 1986, he was first elected to council in 2017 and has served on various boards, including the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Serr earned a bachelor’s and a law school degree from Ohio State.

The city “must focus on economic development to create jobs and enhance quality of life, including advancing the Uptown plan,” Serr said.

Centerville must also improve the “appeal of residential neighborhoods and promote new housing choices to meet changing demographic and market needs,” he added.

Serr said he wants “continue to implement its strategic goal focusing on increasing customer service in delivery of core services.”


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