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Five seek votes in ICC race

Four council seats up for grabs


It will be a case of odd man — or woman — out once all the ballots are cast for those vying for a spot on Ironton City Council this November.

With four seats up for grabs, only five candidates put their hat into the ring, with two being write-in candidates: Best Rist, Bob Cleary, R. Craig Harvey, Dave Frazer (write-in) and Jerry Brownstead (write-in).

Rist, a current councilwoman, was the only incumbent member of council who filed for re-election by the Aug. 7 deadline. Frazer later signed up as a write-in candidate. Both were first elected to council in 2009 and are seeking second terms.

Rist said she would focus on city finances during her second term if re-elected.

“My top priority would probably be working on the budget,” Rist said. “I’m not on the finance committee so I need to get more involved in that.”

Rist also added she wanted to learn more about grant writing, as well as focus on the storm drain issue in the north end of town.

“A top priority for me would be the storm drains on the north end of town, because we don’t have any,” Rist said. “It floods down there so bad.”

Overall, the councilwoman said the city’s biggest challenge would be bringing in new sources of revenue.

“We’ve got these new projects, the hotel and the restaurant coming in. Just getting all of that done,” Rist said. “It’s just going to be a hard job for all of us. There is going to be a lot of economic development at the same time. With the bridge coming in, that’s another priority.”

Other incumbents who did not file for re-election are Mike Lutz and Ralph “Butch” Huff.

Huff was nominated to fill a vacancy left by Cleary at the start of this year.

Cleary, who filed to run for the upcoming election, retired from council in December, citing changes in Ohio Public Employee Retirement System for the upcoming year.

The former mayor and longtime councilman said he is looking forward to an opportunity to get back on council and work on a stronger budget and get the city departments properly staffed.

“It seems like our city services have been cut back so far that we barely have a street department,” Cleary said. “We need to look at ways to increase revenue so we can hire more people in those positions. … It seems to me the streets are as bad as what I’ve ever known them to be. When you call to ask about a patching job, there is always a lot of talk about, ‘We don’t have the people do it.’ Which is probably a true statement but we need to have more employees. We need to find a way of getting new money into the budget.

“Just the services that you expect to get, it doesn’t seem like they are being met, just as street patching or cleaning up alleys, cutting the trees off the intersections. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed.

“I’ve got 23 years of experience in addressing them. There is no trying to learn what to do. I can hit the ground running. I know how to do budgets and how the departments work. Hopefully we can work as a team and get new job creation and get the thing turned around.”

Both Harvey and Brownstead would be first-time office holders if elected.

Brownstead, who previously ran, but lost, for a seat on the Ironton City School Board, is a retired maintenance professional and teacher who said his top priority on council would be jobs.

“That sounds like a cliché but that’s what we need,” Brownstead said. “We have to give them tax breaks for several years for a company to come in and get on its feet. A lot of people say, ‘Well you’ll lose the taxes on the property.’ But you’ll gain the taxes from the employees they hire. They are paying to the city. They are buying local.”

Brownstead he would put the welfare of the city first if elected and feels he knows what the people want.

“I’m a working man,” he said. “I know where the working people come from. I just feel that I could do the job that would benefit the city of Ironton and the people living in the city. … I just would appreciate the vote and I make no promises until I get in there and see what’s going on. The only promise I make is I will work for the people and the city and do the things I can do to bring progress to this area.”

Harvey, a part-time nurse at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and full-time instructor at Ohio University Southern, said he had no agenda for running for city council, just to make sure there was a member on council who was looking out for the hardworking families who are apathetic towards the government.

“I really feel like if I didn’t run, there was no one looking out for the people like me,” Harvey said. “I represent a big majority of the working people with families.”

Harvey said he would focus on city unemployment and tax revenue.

“The majority of people either don’t work, work for cash or are retired,” Harvey said. “The people that actually do work feel like they are shouldering most of the burden.”

Frazer did not return multiple calls for comment made to his home.