All posts tagged election

Running for a public office in Grandview Heights

Published October 12, 2016 by justicewg

Some Grandview residents have interactions with local public officials, and wonder just how a person ends up an elected council member or board seat holder. A much smaller number actively try to run for office. How does that work in Grandview Heights?

Brandon Lynaugh decided he needed to try for the city council during the fall 2015 election. He didn’t win, but got a valuable lesson is what is needed to run for a public office. I asked him questions about that run.

Making the decision to run

J.W.: How did you come up with the idea of running?

Brandon Lynaugh : There were a lot of factors that led me to run for GH city council.  First and foremost it was a desire to serve a community that my family and I have a deep appreciation for.  Like a lot of folks in Grandview, we originally came because of the school system.  Over the last decade we’ve come to appreciate the community even more and I wanted to do my part to give back to it.

While the desire to serve should be at the core of anyone’s decision to run for local office, I was also driven by an interest to give the community a choice in who represents them.  I’ve lived here a decade and never once had a candidate for local office knocked on my door.  It’s no real surprise as the previous two elections for council were entirely uncontested.  No need to campaign when you don’t have any competition I guess?  That bothered me.

And finally, I thought I had a background and approach that would be an asset to council.  It wasn’t to stroke an ego or to set up some future race for higher office as sometimes is the case with local campaigns.  I recognized that if elected, I was there to represent the interests of the entire community as best I could and I was excited by that challenge.

J.W. Did people contact you to encourage you to run?

B.L.: I probably have talked about it with friends and neighbors for a couple years, but nothing too serious.  It wasn’t until I worked on the last school levy campaign did I start to think I might make a go of it.  But the final decision came after a porch visit by a longtime friend/neighbor.  I’ve told a lot of people that it was a combination of civic pride and a little red wine.

J.W.: Was the paperwork easy? How did the petition to be placed on the ballot go?

B.L.: The process can be a bit tedious.  Depending on whether you intend to raise/spend campaign funds the first thing you need to do is file a designation of treasurer with the Franklin County Board of Elections.  You’ll then need to collect fifty valid signatures from registered voters in Grandview Heights.  I think I collected about one hundred to be safe.  Every year there are stories of candidates that fail to make the ballot because of errors with their petitions.  The Board of Elections does a good job of instructing candidates on the do’s and don’ts, but it was still nerve-racking to turn them in.

Other than getting certified for the ballot, the big paperwork requirements are campaign finance reports and an ethics/financial disclosure form that all candidates and elected officials have to fill out.  The disclosure form is designed to prevent conflicts of interest.  The campaign finance requirements include pre-election and post-election filings of every dollar raised and spent.  Sounds like a hassle, but once you get the hang of it it is fine.

Finding the Guru

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Signs of the times

Published March 11, 2016 by justicewg

No Urlin sleddingThis “No Sled Riding” sign in front of the Summit Chase condos has been successful in keeping the snow away from the hill this winter. Seems to have worked too well, it kept all the snow away from the city all winter. I can’t recall another when it was not possible to sled.

work at home scam

A work from home scam sign on Goodale Ave. near Urlin. I can’t believe there are people who still fall for this. Also can’t believe that this location is where people who want a work at home job are living, if you can afford to live in this neighborhood, you will not be getting a job from signs on the side of the road.

Orange Barrel NWbvOrange barrels have turned the section of NW Boulevard from First to Goodale into a eye-blasting orange overdose. Sorry about loosing all those parking spots, and the trees that need to be removed for the street construction are on the way to the toothpick factory. Progress! Get out of the way, or you will find an orange barrel placed over your head.

levy sign city hall

I noted in a previous story that there were no yard signs for the Issue 3 renewal on Grandview Ave. near the city hall. I found one, and (record needle scratch) what the heck is that behind it?


central committee

Not going to get a free mention of your name from me, Ms. Duvghjvd

Grandview has been infected by a case of gigantic sign syndrome! Symptoms are an inflated sense of self importance, and signs in your front lawn that exceed the rules for size set by city ordinance. Expect a 15 foot tall police officer to be arriving soon with a door sized ticket to present to this Gulliver.

(Later) Ms. Duvghjvd did not get elected, maybe she should have used a 100 foot tall sign?

Almost stealth campaign for city levy renewal

Published March 3, 2016 by justicewg
Grandview ave no levy signs

Photo fun, count the number of levy support yard signs on this strip of Grandview Ave. right across from the city hall*.

You would not be alone in being surprised by the city tax issue on the March 15th ballot. The city has gone low key, almost stealth, in the hopes of another easy passage of property-tax.

Issue 3 is a renewal of the city’s four-year, 7.5-mill property-tax levy. The city says it is needed for general funds, as well as for some street improvements. I don’t think this tax money has anything to do with the city streets and utilities going into the Grandview Yard development, those were supposed to be paid with the TIF money that targets taxes from that development directly into the project’s public costs.

There may be some additional costs coming out of the Yard that needs regular city funds – additional police and firemen who will now be in charge of serving this part of the city. I have not heard any numbers from the city on how the development has increased personnel, but it is a sure thing.

There are a few yard signs posted around the city to promote the levy. I think you can spot the city council members homes by the occurrence of a sign on a front yard.

Will the Gladman income tax relief cause problems with this levy?

One of the issues that caused conflict on the council last year was the attempt by Mr Gladman to give 100% tax relief to all residents who work outside the city. While the income tax paid by Columbus workers is similar to Grandview’s, it leaves most workers with an additional tax payment to RITA, his plan cut this tax, while taking $250K away from the city. Some council members thought it was a poorly timed issue, this levy renewal was in the planning  stage and it didn’t make the city look consistent by asking for a renewal at the same time it was looking to cut taxes.

If you are thinking about voting against this levy, you have a good reason to hit the no button, provided by a council member.

Does the school board support the city?

The standard way the school board and the city council work is to support each other when they ask for a levy. Apparently the board is asleep – or doesn’t care – about the city levy this time. There is nothing in the school website about the levy, not a word in support of the city in the “Superintendent Speaks” published Feb 24th. Nothing was emailed home with the parents. Unless “Meet Me in St. Louis” is a secret code for “vote for the levy”, the school cares more about the spring play.

If you go by the absence of yard signs in front of the board members homes that I pass on the way around town, you would have to guess they don’t support the city. I hope the council members remember this the next time the school board is asking for more money.

History lesson

There was another Issue 3 on the ballot back in the spring of 2009, it was also a renewal that had a low key campaign, and passed by 773 yes, 125 no. Given that the economy was in the crapper that year with no improvement in sight, I was surprised by the numbers. I guess Grandview residents are happy to vote for something that is not an increase (and almost always vote for big increases too).

It’s like I’m shouting at clouds when I say this, but the way to keep taxes low and the  city representatives on their toes is to say NO every once in a while. Negotiation 101 – suckers take the first offer.

Reynolds flips on Issue 3

A story in the D says that councilman Reynolds has changed his mind and is now against the renewal issue 3. The city has an $8.4 million carryover in its budget from last year, and Reynolds thinks the tax is not needed. Mayor Ray DeGraw is quoted saying “We don’t have surplus money,” and that every dollar in the issue three is needed for long delayed maintenance and buildings.

There is almost no chance that issue three will fail, so it is an odd position for Reynolds to take. Anti-tax is a popular position though. Reynolds said in the article that he will not be campaigning to vote no, but he apparently thought it was a good thing to send an email to the news media announcing his flip during the week before the voting.

Election results

Preliminary vote – 2087 for the Issue 3, and 741 no. This wasn’t the quite the 80% yes vote of 2009, but 73% is close enough to think that any opposition expressed by a council member had little effect.

*Trick question! There are no signs.

Council presidency moves from Panzera to Kearns

Published January 6, 2016 by justicewg

Greta KearnsCouncil member Greta Kearns has moved up to the presidency position at the first 2016 meeting. Chris Smith, who was also elected on an uncontested ballot in 2013, will be the new council vice-president.

Kearns is a local attorney in private practice. A quick search of the local news reporting of the council shows that she was not associated with any newsworthy policy changes at the council . She was quoted in one Dispatch story about the possible cancellation of the COTA #19 bus, she expressed opposition to the ending of the route. She served as the Planning and administration chair on the council committee assignment. Sometimes council members with more neutral positions are the ones who can earn the most votes from their fellow council members.

Anthony Panzera was first elected to serve as council vice president during a mid-2000’s term on the council. He was elected to the top spot in 2013, and will continue as a regular council member.

Grandview Heights Elections, November 2015

Published November 1, 2015 by justicewg

From VerifiedVoting.orgCity Council

Three seats are up for election on the seven member council.

The incumbents are Steve Gladman, Ed Hastie and Tim Galvin. Their CV and position statements are in the October 15th TVN.

I don’t have any big issues with any of the incumbents, they did seem to be overdoing the smoking issue when they voted to criminalize 18 year olds use of tobacco (Hastie was the only no vote on the entire issue). I understand where that push to keep tobacco away from kids comes from, but I don’t like using cops as enforcers for every problem.

A problematic issue is the conflict of interest that have kept council members from voting on issues. Hastie and Panzara had to step out of the room for some discussion and voting on properties issues which were up before the council because they either were part owners or realtors. Hastie again couldn’t speak for the council when I brought an issue up about the Ohio Taproom’s parking problem in Grandview. I understand some conflict is expected in a small town, but when realtors and lawyers who represent local businesses are constantly causing conflicts, we should make the choice simple for these people and vote them out of office.

The slate of potential new members

A voting slate, in which three people combine all election campaigning into one, and run as a unit, is new to Grandview Heights, as far as I know. It has potential to save money for the candidates, and it certainly helps with yard signs, anyone who wants to help a single person on the slate must defacto endorse all three (Emily Keeler, Ryan Longbrake and Brandon Lynaugh). The TVN story on these candidates showed no particular surprises, standard “low taxes and good services” sort of stuff. The slate approach to campaigning requires them to be bland, they don’t want to say anything that might cause the entire team to lose votes.

Steve Reynolds is attempting to return to the council by himself. He served for seven years as council president, and although he didn’t give much reason to stop beyond “time to move on”, he apparently can’t move on. I like his position on pushing back on the Grandview Yard project, the city already has been arm twisted by the mammoth corporation into bad deals, and it is refreshing to hear somebody say we need to stand up to NRI.

If you want to vote for Reynolds, and the slate, which member do you pick to leave out? That would be a good question to send to the slate members – “which fellow candidate should be dropped from the slate vote?”

Mayor DeGraw is running unopposed for a fourth term.

Three candidates for School board

Current board president Brannan is running for re-election. I have a few problems with her time in office. I’m hoping that the roomful of parents who attended the band director board meeting and read Brannan’s “Keep Calm and March On” letter will be marching down to the voting booth to give Brannan her marching orders.

Melissa Palmisciano is almost an exact replacement for Adam Miller, the JAG attorney who is leaving after one term. I had hopes for Miller shaking things up on the board, but with a single vote he didn’t have much leverage. There are also problems with the attorney mindset, they are conditioned to keep their mouth closed about any issues with their clients, and when a lawyer is on a board, they consider the other members their clients. The community is supposed to be the client, and when there are bad actors on the board, members should speak up (before the voting).

Melanie Mueller is a candidate who was recruited by the same group that made Grandview into a Policy Governance board. Expect her to sit silently and provide the fifth vote. However, if you don’t vote for her, you may allow Brannan to return to office, so a certain amount of holding your nose while voting may be needed.


Reynolds won the highest number of votes for city council, he apparently still has voter mojo. Keeler in second place was the surprise of the evening, nothing in her background story in the TVN hinted she would have this much support. Gladman is the only current council member to be re-elected. Ed Hastie’s last place finish might be a result of the conflicts he had with part ownership of the Grandview and First building, the apartments he tried to build on this property encountered much opposition.

Palmisciano had a surprisingly  strong first place finish for the school board. Brannan will get to keep her spot.

(Later) I was told the reason Keeler won with such a high number of votes was because she is the only women to run for the office in this election, and women vote for her to offset the (nearly) all male council as it used to be.

Courtesy guide for Grandview elections

Published September 4, 2015 by justicewg
No endorsement intended

No endorsement intended

Elections in Grandview Heights are similar to those in other cities. New candidates will make claims that change is needed, those who are trying to hold a seat will boast about the actions they took to deliver services to the voters. We have a big difference from other cities in Franklin County however, no other city is as small and has such easy contact between the voters and the office holders, and office seekers. They are quite likely to be the person living down the street from you.

How should we act when we meet a candidate on the way out to set our trash on the curb? What is appropriate to say to a council or board member when you bump into them at the grocery? Democracy works because our elected officials must respond to the voice of the voters, but they have a life outside of the office they hold. The line between private and public is not clear. This is my take on the issue.

Ask permission to engage in politics

The first words out of your mouth when you meet an office holder or candidate should be “Excuse me Mr or Ms (politician name), can we talk for a minute about this issue?”. They might say “Sorry, I have to get something done here, can we talk later?” and that should be the end of the conversation.

You should hold the candidate to their word, and ask for a time to call, or send an email to them. But you can’t expect a politician to be on your schedule. They might take a few days to get back, that is OK.

Email is the better option

Some people just feel better pinning a person down and having a face to face conversation. Some people like phone calls. The problem with both of these is that the words you exchange will disappear into the ether after the talking is done, with no record or ability to hold the candidate to the words they spoke. You could tape the conversation with the politician, it is legal in Ohio to record anyone as long as one party knows the recording is being done. But you will only have a recording of a voice, and it is hard to share the record of that conversation. When politicians say controversial things, they often later insist that they were not clear on the question, or speaking off the record, or drunk at the time.

Email is written communication that allows both parties to say exactly what they intend. Politicians can’t say “You are asking gotcha questions!” when emailed, they can take the time they need to research and give the best answer to any question.

Emails should be courteous but to the point. Some people though are angry at the actions of the politician, when their child is affected by action of the school board, or they lose property value because of the votes of the council, they can sent some bitter and angry emails. As long as the email doesn’t contain a direct threat to harm the office holder, they still need to reply. This is the “heat in the kitchen” and if the office holder doesn’t like it, the exit is always open.

A politician may chose to simply ignore your email, and never reply. There are some current school board members who do that, and they have a long tradition of acting like they can trash emails at their whim on the board. If I had my way in a better political system, I would make refusal to answer emails an offense that leads to removal from office. Here in the real world, they get away with it.

The family of the politician

You might find yourself sitting next to the spouse of a politician at the ball game for your kids. Is it also OK to ask them to discuss the political issues their husband or wife is involved in?

I don’t think there is any good reason to ever ask the family of a candidate or office holder to comment on their relative’s political stances. The person who runs for office is the one who asked to be a politician, their family didn’t run.

The spouse of a office holder should not be acting as a political arm of the candidate. This is especially hard for the husbands of office holders, they are used to acting as the “white knight” to defend their spouse against all insults. They can get offended if their wife shares an angry email from a voter, and want to speak up in defense. They should shut up and sit on their hands. They were not elected, their spouses took the office, and all the heat that is generated. Again, direct threats of violence are out of bounds, and the office holder may contact the police if they feel they are threatened. But this is still not the business of the spouse, they were not elected.

Stand up and work for your politician

The more people who take an interest in local politics, the better. We need an informed and engaged public, who are not cynical about politicians and the government. Actively seek out the candidates in the upcoming election, and support those who are better for the city and schools. Hand out fliers, post yard signs, and sign support letters. If your candidate loses, take it as a message to do better next time, not a call to shut up and go away.

Tax relief or election pandering?

Published August 7, 2015 by justicewg

Finance committee Chairman Steve Gladman introduced legislation to the city council that would give income tax relief to the Grandview residents who work in Columbus. It sounds like an equity issue when you look at the numbers, but as other council members explained, taking up this issue at the same time the city asks for a property-tax levy renewal next year sounds like they are not really in need of the levy. The projections say the renewal will be needed.

And bringing this up just before the election smacks of pandering to voters.

Gladman defends his actions

I asked Mr. Galdman to explain why this was before the council, and which members were supporting it.

J.W. – What was the reason for creating this ordnance? Was there a call for it from city residents? Who asked for the tax relief?

Steve Gladman – The reason for the tax equity ordinance was to return to the previous income tax approach of providing all residents with a 100% credit that was altered in 2010 when voters were asked to approve a higher tax rate. The decision to not allow the full credit in 2010 was a business decision In 2010 Grandview Heights was faced with a difficult economic forecast and not providing a full 100% credit was viewed by Council as needed at that time. The granting of only a partial credit resulted in $250,000 of additional income.  Five years later Grandview Heights is in a financial postion to return to the previous  practice of providing a 100% Credit.

One one asked me to introduce this,I believe this is a good public policy and attempted to have this considered by Council earlier in the year but is was not placed on the Agenda. Since I believe policy matters should have public discussion introduced it from the floor. Open meeting law prohibits discussion outside of open meetings on pending legislation.  The concept was discussed at the July Finance Committee meeting.

J.W. – Which council members have been supportive of this tax-reduction? If you couldn’t get a majority vote to prevent the permanent tabling of the ordnance, why did you think it was appropriate to bring before the council?
S.G. – I can not speak for other members of Council, but I believe there is a majority that support the concept of tax equity. Based on the discussion at the last Council meeting there are various opinions about  when this ordinance, if passed should become effective.  The ordinance was not tabled and will have a second hearing at the next council meeting.

J.W. – Why should we not believe this was an action taken only to pander for votes in the fall election?
S.G. – I introduced this ordinance because I believe it is good public policy and a policy that I believe is supported by the majority of Grandview Heights residents.

I don’t doubt that if you asked the average voter on the street, they would say they want lower taxes. If there were a group of angry voters that brought this issue before the council, it would be a real concern that the city should address. The problem is that as Gladman admits, nobody asked for the tax relief.

The job of councilman is to do what is right for the city, and introducing this issue at the same time other members are trying to get support for a renewal levy smells of doing what is right for your own election this fall.

I guess that is politics. It doesn’t compare to the time former Mayor Sexton tried to convince the council to sell the city buildings to the banks so they could get a quick cash infusion (as now Mayor DeGraw said, that plan was like taking the city down to the hock shop). It didn’t work for Sexton, she wasn’t re-elected. We will see if this is OK with the voters in the fall.

(later) Apparently pandering trying to cut taxes is a valid way to get re-elected in Grandview, Mr Gladman was the only council member to hold on to his seat.