NORTH KINGSVILLE — Four incumbents seeking re-election in November hope to fend off a challenge from two first-time office-seekers.
Members Ronald McVoy, Michael Mauro, Timothy Green and Mike Fitchet are on the ballot, along with Mindy Bisbee and Bob Adkins, who are making their first bid for an elected position. Here’s a look at the candidates:
A multi-million dollar Route 20 bridge replacement project in 2015 piqued Adkins’ interest in local government. The bridge, which links North Kingsville and Conneaut, was constructed a short distance from where Adkins was working on heavy mechanical equipment.
Speaking often with project supervisors, Adkins said he learned the village could have done things decades ago that could’ve minimized the project’s effect on traffic.
“I discovered things,” he said. “When they put the bridge in, they didn’t put in a road. Seventy-five or 80 years ago, they didn’t do things.”
Adkins said his practical experience would be an asset on council. Now retired, he has worked at Elkem Metals and in the construction trade in addition to his mechanical work.
He’s a long-time resident, moving to North Kingsville in 1951.
“I’ve lived on the same street since 1954,” Adkins said. “I feel I should give something back to the village.”
Adkins wants to see more resident involvement in local government.
“I would promote (better attendance) at meetings,” he said. “We need to get more people to meetings.”
Village leaders are doing a good job, Adkins said, but he believes there’s always room for improvement.
“People say ‘But that’s the way it’s always been,’” he said. “I don’t like that. We elect people we think will do a good job but don’t hold them accountable.”
Bisbee said she would like to serve as a conduit between village residents and local leadership.
“I want to give a lot of people a voice,” she said. “What do they want to see or don’t want to see in their community? I want to open up communication.”
A graduate of Edgewood High School who moved from the area years ago, Bisbee returned to Ashtabula County in 2006 and located in North Kingsville 2 1/2 years ago.
“I’m so glad we made that move,” she said.
Bisbee has a paralegal certificate and has worked in the legal field.
“I have a passion for the law, for government and law enforcement,” she said. “We have to keep our community safe and our kids safe.”
Today she is a stay-at-home mother, providing her time to serve on council.
“I have the time for the position,” she said. “This would be my job.”
Bisbee said she has chaired several committees over the years, giving her management experience.
“There’s a lot I can bring to the table,” she said.
If elected, Bisbee said she would work to ensure village employees have the necessary equipment to do their work.
“I would make sure everything is updated,” she said.
Overall, Bisbee said she is pleased with the operation of village government.
“I have no major concerns,” she said. “Everybody’s doing a great job. They’re great people. I want to be a part of that.”
Fitchet, appointed to village council in August after Dennis Kortyka stepped down, is seeking his first full term on Nov. 7. Almost three months on the job, Fitchet said he has found the experience interesting.
“It’s nice to work with fellow council members and (administrators),” he said. “I enjoy working with people.”
Fitchet, Ashtabula County’s Emergency Management Agency director, has served on numerous panels and committees over the years, including North Kingsville’s zoning appeals board. He spent more than 40 years with the Ashtabula Township Fire Department and served as fire chief.
“My eyes were pretty wide open, based on all my experiences at different levels of government,” he said. “A lot of my background is in planning. Giving employees the tools to do their jobs requires planning.”
Plenty is going on the village to keep officials busy, including the municipal golf course and campground, Fitchet said. Good staff allows the village to operate with a “well-managed budget,” he said.
Fitchet said a priority is to ensure the village remains a place where businesses and residents want to remain while attracting new employers.
“It starts with having a safe community,” he said.
Residents seem pleased with the village’s direction, Fitchet said.
“You don’t hear a lot of negativity coming out of the community,” he said.
Green was appointed to council in January 2016 to fill the seat Timothy Zee resigned after he was elected North Kingsville’s mayor. Green will be seeking his first full, four-year term in office.
“I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years, and I’m interested in strengthening that,” he said.
Green’s platform hinges on a few key points: resident involvement, safety, recreation and the village economy. Green said nothing must impede residents’ participation in government, and for that reason he has pushed for each ordinance to receive three full readings before a vote is taken.
“We must make sure we have processes in place to ensure transparency,” he said.
North Kingsville’s safety departments must also be properly equipped so residents “can feel safe and cared for,” Green said. The publicly-owned golf course and campground are doing well and enjoyed good seasons in 2017, he said.
Green has worked as executive director of Sheldon Calvary Camp in North Kingsville since 2002.
Green said he and his peers on council are mindful of the village’s finances.
“Budgetarily, we’re living within our means,” he said. “We’re a frugal bunch.”
More improvements are ahead, Green said.
“We’re making progress and trying to take care of residents,” he said.
Keeping North Kingsville on a solid financial footing is one of the priorities for Mauro, who has served more than 15 years on council.
“Fiscal responsibility will continue to be my main focus for our residents,” he said. “I want to see that our streets are well-maintained and safe.”
Experience is important in municipal government, Mauro said.
“The knowledge I have gained will enable me to continue to serve the residents of North Kingsville in a manner they can trust,” he said.
Mauro, a supervisor with a construction firm, has served many years as chairman of council’s parks and campground committee, and has seen the municipally-owned campground grow over the years. Mauro said he has designed many of the improvements at the campgrounds.
“Over the last six years our campground has increased our revenues significantly,” he said. “We have built a new store with a game room, added more pull-through spaces and landscaped the campgrounds to make it even more desirable.”
Over the years, Mauro helped launch the village’s popular “Trunk or Treat” program at Halloween and helped plan North Kingsville’s centennial observance in 2013.
Mauro said he enjoys watching the village grow.
“I want to continue to be the voice for the village residents and address any and all concerns our community has,” he said. “I am committed to see our village continue to seek growth, yet always be a desirable place to live. I will continue to see that our village is a safe and pleasant place to live in.”
McVoy, a local businessman seeking his second term on council, said he wants to remain a part of what he considers a progressive and effective village council.
“We have a great council,” he said. “We all work together. There’s no animosity. We’re all trying to do what’s best for the village.”
The council member, who served seven years as mayor (between 2000 and 2007) said he would like to see North Kingsville create a master budgetary plan for spending and capital expenditures.
“The way the economy is going, we need to look at a three-to-five-year plan for the village,” McVoy said. “We need to look to the future. You never know when the government will say we have to put in sewers. So far we’ve been pretty proactive and not so reactive. When you’re proactive you have planning done and there are no surprises.”
McVoy, who also serves as chair and Ashtabula County’s representative to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, said he is pleased to see the work that has been accomplished via North Kingsville’s street repair program, financed by a .3 percent increase to the municipal income tax hike approved by voters in 2014.
“We’ve never had the money over past years,” he said.
McVoy said he and former council member Edward Rettinger helped get that road money secured by launching a letter-writing campaign to village residents.
“I helped push to get that road levy passed,” he said.
McVoy said he works for the entire village.
“I want to make sure things are done right for all the people, not just a few select groups,” he said.