Four in race for Butler Twp. trustee cite Miller Lane as top priority

Four in race for Butler Twp. trustee cite Miller Lane as top priority

Combined ShapeCaption
Four in race for Butler Twp. trustee cite Miller Lane as top priority

Next month’s race for Butler Twp. trustee is between four men who want to continue its trajectory of growth while making improvements that help keep the area safe.

Vying for the two open positions in the Montgomery County community are incumbent Ken Betz, Don Birdsall, Bryson Jackson and Mike Thein.

Current trustee Mike Lang is not running for re-election.

Betz, the incumbent in the race and a retired director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office and the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory, said being re-elected as trustee is important to him because he wants to continue to tackle financial and criminal justice issues in the township.

“We recently passed a police levy, brought adequate funding to Butler Twp.,” he said. “We now have 20 police officers. Our road department has improved.”

He said his work experience and track record as trustee are two areas voters should take into consideration when casting a ballot.

“When we look at Butler Twp., we’re running a $20 million business,” said Betz. “It takes executive knowledge to run a business. I ran governmental agencies for years. Taxpayers are shareholders and we are a board. We are responsible to shareholders to spend their money wisely.”

ExploreLocal mom gets ordained, signs more than hundred mask exemption forms

Birdsall, a retired chemical engineer, said he’s seeking office because there are a number of issues facing the township “that need some leadership applied to get them taken care of.” He said his prior experiences makes him the best qualified candidate to do so.

“I was on Englewood City Council for 10 years,” he said. “I have a career in business management and I’m on the board of zoning appeals here in Butler Twp. I feel that I have a wealth of background with local government and I have the leadership skills to get things done.”

Jackson, a worship and youth pastor at First Grace Church of Dayton in Butler Twp. and a substitute teacher at Vandalia-Butler schools, said he is seeking the office because he is “extremely concerned” about the water contamination, aggressive annexation and development taking place without the consent of the citizens.

“Overall, the leaders need to take action on these matters before it is too late,” he said. “Rather than complain, I believe I can be a part of the solution to these ongoing battles.”

Thein, longtime owner of Thein Financial Group, said he’s seeking the position because he’s been involved in the community for more than 20 years and in leadership positions hid whole career, working with the community.

“I have a lot of good connections and good communications already built with a lot of the residents and business owners and I’ve also got a lot of leadership skills as well,” Thein said.

Issues of concern

Each of the candidates expressed concern about groundwater contamination issues, annexation efforts by neighboring communities and the state of the Miller Lane area.

“We are in the process of ... rebranding Miller Lane,” Betz said. “Once we rebrand it (next year), it will be Benchwood Station and we currently have a contract out to examine the traffic flow, the pedestrian flow because our whole purpose now is to make Butler a better place, and I think one of the heartbeats is going to be the whole Miller Lane area.”

Betz said Miller Lane provides more than $2 million to Butler Twp. each year via lodgings tax, a JEDD-Z fund and a Harrison TIF fund.

“Those resources ... are used to fund public safety, police department, fire department rescue,” he said. “We now own the responsibility for Miller Lane. If we show our citizens that the hotels in the whole strip are pretty much paying for our public service area, we need to continue to make the Miller Lane area a destination for people to go.”

Birdsall said the Miller Lane area needs to be made an appealing destination for local patrons and interstate travelers.

“We need to light the streets, repave the roads and add police protection so people feel safe when they’re venturing between the hotels and the restaurants and other shopping areas,” he said.

Birdsall said police protection can be modified to address drug traffic he said goes on at the north part of Miller Lane. “Since it’s so localized, it certainly ought to be able to be control.

ExploreDebate continues on Ohio bill that would allow vaccination mandate exemptions

Jackson said Miller Lane is “an untenable mess” with high crime rates, homelessness, drugs, and sex trafficking taking place in the hotels. He said he would work to develop a comprehensive 10-year plan re-organizing Miller Lane.

“Miller Lane will require long-term collaboration with all departments and partnerships with faith-based programs and initiatives,” Jackson said. “I intend to help develop strong partnerships with drug rehab programs, homeless shelters and empower our police to take strong actions against sex crimes.”

Thein said the township is already working on plans specific to improvements with the Miller Lane business district and that he would be “actively involved” in those ongoing improvements.

“Miller Lane’s become, when there’s a big sporting event, that’s where all of the outside people come, so I want to try to capitalize on that and make that a nicer situation and also work with the rec center up there and put some professional (baseball) diamonds in,” Thein said.

Other priorities

Betz said some of his top priorities include community safety, including adding police officers when necessary, maintaining roads via the township’s road department, boosting economic development and ensuring the township has a balanced budget.

Plans for each priority are “already in motion,” he said.

Birdsall among his priorities are several county roads that he said are in “bad shape” need to be repaved.

“A squeaky wheel gets the grease and I think we’ve got to make some noise with the county that our roads are as important as others in the county,” he said.

ExploreMiracle Pet has 50 job openings at Dayton-area location

Jackson said that as trustee he will work to upgrade resident messaging and social media presence to enhance accessibility and participation from township residents.

“I (will) work with a team of social media, video and marketing experts who will immediately help us put new standards of media development in place to upgrade our messaging and increase communication in our neighborhoods,” he siad.

Thein said that as trustee he would prioritize semi-truck traffic throughout the township and improve dialogue between Butler Twp., the city of Vandalia, Vandalia City Schools and the Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce.

He also said he would like to go out into the residential communities and have sit-down question-and-answer sessions. “I think this would help us develop a better plan on how we could effectively communicate moving forward,’ he said.

About the Author