March 04, 2014 | 02:40 PMBLOOMFIELD — The four people vying April 1 for two open trustee spots on the village board are seasoned candidates. This is not their first time running for office.
So what don’t people already know about incumbent trustees Doug Mushel and William Holder and challengers Gary Grolle and Dave Nusberger?
“They may not know this will be my last run at the office,” said Holder on the phone Feb. 27. “I plan on retiring after this term, if re-elected. It’s been close to 10 years … I think it’s time to get some new blood in there.” If Holder loses April 1, “then I’ll be retired already,” he said with a chuckle.
“What they do know, I think, when people hear my name, they associate me most with being the former town (of Bloomfield) engineer and they associate me with the incorporation,” said Mushel on the phone Feb. 25, adding that one thing people may not know is he’s lived in Bloomfield since 1976.
“I grew up in rural Ohio,” said Grolle on the phone Feb. 27. “I farmed growing up, I farmed … to help make my way through college.”
On the phone Monday, Nusberger said he feels like he’s still an unknown candidate, despite having run in several elections previously. In one race, only 20 percent of eligible Bloomfield voters participated, he said.
“I’m just a hard-working guy, I do what I can, and I’m average … but if anybody wants to get to know me, come and talk to me.”
Another thing these candidates have in common is their concern over village finances.
Their responses to the primary election questionnaires, which were printed in the Feb. 13 the Regional News, touched on the subject to various degrees.
So they were asked to discuss an idea they have that could either save or make money for the village.
Two of them talked about borrowing money.
“I’ll admit I’m in a quandary right now about it,” said Holder. “I’ve never been one to borrow.”
But if the village doesn’t, “I can see massive cuts in service down the road,” he said. Health insurance costs are “skyrocketing,” and it will be “a hard time at the bargaining table” for the village board and the Bloomfield Police Department when they renegotiate their contract.
Holder said the problem is Act 10, and the state “failed to take into account that the biggest impact on a municipal budget … is law enforcement.”
Holder said they want to make the community a good place to work as well as a good place to live, but he thinks they may ask police to pay for some of the health insurance costs.
Mushel said borrowing money could actually save the village money in the long run.
“I feel that we can, through a bond issue or a borrowing, acquire the equipment that we need to more efficiently provide the services to the village that we should.”
How would this save money? Mushel focused on the Bloomfield Highway Department, which is using equipment that is around two decades old.
He said department employees are fixing this equipment, which breaks down frequently, and that takes time away from such tasks as plowing roads.
As a result, employees are pulling 12-hour shifts.
“We spent $9,000 in overtime for the month of January,” said Mushel.
Grolle said one way to save money could be discovered in reviewing the operations of some of the administrative offices, such as clerk-treasurer.
Looking into alternate ways to generate funds “other than to always rely on real estate taxes” might yield ways to make money, he said.
Grolle said he wants to review, reuse, remedy or improve operations.
He said he wants to pursue the positive things that were identified during his first term as village trustee in 2012.
Nusberger said he’s not really privy to as much financial information as board members are, but “I always feel there needs to be more checks and balances and accountability.”
“My priority is to be vigilant with taxpayers money.”
What do the candidates think the community needs, and if elected, how would they address that need?
“I’d like to see more volunteer organizations,” said Holder.
He thinks the proposed Pell Lake management association will help create a sense of community, and he’d like to see the Pell Lake Property Owners Association grow. He’d also like to see a village Christmas decoration contest and a Bloomfield garden club. Holder urged people to go to a village board meeting or ask a trustee for help “because, frankly, they know what’s needed more than I do.”
Mushel said his community “needs a lot of things,” but “I think we need to take a serious look at our organization again” and try to become more efficient.
“There’s still a lot of town in us, which isn’t bad … but we need to take a more businesslike approach.”
Grolle said the community needs harmony. “We need to create efforts to bring together the town and the village, and we need to bring together the various interest groups in the town and village.”
His examples were the group that wants lake improvement, the Pell Lake Sportsmen’s Club, the concerns about roads and those concerned about the business climate. He said he wants to find common ground between these groups first, then work to bring them together.
Nusberger said his community needs a liaison between the board and the residents.
“That’s my primary reason for running. … There’s a significant number of people in town that feel a disconnect from town government.”