With early voting set to begin next week, city commission candidates gave their views on various issues at the Council of Neighborhood Associations Candidates Night on Monday night at the City Hall forum.
Four candidates — incumbents Dan Martin, Karen Duncan and Joyce Chilton and challenger Dan Martin — are vying for three spots on the city commission.
The candidates were given a few minutes to express their opinions on why they should be chosen to represent the city.
Chilton said she campaigned on an open-door policy when she was elected in 2009. The door is still open, she said, to help continue the progress made in Springfield.
“If you call me, I’ll call you back,” Chilton said. “I will meet with you in my office or on site to address your problem or issue.”
Peggy Hannah, the chair for Karen Duncan’s campaign, represented Duncan, who could not attend because of a family emergency. She read a prepared statement from Duncan, who was first elected in 2005. Duncan wrote that she’ll continue to work in cooperation with groups like the Dayton Development Coalition and Wittenberg University’s Hagan Center and improve services in the city.
“I have the time and energy to work with citizens, staff, community groups, business leaders and my fellow commissioners to make the best decisions possible,” Duncan wrote.
Martin, who is seeking his fifth term on the commission, said he feels his experience is key.
“I’m able to interact with a variety of people across the community to do good things for the city,” Martin said. “Every day I talk to small business owners, people in the faith community, people in the nonprofit community, people trying to make a difference, and I enjoy working with those people.”
Challenger Harkins, the former chair of the Clark County Republican Party, said he’s concerned about the drop in population in the city. He believes the best way to increase the population is to lower the income tax from 2 percent to 1 percent and to provide full income tax credit to commuters who live in the city but work outside of it.
“We need to reverse the trend,” Harkins said. “We need to cut the income tax rate, and we need to restore credit for commuters. We need to be more bold and try to combine city and county government services.”
An audience question raised the subject of granting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents protection under the city’s discrimination laws. The commission rejected such legislation last year by 3-2 vote.
Three candidates, Chilton, Martin and Harkins, said they all believe it’s a state issue and not a municipal issue.
Hannah spoke for Duncan, saying she strongly supports sexual orientation anti-discrimination legislation.
“There is discrimination in this city,” Hannah said. “I think they’re just passing the buck to say it’s a state issue.”
CONA also issued its support for the developmental disabilities levy. The forum will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Channel 23 throughout the month of October.
Early in-person absentee voting begins Oct. 1. Residents can vote Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Clark County Board of Elections, 3130 E. Main St. The office will also be open on Saturday, Nov. 2, the last day for absentee voting, from 8 a.m. to noon.
The general election will be held Nov. 5. For more information, visit electionsonthe.net/oh/clark.