Powell City Council {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Powell residents will elect at least one new representative to the city’s governing board, as Councilman Jim Hrivnak has decided against seeking another term. Frank Bertone, who has served on council since 2014; Tom Counts, a member since 2006; and Brian Lorenz, who has served on council since 2010 and as the city’s mayor since 2016, all are seeking re-election.Among the five residents challenging the incumbents are attorney David Ebersole and IT analyst Sharon Valvona, who are running a joint campaign. The pair have clashed frequently with council over the board’s decisions regarding housing developments planned in and around the city’s downtown.Newcomers Christina Drummond, a management consultant; Jeffrey Gardiner, a portfolio manager with JP Morgan Chase; and attorney Melissa Riggins also are seeking seats on council.Read more:Powell council race: Eight ponder traffic, development
Choose two candidates from below to compare.
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    Frank Bertone Trust Officer / Product Consultant / City Councilman

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    Thomas S. Counts Lawyer

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    Christina Drummond Management Consultant

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    David Ebersole Attorney

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    Jeffrey Gardiner Portfolio Manager at J.P. Morgan Chase

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    Brian Lorenz Mayor, City of Powell and Urban Planner

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    Melissa K. Riggins Attorney

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    Sharon Valvona Information Technology Sr. Analyst

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Should city leadership attempt to discourage the development of high-density housing in the downtown area?

What further efforts should be taken to ease traffic at the Four Corners and across the city?

Should Powell attempt to increase its 0.75 percent income tax to help fund traffic updates, the Park at Seldom Seen or other amenities?

What else would you like to say to voters?

Age 47
Education B.S. CONSUMER ECONOMICS, The Ohio State University
Experience Current Powell City Councilman Chair, Operations Committee Development Committee Rep Finance Committee Rep Accredited Investment Fiduciary, AIF Member, Ohio Farm Bureau Member, American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries
Family Married to Julie; three daughters - Ava, Francesca and Giana
Campaign website http://FrankBertone.com
Campaign email bertonef@yahoo.com
It’s important for us to maintain our perspective in the eyes of a new development and focus on the best interests of our community. We realize the City is growing rapidly with developers maintaining a high level of interest in our community. We must keep an eye on smart growth. We must ask questions beyond the obvious to properly assess the affect upon our community. Furthermore, with the many development possibilities within the City and surrounding area, a mindful approach to zoning and annexation is important.

In 2015, the City adopted a revised Comprehensive Plan which provides a working framework for the City’s Land Use, Traffic and Financial needs. This plan will serve as a roadmap for City leadership and staff for years to come. With this foundation, an appropriate mix of residential and retail would be a benefit for the City to enhance the vibrancy of the downtown district and serve as a catalyst for additional road improvements.
Traffic in Powell is not only a City challenge but a regional one as well. The recently implemented Four corner turn restrictions has greatly assisted the traffic flow. In addition, the City & other regional partners have implemented 14 projects to enhance traffic flow over the past 2 years. But, the City must continue efforts to plan traffic flow improvements such as new downtown streets, Liberty & Seldom Seen improvements, bike paths, downtown parking, signage, a new traffic signal at Liberty and Grace, continued annual street maintenance, sidewalk repair, storm sewer & curb inlet repair.

When and where possible, I will aim to coordinate our efforts with other surrounding communities and partners. The wide array of improvements will require the City to continually seek feedback from the residents and business community, while developing a funding and prioritization strategy. I will also seek to proactively address long-term transportation needs while balancing our community charm.
Each and every one of us monitors our household finances with a measure of scrutiny and the City is no different. The list of capital improvements is long and prioritized. It's important to note that development revenue and payroll tax streams help us fund many capital improvements.

The City does a fantastic job of running a very lean and efficient service model. With a lens to the future, attracting new business development opportunities is key and would certainly allow the City to avoid a potential tax increase.

I would advocate the City hire an Economic Development Director who would work to attract new businesses. We take pride in our low tax rate and while we desire to maintain that figure, we must continue to consider the future and assess our position to support the City’s long term growth with continued diligent planning & usage of the City Budget, Bond Packages, Grants and new development funds. A tax increase should be a last resort, marked for specific use.
Powell is a fantastic, growing community with a very bright future. The last 4 years have been a great experience to learn about the many great qualities, services, amenities and people of our exceptional City.

I find Powell to be an exceptional place to live and my goal is to maintain the existing services and small-town atmosphere. I believe that successful planning leads to successful execution and while there are many other items that can attract our attention, I aim to focus and prioritize my attention on the following items: • Traffic Enhancements and improvements • Park at Seldom Seen • Economic Development • Financial Management

We have accomplished much but we have much more to do and I am seeking your support to make that happen.
Age 57
Education BA Ohio Northern University JD The Ohio State University
Experience 12 years City Council; 2 years Mayor; 9 years BZA and Planning & Zoning
Family Carolyn - Wife Abby - Daughter Rachel - Daughter
Religion Lutheran
Campaign website http://reelectcounts.com
Campaign email tcounts@columbus.rr.com
Without defining “high-density”, leaves it in eye of the beholder. Low density single family detached homes in the downtown area would harm the already crowded schools and would not support the businesses in the downtown. On the other hand, three or more story residential buildings would not be in character of historic downtown Powell or the comprehensive plan. I believe mixed used that includes housing in the downtown area makes the downtown area more vibrant, creates a more walkable living community and supports the existing downtown business community. Powell needs housing that caters to empty nesters and others that do not want a large lot two-story home with maintenance; downtown housing can be in Powell without looking and feeling like the Short North or Bridge Street in Dublin. When looking at density of any residential housing in the downtown area, I would consider any adverse impacts on the schools, parking, traffic and the existing businesses in the downtown.
We need to provide for additional off-street parking, additional downtown road connections and then restrict turning movements at the Four Corners at all times. I support the City’s “Keep Powell Moving” plan. This plan should be implemented and funded. This is our best opportunity to ease the traffic congestion in the City. My opponents say that continuing downtown development is the only cause of our traffic congestion. However, the railroad track, the zoo and surrounding development and road construction significantly and adversely impact our ability to keep traffic moving through Powell. Just closing State Route 315 this summer had an immediate and adverse impact on the City’s thoroughfares, and it had nothing to do with development. Traffic cannot be eased unless and until our residents are willing to fund the cost of traffic improvements.
A funding source to maintain and improve Powell’s infrastructure is the most critical issue facing the City. Powell was just named as one of the 100 best cities to live in by Money magazine. Yet we have roads that need to be repaved, 30-year-old sewers that need to be replaced and a crumbling bikepath underpass that needs to be repaired. To remain a “best city” we need to make sure that we can maintain and improve the city’s infrastructure, and that requires money. I frankly don’t care how we fund capital improvements; there are multiple ways of doing it. A change in the income tax rate would have the least impact on the residents as a whole, although individually some may see greater increases than others. However, most importantly our residents must understand that we need a dedicated revenue source to keep Powell as one of the best places to live.
I have served Powell residents for 21 years, and I am grateful for that opportunity. During that time, I have seen Powell grow from 4000 residents to 12,000 residents and including the surrounding area even more. We have a great community and wonderful schools. We have maintained a low income tax rate, high quality services like police, parks and rec and snow removal and an AAA bond rating. We have one of the lowest number of employees per capita in the Central Ohio area and had a policy of conservative spending. In spite of the growing pains, Powell is still a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I am proud of our achievements.
Age 40
Education M.A., Public Policy, George Washington U. Certificate, International Business, U. of Washington B.S. Honors, Ohio State
Experience For over two decades, I have worked in management, program coordination, and consulting roles in academia, nonprofits, and startups. I volunteer on Grandshire’s Board of Trustees, the Olentangy Arts Collaborative, and Tyler Run’s PTO.
Family The eldest of four, I live with my husband of 11 years, our two wonderful children, and our cat Buckeye.
Religion Catholic
Campaign website http://ChristinaDrummond.com
Powell’s leadership must stop focusing on previously approved developments to achieve our Comprehensive Plan. Recognizing that parking and traffic infrastructure is impacted by additional housing developments within Powell and beyond, I would urge city government to post hearing notices on properties and adopt scorecards to better anticipate and mitigate both positive and negative community impacts of future development proposals. Instead of discouraging proposals, I will encourage creative approaches that clearly address Powell’s need for public parking, offices, dining, and retail that strengthen our town’s economy while maintaining our historic village atmosphere.

Given Powell’s many walkable, bike-friendly communities surrounding downtown, I will work to attract anchor entertainment, dining, and retail establishments for families, telecommuters, and local employees to enjoy. I’ll move us forward, re-energizing Powell’s government to strategically attract business to our downtown.
From new neighborhoods in Liberty Township to regional events, Powell’s traffic is not caused solely by residents. We need to quickly and proactively implement Powell’s Circulation Plan. If elected, I’ll work to expedite a three-year signage project to improve traffic, making it a budgetary priority. I’ll also advocate for advance social media communications and short-term signage to help residents plan alternate routes before getting caught in construction or event-related backups. To increase foot and bike traffic to downtown, I will work to expedite the development of a safe pedestrian/bike train crossing on Liberty Road to connect Powell's southern neighborhoods to downtown. Finally, to ease parking related traffic backups on evenings, I will work to develop incentives for private businesses to share their underutilized lots during peak times.
Powell’s operational funds must be robust enough to sustain the high-quality city services and infrastructure that residents expect. The city must show that public services are efficient, yet unsustainable, on existing income and property taxes prior to requesting a funding increase.

I have a history of helping organizations strategically leverage partnerships and multiple funding streams to launch new projects and programs despite thin budgets. New infrastructure such as a cultural arts and recreation center, public park, or railroad path interchange can access a broader range of funding mechanisms compared to ongoing general operating expenses.

Powell must clearly communicate budget shortfalls associated with ongoing city maintenance and operations, while increasing revenues from grants, donations, and services. Lawsuits should not jeopardize our city’s ability to maintain what we have and build what voters approved.
I’m a working mother who knows first-hand how Powell is a great place for families and telecommuters. I chose to run for council to strengthen my community and continue my family’s history of public service. My career-long focus has been to help organizations with tight budgets achieve their visions - from scaling up successful businesses to delivering services to those in need.

From working in the halls of the US House of Representatives to the chambers of Seattle’s judiciary, I have gained extensive government experience. Inspired by living in other walkable suburbs with vibrant local business and arts communities, I see the vision where Powell fully awakens from being a commuter-focused bedroom community. Growing up in Worthington Hills in the 80s and 90s, I have witnessed our region’s evolution. In the next decade, Powell can become the exceptional city envisioned in our Comprehensive Plan. Vote for Drummond to add my much needed skills to council to help make this happen.
Age 32
Education B.S. Bus.Adm., Accounting and Finance, The Ohio State University; J.D., Law, The Ohio State University
Experience Assistant Ohio Attorney General (2011-2016); Attorney, McDonald Hopkins LLC (2016-present)
Family I am very close with my family, including my brother Brian, sister-in-law Sarah, nephews Colin and Luke, and niece Elise
Religion Christian
Campaign website http://www.protectpowell.org
Yes. Powell is a family community with great public schools. The current City Council has strayed from Powell’s identity through its efforts to increase population density and approve high-density housing in the Downtown area. Voters rejected Downtown high-density housing through ballot issues at the 2014 and 2015 elections. City Council should listen to the citizens it represents. If I were elected to Council, I expect that citizens would start coming back to City Council meetings because I listen and I truly value their input. Ever since City Council approved the Powell Crossing apartments in June of 2014 (by the railroad tracks and Old Yellow House), it has been clear that, as a collective body, Council does not listen to the people.
There is no panacea for the City’s traffic issues, but the City can do more and we should not further congest the area with unwanted development. Council’s recent efforts to ban left turns at the Four Corners was long overdue. Council should also consider additional signage to educate citizens and non-residents passing through town to use Bennett Parkway and Murphy Parkway to avoid the Four Corners. At the same time we must be mindful that residents and children live in those areas, meaning that the City may need to devote resources to enforcing the speed limit and potentially adding stop signs along Murphy and Bennett Parkways. Also, we should not make the traffic issues worse through City approval of unwanted development projects that will further congest the area, such as the 130+ high-density housing units City Council has approved in the Downtown area over the past few years.
No. If the City stays on its current path, Council will propose a large income tax increase in the near future to fund its $30 million Keep Powell Moving Plan. Among other things, the Plan would extend Grace Drive south through the Historical Society, paving the way for more congestion and unwanted development. “Keep Powell Moving” is a misnomer, as the Plan is more about Council’s efforts to increase population density and develop Downtown than address traffic concerns. Bennett Parkway and Murphy Parkway already provide workarounds the Four Corners, so many Keep Powell Moving proposals are redundant. People should use the existing workarounds and also be mindful of residents who live in those areas, saving us all from a costly income tax increase. On a separate matter relating to the City’s finances, I have been very disappointed with how the City handled the Powell Crossing litigation. Because it is still a developing story, please visit www.protectpowell.org for more details.
I would like to restore the public trust in Powell City Council. I have the integrity, credentials, and listening skills to do that. When I walked onto the track and field team at Ohio State, I had to earn the respect of my teammates. After years of selfless, positive thinking and hard work, I did just that and became a Captain and Big Ten Champion on a truly remarkable TEAM with a collaborative, supportive culture that was second to none. We used this same approach to teamwork, positive thinking, and hard work to mobilize the Powell community over the past few years for ballot issues to protect the community. My professional life as an attorney and Assistant Ohio Attorney General (from 2011-2016) has only further cemented my belief system and approach to addressing challenges.
Age 35
Education Masters of Public Administration and Bachelor in Business Administration, both from The Ohio State University
Experience Vice President at J.P. Morgan Chase since 2008, leading a team of Portfolio Managers overseeing fully diversified investment portfolios. Plus, a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.
Family I have been married since 2014 to my wife Lauren. We have a two-year old daughter and a ten-week old baby boy.
Campaign email gardiner4powell@gmail.com
I strongly support commonsense development that adds value to our community. Further development is the best way to broaden our tax base and strengthen our balance sheet. However, my vision does not include high-density housing anywhere in Powell, let alone the downtown area. Pivoting towards commercial development is a financially more efficient way to grow net revenues, curb added stress to our school district and limit the increase of traffic on our streets. With that said, I strongly support utilizing the appropriate framework and processes provided by our committees, commissions and city council to implement these restrictions on high-density housing.
I believe the ‘Keep Powell Moving’ initiative has made positive strides to alleviate traffic density through our community and I will continue to support this program. However, Powell will never pave their way out of these traffic issues. This is why I believe we need to begin thinking outside the box for alternative solutions. For example, I would like to begin a conversation with state and local stakeholders to explore the idea of adding a commuter rail element to the CSX tracks that pass through downtown Powell. I want to be clear, this is not something that Powell would pay for let alone could afford. However, my vision of the future includes our city taking a leadership role by both facilitating these types of conversations and being creative in our solutions that bring together the surrounding communities to find a common solution to this common problem.
The people of Powell are already asked to pay a large amount of taxes each year; albeit a disproportionate amount are in property taxes that only yields four-cents for every dollar to the city. Regardless, before I would support any increase in our income tax rate, I would need to be certain there was no other way to continue to provide the level of service Powell citizens have come to expect. I would do this in two broad ways. First, I would encourage a reprioritization of expenditures to be sure we are spending money only where necessary. Second, I would carefully review the recommendations of a group of community members that will be evaluating the city’s budget and planned capital improvement projects. Understanding the pulse and feelings of the community through this feedback loop would be essential before I could support any tax increase.
Four years ago, my wife, Lauren and I bought our first home in Powell. I have a two-year old daughter and a ten-week old baby boy; I am running for city council because of them. We plan on living in Powell for their entire childhood and I want to do my small part by getting involved to be part of the future solutions that will ensure our community continues to be a great place to raise a family. I am not a single-issue candidate and I am not looking to attack any other candidate during this campaign. I am simply running to serve my community, introduce new ideas, and bring a fresh perspective.
Age 45
Education Master of City and Regional Planning - The Ohio State University B.A. Geography and Planning University of Toledo
Experience Mayor, City of Powell 2016-present Powell City Council 2010-present Powell Planning Commission 2008-2012
Family Wife - Susan 17 years. Son - Henry 14 Daughters - Annaliese, 12; Betsy, 12; Charlotte, 12.
Religion Roman Catholic
As a Planner I understand the positive impact these sort of developments can have on our community. In our comprehensive land use plan, these uses are deemed acceptable within the requirements of the Zoning Code. However, I will continue to examine these developments on a case by case basis. My record is clear that I have taken this approach with respect to previous development proposals. I believe as the Mayor and a Council Member it is important that we acknowledge our residents concerns of traffic coupled with our their desire to enhance and foster a vibrant town center. Vibrancy requires a mixture of creative places and individuals to access these who are in close proximity. Walkability and pedestrian scale guidelines are key drives we consider when evaluating the merits of a plan on behalf of our residents.
Traffic is a regional problem that is not limited to the four corners; it includes other East/West intersections such as Home Road and SR 315. The incumbents and I have worked to spearhead the #KeepPowellMoving initiative. This plan lays the foundation to mitigate traffic congestion in and around our town center. We have taken steps to address this important concern of our residents by implementing the plan last year. We are working through cost effective measures that are called out in our plan such as the installation of regional directional signage (to route visitors around town to attractions such as the zoo). I recently led an initiative to implement turn restrictions during the afternoons at the four corners. Along with the opening Murphy Parkway, these small changes have resulted in a profound effect on the flow of traffic at the four corners. I am excited to continue to work through the remaining recommendations of this plan for the betterment of our residents.
Powell is at a crossroads when it comes to how we will fund projects for the next decade. Our community benefited greatly during the housing boom in the early part of this century, collecting and saving the majority of development fees we profited from. For a city of this size to have an income tax rate as one of the lowest in Ohio has its pluses and minuses. With the reduction of funds directed to our City from the State Legislature, it has made our job much more difficult to keep up with needed improvements. On the other hand, our low tax rate makes our community very attractive to high income employers. The incumbents and myself have already begun to strategize over what is the most palatable method to fund our Capital Improvements. Whatever we decide, it must be transparent, tangible, and collaborated with our voters. The next Council will have to address this and create a win win strategy to fund these improvements and will need to be creative in our approach.
Thank you for your continued support. I am humbled daily that I have the opportunity to serve you. A lot has changed in Powell throughout the 8 years I have served but I remain committed to representing the views of the entire community. I look forward to partnering with all of you in regards to development and fiscal challenges.
Age 54
Education Bowling Green State University- Bachelor of Arts in Communication; University of Akron School of Law- Juris Doctorate
Experience Practicing attorney for 29 years. Small business owner- private law practice- for 22 years. Ohio Department of Education Hearing Officer. Former Prosecutor and Judicial Law Clerk.
Family Unmarried
Religion Christian
In making development decisions, council must follow the zoning laws and the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Further, a landowner has the right to develop a property in a manner that complies with said criteria.

In the past, the main concern of residents regarding residential development around downtown was traffic. Today, since many changes have been implemented, the traffic situation is much improved.

Certainly, city leaders should work with those developers who choose to develop residential properties in the downtown area to implement plans that preserve the character of downtown and address potential traffic issues. However, council cannot prohibit a developer from proceeding with residential development plans that comply with zoning laws and the city's Comprehensive Plan.
We must keep in mind that traffic issues are not just a Powell problem. Because we live in such a desirable location, we continue to grow. With growth comes traffic.

Now that the intersections of St. Rt. 315 and Sawmill Parkway with Powell Road have been significantly improved, the city has done a great job in addressing the Four Corners traffic issues. The signs directing traffic around the Four Corners onto the Murphy Parkway Extension, Bennett Parkway and Grace Drive have allowed traffic to move around downtown without downtown being closed off to traffic.

Further, the implementation of “no left turns” on weekdays between 4-7 p.m., along with the new traffic light at Powell Road and Grace Drive, has also helped ease the traffic problem immensely. The soon to be placed traffic light at Liberty Road and Grace Drive will provide even more relief.

Depending on available funding and a viable plan, the next area of improvement should be traffic surrounding The Columbus Zoo.
We currently impose the lowest tax rate in the state of 0.75 percent. However, per the Fiscal Analysis section of the city's Comprehensive Plan, if we do not make “significant” changes to our revenue structure, we will be facing a projected deficit that will continue to grow. This finding is very concerning and does not take into account the recent financial settlement with Powell Crossing.

I will strive to keep taxes low for our city. However, if we do not move forward and increase our revenue stream, we may have no practical alternative other than to raise taxes in order to fund capital improvements and public safety services, let alone parks and the other amenities that we now enjoy.

We have to come up with realistic ideas and solutions to generate more revenue. I will push to hire an Economic Development Director who will be charged with searching out business/economic opportunities that will blend in with our community and generate much-needed revenue for the city.
We are at a very crucial stage in our city’s growth and we need to be very concerned about how we proceed. Today's decisions will affect our city for years to come. I see Powell continuing to grow at a manageable rate that our infrastructure can support, while continuing to preserve the charm of downtown and our family-friendly atmosphere.

As an attorney, hearing officer, board member, former prosecutor and former judicial law clerk, I have experienced many situations where I’ve had to make the hard decisions that were required in order to follow the law and/or to fulfill my fiduciary duties. I am an issue-spotter, a problem-solver and a listener.

I have lived in Powell for 16 years and care deeply about the future of our city. If given the opportunity to serve on council, I will use my training and experience to provide ethical, legal and well-reasoned ideas and solutions that can be realistically implemented to move our city forward.
Age 68
Education B.A. Political Science, MAT, University of Pittsburgh, B.A. Computer Science, University of Tenn, Pursing Masters at OSU
Experience A 30+ year information technology professional, working most recently at OSU Wexner Medical Center. I have experience working with diverse teams of individuals, managing complex issues, and completing challenging projects.
Family Married 31 years to husband Joseph. Extended family of brothers, sister, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Religion First Community Church
Campaign website http://www.ProtectPowell.org
Campaign email ebersolevalvona@gmail.com
Yes. In a 2014 debate about an unpopular high-density development, both the City Planning and Zoning Commission and the Powell City Council raised issues of traffic and safety along Powell Road. Statements describing Powell Road as “an already maxed out roadway” and “at capacity” appear in their reports and minutes. One Council member said that “traffic woes” had reached a “tipping point”. A traffic engineer warned that road improvements made would not reduce the volume of traffic. These and other concerns motivated Powell voters to reject high-density housing close to downtown Powell in the 2014 and 2015 elections. Ignoring this mandate, current Council’s high-density approach continues to strain infrastructure, which they now say will cost $30 million to fix, while achieving limited improvement. As a member of Council, I would pursue maintaining the character and environment in downtown envisioned by the citizens.
There is no easy-fix for traffic issues across Powell that have been years in the making by unabated development. One cost effective method to ease traffic at the Four Corners would be to stop approval of high-density housing developments nearby that will exacerbate existing traffic issues. Signage that helps residents and non-residents avoid the Four Corners by taking advantage of Bennett and Murphy Parkways would make the best use of these improvements. However, children on these alternative routes should be protected with additional resources devoted to the enforcement of speed limits and additional stop signs where needed. Council’s recent efforts to ban left turns is a step in the right direction and should be supported by limited additional turn options off of Powell Road..
The tax should not be increased to fund the approach described in ”Keep Powell Moving”. The plan, among other things, extends Grace Drive through the Historical Society to rejoin Liberty further south and connects Hall to Liberty. This plan negatively impacts adjacent, established neighborhoods, adds to congestion and offers limited improvement to Powell traffic. A tax increase should not be used to attempt to solve the problems caused by a downtown surrounded by dense housing imagined by City Council and rejected by the voters. A future increase to add green space, to add needed services and to improve quality of life for citizens could be considered. Any plan to increase taxes should take all demographic sectors into consideration, for example, older citizens on fixed incomes, and should be able to make its benefits clear to voters.
I have enjoyed living in Powell for 21 years. My neighbors are committed to family, good schools, and neighborliness. I appreciate living in a tree-city with inviting green spaces. After frustration with traffic, one of the top issues raised by residents in City surveys, is a feeling that City Council is not listening to them. Since 2014, I have been privileged to work with committed citizens across the city on efforts to protect the character of Powell. As a member of City Council, I plan to find ways to reach out to residents through HOAs, community events, and individual meetings and to incorporate their perspective into my work and voting. I support appropriate growth and development in Powell and I share the perspective with the majority of citizens that high-density housing is not the right kind of development for downtown. I believe the citizens of Powell would benefit from new City Council members with a fresh perspective and I have that fresh perspective to offer.
Voter's Guide