The Washington Rotary Club introduced several local candidates to the community during its “Meet The Candidates” lunch on Tuesday afternoon.
After two representatives of renewal levies spoke to the crowd, Bambi Baughn introduced the first of the candidates to speak, Mark Chrisman and a representative for Leah Foster (Foster could not attend the meeting but sent her husband Keith Foster to address the crowd). Both candidates are seeking one of four positions available on the Washington Court House School Board of Education at the Nov. 7 general election.
“I was born and raised here and graduated from Washington High before going on to graduate from Clark Technical with an associates degree in accounting,” Chrisman said. “I have worked for my family’s water conditioning business for 42 years, the last 30 as service manager. I do have prior experience on the board, I served two terms and then took two years off, not because I lost but because I chose not to run. I feel recharged and I am ready to give back to the community.”
Keith Foster took to the podium next to talk to the crowd about his wife. Foster came to the community in the ninth grade and graduated from Washington High School before marrying and raising four children. Currently, Foster serves on the city council but, despite the impact her husband explained, she will not be seeking reelection for that position as she feels those years serving have narrowed her focus onto the betterment of children in the community. This new outlook helped drive Foster to seek a position on the board of education and she hopes the community will support her on Election Day.
Next, Baughn introduced four of the five candidates who are seeking the four seats of the Washington City Council open this November. In attendance were the three incumbents (Dale Lynch, Kim Bonnell and Ted Hawk) and one challenger (Steve Shiltz). Each candidate was given a few moments to address the crowd.
Hawk spoke first and introduced himself to the Rotarians and guests in attendance.
“My name is Ted Hawk and I come from a good family,” Hawk said. “My wife is a good person, my kids are good people. I have five children and 12 grandchildren, one which was born about seven days ago. This has made me re-appreciate living in a good community and being a part of a good family. When I hear people from the health department and different agencies around, I realize not a lot of children have the same opportunities my children have and I am grateful to be a part of a good family. I do listen, I do my best and I try to follow my conscience.”
Next to speak was Lynch. He began his speech by explaining how the community may be selecting the candidate they want, but that it takes all seven council members, citizens and the city employees to get something accomplished.
“Sometimes when someone runs for something the first time, they run on the policy that it is time to change,” Lynch said. “I never did that because if I get elected, then the next time you shouldn’t elect me again because it’s time for change. People who have been in office for awhile run on ‘Stay the course’ and ‘Experience.’ I never really said that either because I think, ‘Maybe you didn’t like the experience you had and want to get rid of that person.’ So I think this is how you should vote for people on city council, school board or anything else. First of all, you have to be one of, in this case, seven people. If you can’t work together with other people you are going to have tons of problems and I think I have worked well together since the beginning.”
Shiltz approached next to address the crowd. A 1967 graduate of Washington High School, Shiltz said he’s believed in this community his whole life. He and his wife have been married for 41 years and they have three children who have children of their own. Shiltz said, for the most part, most of his family lives and works in the city.
“I have 44 years of retail experience,” Shiltz said. “I worked with a Fortune 500 company for 27 years and owned my own business for 18 years, so I have a lot of experience in working with downtowns. I did seminars all over the United States with jewelry stores on how to brand their downtown. How to bring it together and give it look. How to give it curb appeal. We have to have a strong and safe city so we can live here, raise our children here, and some day hopefully retire here. We have those things here.”
Finally, Bonnell began her introduction by thanking the teacher who covered her class so that she could attend the event. Bonnell said she has always been a part of the community no matter where she has lived.
“During my tenure as a city council member I have been very proud of my work,” Bonnell said. “I believe that I listen, I ask questions and I am dedicated to our community. Street lights, painted fire plugs, safe intersections, and safe, clean and cared for parks are some of the things I have advocated for. I don’t want to make Washington Court House great again, because we’ve always been great and we will continue to be great. We do have some things we need to accomplish. We do need more industry, we do need to improve our workforce, we need more opportunities, places to go and things to do. But downtown can thrive, our parks can be fun and full of people, and we can have more industry.”
Stay with the Record-Herald for more preview coverage of the Nov. 7 general election.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy
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