Two candidates are running for the position of mayor of St. Paris: incumbent Brenda Cook and challenger Gary Doeden. The Urbana Daily Citizen sent questions to both candidates to better inform readers of their positions prior to the Nov. 5 election. The responses are in their words, unless otherwise noted.
Cook: I have been a resident of St. Paris for over 35 years. I am active in Our Town St. Paris Association, Covenant Lutheran Church, Federation of Churches, Lakeland Ladies Golf League, and Coral Lanes Bowling Leagues. I am a graduate of Graham High school (1967) and The Ohio State University (1971 and 1980). I am a retired Teacher. I have served on St. Paris Village Council for six years and served as Mayor of St Paris 2012-2013 and currently since March 2018. I have 2 adult sons and 5 grandchildren.
Doeden: Hello, my is Gary Doeden, I’m seeking your vote for Mayor of St. Paris.
My education background is being a 1964 graduate of Fairview H.S. Sherwood, attended Purdue U and Indiana Wesleyan U. studies being management, supervision, and occupational behavior.
I was in the United States Air Force from 1964-1970 and during that time was able to reach the rank of sergeant and becoming asst. crew chief on B-52 during Vietnam.
My career consisted of various positions and levels of responsibility to include sales, supervision, office management and self-employment. I also served on St. Paris town council in 2017.
How would you describe the impact local government has had on your Village in the last four years?
Cook: St. Paris government has had a positive effect on Village residents the past four years. A new water treatment plant was opened in 2018. Residents now have rust free, softened water. Village police coverage is 24/7. All Village employees are top notch, capable, hard working, quality people.
Doeden: In the last four years’ village achievements have been a new water treatment plant, increase gas tax for additional income for the village. However, we still need new business in and around St. Paris.
What changes or improvements would you like to see happen to your Village?
Cook: Changes I would like to see in St. Paris include: improved streets, sidewalks and curbs, improved playground at Harmon Park and GYAA Ballfields, a multi-use path to Graham Local Schools and Dollar General.
Doeden: I would like to work vigorously on bringing businesses in the village and area and continue to improve street conditions as well as infrastructure. Encourage new residential construction. Work with the state to get some grants for our different projects.
How have cuts to the Local Government Fund at a state level impacted operations in the Village?
Cook: Cuts in state funding caused the Village Council to remove the income tax credit that was offered to village residents. With this shift in income, most services like 24/7 police coverage, snow plowing, yard waste and leaf pick-up, pothole repair, and zoning implementation have been continued.
Doeden: (Gary Doeden did not answer this question)
How can your Village better allocate its limited financial resources so that all departments have adequate funding?
Cook: St. Paris administration strives to work with other government agencies to share services and eliminate duplicate spending. We foster a cooperative win-win attitude which improves village life and spending. We look for grant and private funding sources for all village projects.
Doeden: By way of allocating fund for departmental projects I believe developing a three year strategic plan will help us identify where funds are most needed.