As the city of Beavercreek looks toward its 40th anniversary next year while continuing to recover from the Memorial Day tornado, voters in November will be able to vote directly for the first time who will serve in the mayor’s office.
Mayor Bob Stone is being challenged by Councilwoman Julie Vann in the race.
The candidates’ political careers of serving in local government have overlapped. Both are in their fourth terms as council members. Stone served from 1998 to 2006 before serving as a township trustee then winning election for his current term in 2017. Prior to winning a seat in 2015, Vann served two terms from 1996 to 2003 and a third term from 2008 to 2011.
Voters passed a charter amendment in November 2016 to separate the races for mayor and city council. Previously, the highest vote-getter became mayor. Stone earned the position as the highest-vote getter in the 2017 election. Vann has been the city’s mayor twice, from 1999 to 2001 and from 2007 to 2008.
VOTERS GUIDE: What’s on your ballot this fall?
Themes in this year’s election for city offices in Beavercreek revolve around the continued recovery from the Memorial Day tornado and the strain it put on the city’s coffers. Discussions are underway about exploring ways of funding the local government other than relying on property taxes, including asking voters in the future to approve an earnings tax.
A Vietnam War veteran, Stone attended Wright State University and became a home inspector for Montgomery County after returning from the war. A Beavercreek High School graduate, Stone started a business in 1979 that continues today, Home Buyer Consultants Inc.
Stone said the mayor needs to “be out front and the face of the community.” He said he doesn’t have an agenda, other than to “listen to the people and see what they want and try to work with staff to make that happen.”
Stone said the No. 1 priority for him is continued recovery from the tornado.
“There are still some (properties) out there looking the same they did a day after the tornado,” Stone said. “We need to determine how to help and encourage those individuals to move forward any way they can.”
With the streets and general funds drained following the tornado, city leaders are looking at other funding models that would incorporate an earnings tax. Stone said in his response to the Dayton Daily News Voter’s Guide questions that “there is no magic formula,” as property taxes proved more stable for Beavercreek during the 2008 recession than other cities with earnings taxes faired.
“Funding is always a big issue in this community. It’s on the ballot about every 10 years. I expect there will be another plan put forth in the near future,” he said.
Building infrastructure is a key priority in Beavercreek, according to Stone.
“With current funding sources we deal with these issues in small bites,” Stone said in his Voter’s Guide response. “Wherever roadway improvements are underway, we add the necessary drainage, curbs and sidewalks but we are unable to address these issues on a large scale without additional funding. We will continue to make upgrades wherever possible on a project to project basis.”
With a long history in the nonprofit sector, Vann is a retired community development administrator and grant writer. continues to serve in leadership roles in civic groups, including as a board member of Greene Giving, and the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Greene, Clark and Madison Counties.
Vann said she sees a need for a leadership change in the mayor’s office. Vann has opted to not run for re-election on council, which means up to five new council members could on the board next year.
Vann said she is lexcited about the prospect of having “new energy and ideas” on council. With the new dynamics on council, Vann said she sees an opportunity to “make a bigger difference as mayor” than as a council member.
“The city manager and the mayor set the agendas. There are tough decisions ahead,” Vann said. “During the past few years, the city council has had only a few written priorities. As mayor, I would ask council to update and rewrite goals and priorities for the city.”
Vann said she will push for a strategic plan to “catch up” on capital projects amounting to $200 million that were shelved because of expenditures in the wake of the tornado.
“In recent years, Beavercreek has been reacting to community needs rather than planning a systematic stratgey for success,” Vann said. “I would strongly lobby for benchmarking or performance standards in the city budget document, so there is a shared understanding of the level of service to be provided by the funds allocated.”
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