November 1, 2019

Council candidates make presence known

As Nov. 5 election for Oxford City Council looms, candidates are out canvassing door-to-door, engaging with citizens on social media, and figuring out where they can put out the last of their yard signs. 

One candidate, Chris Skoglind, even put labels on Halloween candy he handed out to parents of trick-or-treaters.

"It's for name recognition, that's all," Skoglind said. "When you look at the other candidates, they've lived here a while... I'm kind of the new kid, I've had to tackle more name recognition and name-to-the-face, that's part of why I'm going around to all the neighborhoods in Oxford,” he said. "We said, what if we did this, and we went out and found there were labels you can print yourself."

Skoglind is running against incumbent councilor Glenn Ellerbe, former mayor Bill Snavely, lifelong resident and University Motors manager Hueston Kyger, and Miami Ph.D. candidate Jason Bracken. The five candidates are competing for three available seats. 

Snavely and Kyger said they've both been canvassing town as well. Skoglind said people like to see him getting out and asking people what issues are important to them.

"(There's) a lot of encouragement for coming and introducing myself, they also thank me for putting my name in and running for office," he said.

"I had one gentleman come up and say, ‘I just read about you in the League of Women Voters. You want to put a campaign sign in, go right ahead.' "

The signs -- particularly those located on well-traveled streets or intersections -- are an important part of lower-budget campaigns like these. Candidates aren't buying airtime or running media advertisements.

The five candidates for Oxford City Council participate in a public forum on Wednesday, sponsored by the Miami Student. From left to right: Jason Bracken, Glenn Ellerbe, Hueston Kyger, Chris Skoglind and Bill Snavely. Photo by Ryan McSheffrey

"I hope you've seen my signs!" Kyger exclaimed, when asked if he'd been putting them up.

Social media engagement is the final piece of the formula. Most of the candidates have engaged in the Oxford Talk Facebook group, and all are doing some degree of work on Facebook.

"I've just been talking to people, I've been going on Facebook and answering questions people have," Snavely said.

All five candidates participated in a debate hosted by "The Miami Student," this past Wednesday at The Shriver Center. Various topics were touched on there, including Oxford's sustainability, housing and zoning, and town-gown relations.

"I would encourage students getting involved in committees," Skoglind said in answer to a question on town-gown relations.

He mentioned getting students involved in re-writing the city's comprehensive plan, which hasn't been updated in 11 years, as well.

"Look at the experience that could be gained with that for post-graduation," Skoglind said. "I just think it’s a win-win situation to get people involved, and not just a limited group."

On the topic of helping deal with the fire department's resources strained by alcohol-related ambulance trips, Bracken brought up the idea of requiring liquor sellers to scan all IDs to reduce the amount of liquor sold to those under 21. Skoglind was quick to say there is a lot of binge-drinking that happens outside the bars.

"We need to engage parents to address parties in houses," he said.

Meanwhile, in local township races

In Reily Township, incumbent Nick Schwab is facing off against Amanda Tuertscher for township trustee.

In Oxford Township, incumbent township fiscal officer Shaunna Tafelski will run unopposed. Additionally, Oxford Mayor Kate Rousmaniere, who is term-limited from being able to run again for city council, is running unopposed for Oxford Township trustee.

In Hanover Township, incumbent trustee Larry Miller and incumbent fiscal officer Greg Sullivan are running unopposed.

And in Milford Township, incumbent trustee Amy Butterfield will run unopposed.