EAST LIVERPOOL - Three candidates are vying for the position of city treasurer, with incumbent Doreen Marshall not seeking re-election in the Nov. 5 election.
Former city Auditor Terry Sprague, former city deputy Auditor Kathy Buzzard and former city Councilman Virginia Hanlon are challenging each other for the seat.
Each candidate was asked the following questions: Why are you seeking this office; if elected, how would you change or improve you community; what do you see as the biggest issue facing your community and how would you deal with it?
Buzzard said she is seeking the treasurer's seat for many reasons, including the desire to give back to "the community I hold so dear," as well as looking forward to balancing the books and communicating with the public.
She would improve the community by encouraging communications between each department and between elected officials and the public, also by "finally helping in getting the finances back on track."
A lack of knowledge by the community about the city's financial situation is the biggest issue facing the city, according to Buzzard, who said, "My way of dealing with this problem would be to make myself available to the community to answer any questions that I can."
Hanlon gave three reasons for seeking the office, including saying, "As a lifelong resident, I have seen this city at its highs and its lows. I think many can agree that we've been at a low for some time now and things can't change without a change in leadership. The treasurer is an important part of the government and through this office, I can restore an optimism that's been missing and help this city succeed as it once did."
Secondly, she said, the economic climate at the state and federal level is reflected at the city's level.
"The treasurer is a critical position in working through the issues our citizens face, not just those in a certain part of town, but in all parts. It is crucial that those in leadership positions can understand those citizens and help them. I understand them," she said.
Finally, Hanlon said, the place to start in seeing the city and people succeed is economic and the treasurer's department must lead the way in changing the city.
"Change can only happen if a person is willing to act, make big decisions and work with others towards a greater good. I am determined to be that person," Hanlon said.
If elected, Hanlon said, "I simply hope to change the economic outlook of this city. I have optimism that this city can return to a more prominent place in the larger community of Columbiana County and of Ohio."
She cited the use of American Mug & Stein's facility by Starbucks as an example of the opportunities the city has to reach out, collaborate and succeed.
"This city is not lost to a fate of bankruptcy and potholes," Hanlon said, saying collaborating with the mayor's office, city council, auditor, tax commissioner and others in a non-partisan but aggressive and efficient manner will allow the ideas of each office to become realities as they all fight the same problems.
"It's easy to preach jobs, jobs, jobs and to fantasize about bringing new businesses to the city, but without making sound investments to lessen our current debts and without approaching each problem in a realistic but aggressive way, those words and promises are empty, smoke in the fog," she said.
The biggest issue facing the city which can be addressed through the treasurer's office is management of the city's debt and investments, according to Hanlon.
She pointed out it is the treasurer's responsibility to manage the city-level debt ceiling and advise administrators on how to increase revenue, counter incurred debts and make investments to alleviate those debts.
"The treasurer is in an interesting position where they can see all of the expenditures the city makes and is in the best position to make decisions on how to save or spend money," she said, adding that the treasurer should act more formally as advisor to the mayor and provide reports with critical evaluations of the city's fiscal responsibilities, taking an active role in coordinating the collaborative processes needed to change City Hall to better meet the needs of city taxpayers.
As former city auditor, Sprague said she is seeking the treasurer's seat because she is familiar with the flow of paperwork and accounting system used by the city which is instrumental in preparation of the many bank reconciliations.
"Having the most work experience, education and qualifications for the position makes it a natural progression to move from city auditor to city treasurer," Sprague said, adding she is pleased to have endorsements from city Councilmen Ray Perorazio and Scott Barrett.
As for how she could change or improve the community, Sprague said, "As an individual, one can become involved in any number of improvements. Legislative changes and improvements are not typical actions of the treasurer's office, as it is more of a processing center than one which would be involved in community actions such as city council."
The biggest issues facing the city are the same as those facing many small cities, Sprague said.
"Personal pride and cleanliness are not, and never were, a result of any lesser economic level. We have, unfortunately, several generations that 'care not' in many ways, evidenced by trash and weeds and unpainted homes and businesses throughout the city," she said.
As for how she would deal with the problem, Sprague said, "Changing people is difficult. Changing the environment of those people is not. Since they are unable to comprehend that they are creating undesirable neighborhoods, others must turn things around and see that the improvements are sustained through neighborhood watch and any legal means possible. It takes a city to bring back a city."