Perkins candidates go online with township voters during Register's Q&A Live

SANDUSKY Sequestered in the Register's Web department Thursday, the three Perkins Township trustee c
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Sequestered in the Register's Web department Thursday, the three Perkins Township trustee candidates responded to readers online during Q & A Live.

Don Bass, Jerry Baumgardner and Jeff Ferrell answered 18 questions in about an hour and a half. More than 40 readers participated in the online question-and-answer session, submitting a total of 83 questions.

Web Director Patrick O'Brien said the event was a success.

"I was pleasantly surprised at the very civil and appropriate nature of the questions asked by our online readers," he said.

The candidates agreed the idea of Q & A Live had them nervous, but they were relieved after the session.

"I thought the whole experience was rewarding," Ferrell said. "It was good to see all the questions coming from the residents in regards to the township and that that many people were interested in all of our views on the issues."

Managing Editor Matt Westerhold said Q & A Live is another way for voters to be directly in touch with the candidates.

He anticipates continuing Q & A Live for future elections and including more races.

Below are the transcripts from Thursday night's Q&A Live.

Q: What people skills do you all have that will help you manage the township?

Jerry Baumgardner

I have completed numerous management courses in a business setting that will help me continue to be a hands-on manager. In 20 years of public service and another 10 in business, I have had the opportunity to involve myself with many people as township trustee, as a Perkins Local School board member, and as a supervisor with the Ohio Edison Company.

Don Bass

I have been selling union-made automobiles for the last 13 years to union members and families. I’ve sold over 2000 vehicles. 80 % of my business has been repeat and referral business. I have excellent listening and communication skills, that I feel the township would benefit from. I bring the ability to talk to people and really listen to them. Over the last 3 years I’ve been a sales manager at Mathews Ford helping other people make a fair living. I have taken several sales courses through Ford Motor Co., and earned several awards for sales and service.

Jeff Ferrell

I’ve learned to be a good listener when it comes to people bringing problems and/or questions to me. Each day that I’m at work at the Sandusky Fire Department, I have to be able to listen, evaluate, and solve problems and issues that arise throughout the day. It is my responsibility to lead people in the time of crisis and other problems. These leadership skills should help me lead the township. I am also a compassionate person when it comes to helping other people. I am a strong-willed individual that is a very hard worker.

Q: It’s obvious from Township comments that if Bell Avenue land purchase would have been made public, that the Township Residents would have said NO. Now that we’re “stuck” with it, naming it Strickfaden Park is adding insult to injury. Who’s gonna change the name?

Don Bass

It’s obvious this was the worst piece of property in Perkins Township to develop, with regards to the traffic from the emergency vehicles. Over 1/3 of it is flood plain. It’s overgrown. I question the decision that the previous board made. There is no place in the purchase agreement which stipulates what it is to be named. That will be up to the next Board of Trustees.

Jeff Ferrell

I believe the name Strickfaden was used because of all the years this was Strickfaden nursery. I remember as a child my dad loading us up and going to get a Christmas tree there. The name does bring some history to Perkins Township. SInce this property was purchased with township funds, it should be up to the township residents to name this park. If the residents want to change this name, then the residents should change this name. We could also sell the name to the highest bidder to pay for this park. But this would have to be a decision of the voters.

Jerry Baumgardner

Based on the survey conducted for the Comprehensive Development Plan, sent to all township residents, it was clear to the trustees at the time that residents wanted more parks. The Strickfaden property was 20 acres that was accessible to all residents. As far as the name is concerned, it was an agreement between the trustees and the Strickfaden family that it would be named Strickfaden Park. I would not renege on that commitment.

Q: Please advise your finance background?

Jeff Ferrell

One of my duties at the fire department is to assist and have input in the annual budget for the fire department, which is a multi-million dollar budget. I have also sat on several committees that helped save thousands of tax payer dollars over the course of my career. I am very familiar and have a good understanding on how public budgets and financing works.

Jerry Baumgardner

In my public service I have dealt with budgets and contracts with Perkins Local School District for 16 years. As a township trustee for four years we had balanced budgets, and contracts with both fire and police. The smallest carryover the township had in those four years was $1.2 million. The township cannot spend more than our amended certificate allows.

Don Bass

For 4 years I ran art sales all over the United States. I managed the company: I ran the warehouse, organized the sales, and handled all deposits. Now I deal with numbers every day when helping people buy a vehicle. Generally a car is the second largest investment a family makes. It’s my job to make sure that they can afford it. I know how to live within my family budget, even when it hurts, and how to save for the future. When times are good you have to put money away for the lean times; you don’t have to spend every nickel all the time.

Q: What kind of management are you in and how many years experience in management. What kind of experience do you have with unions?

Don Bass

I have been sales manager for Mathews Ford for almost 3 years. Prior to being in management, I sold union made automobiles to many union families. I was raised in a union household.

Jeff Ferrell

I’ve been involved in mid and upper management for the last 19 years. During these 19 years, I lead a group of people in extreme conditions. I deal with personnel issues everyday. I’ve counciled employees, disciplined employees and had to deal with budgets. I’ve been a member of a union for 28 years. I’ve been the vice-president and president of this union. I have negotiated several labor contracts and also sat on committees at the state level of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters.

Jerry Baumgardner

As a line supervisor for Ohio Edison I supervised 66 employees, all members of the IBEW Local 1124. As a school board member we had 105 classified employees who are members of OAPSE (Ohio Association of Public School Employees), and another 140 teachers who belong to the Perkins Education Association. When I was a trustee, we had 25 firemen and 23 police officers, all union members. I have been involved with the negotiation and ratification of all contracts with these unions.

Q: What is your feeling about a joint police department between Sandusky and Perkins?

Jerry Baumgardner

The Board of Trustees appointed a committee to study the combining of police dispatching between the City of Sandusky and Perkins Township. I feel we should wait for the published results of that committee before making a decision. With that being said, there must be substantial financial benefit for Perkins Township in order to embark on such an endeavor.

Don Bass

I am a member of the Joint Perkins/Sandusky Police Task Force. The reason I volunteered to be on the committee was because I didn’t want to see another ‘Bell Avenue’ forced on the taxpayers. However, as a committee we have agreed not to comment on this until we have all the research is completed and we have have the facts. Rest assured unless it is a win/win situation for both communities I will not support it in any way

Jeff Ferrell

I think the township should be open to all new ideas that may lead to a potential savings of tax dollars. At this time, I am not in favor of a joint police department or joint police facility. The joint facility will not save the township any money. To have a joint police department there are just too many issues that would have to be investigated before any major change in how Perkins Township is operated. I will see that the residents have a vote in this major change.

Q: How would you handle a purchase of property? Public hearings before purchase?

Jeff Ferrell

Any major purchase of a piece of property or the financing of a large project that has substantial impact on the township budget should be discussed in a public meeting and the residents should have a vote on this issue.

Don Bass

Yes, absolutely we should have public hearings. We’re spending your tax dollars. Any time we’re spending your tax dollars, you should be informed.

Jerry Baumgardner

As residents of Perkins Township, you elect trustees to make decisions and conduct business on your behalf. Public hearings are held for zoning changes, but not land purchases.

Q: Would you have agreed to give the Fiscal Officer the $25,000 per year for the cemetery sexton position?

Don Bass

No way. There are other areas that are making $7-8 per hour. they took money away from the highway department to pay for this. Fairview Lanes would like $100,000 spent on their streets, as well as other streets in Perkins Township. It was not a good decision.

Jerry Baumgardner

When we hired the Fiscal Officer, it was the decision of the trustees to have a full-time Clerk/Fiscal Officer to better serve the residents and the township employees. The additional salary was a result of the increased duties of the Fiscal Officer.

Jeff Ferrell

No. This was a decision of the past board of the trustees. I thought they paid the f/o this extra money for extra responsibilities.

Q: Would you ever annex with Sandusky to save on shared cost and improved income tax base?

Jeff Ferrell

NO, NO, NO. I know Perkins Township will always be Perkins Township because this is what the residents want. I have already stated publicly I was against the shared police facility and I never would support annexation.

Don Bass

They are 2 seperate communities with 2 seperate identities. I’m not against sharing some services, such as mutual aid agreements. But the communities must retain their seperate identities.

Jerry Baumgardner

Annexation has not been proven to provide any financial benefit to the residents of Perkins Township. We are always open to dialogue with the city on shared costs.

Q: What is one of your first goals if you should be elected as Perkins Township Trustee?

Don Bass

Standardized policies and procedures manuals for all departments heads must be written and adherred to. They must be standardized with the union contracts. It’s time to bring accountability and trust back to the taxpayers of Perkins Township. They deserve nothing less.

Jerry Baumgardner

One of my first goals will be to work to restore interdepartmental relations, and with better communications, resolve the impending lawsuits.

Jeff Ferrell

My first goal would depend on whether the levies pass. If either one of these levies fail, my first goal will be meeting with the department heads and cutting all unnecessary expenses from their budgets and make plans for providing services to the township without the additional revenue. Also, I think it is imperitive that the lawsuits between a trustee and a department head and other township employees be settled or a settlement be worked out so the township can get past this issue and get back to an efficient operation.

Q: What would you do to rein in the Police department?

Don Bass

Again, standardized policies and procedure manuals must be written and followed. We have to figure out what is more important to the residents of Perkins: officers in the neighborhoods or going out to play “Rambo” in their SUV’s. I want officers patrolling our neighborhoods with our kids, keeping our streets safe.

Jerry Baumgardner

Trustees are ultimately responsible for the departments. It is essential that all the trustees have better communications with all departments, the police department being one of four departments. More frequent and less hostile communication would benefit all parties involved.

Jeff Ferrell

The first thing I would do is see that all the township policies are followed and enforced equally between all departments. I will see that all the department heads follow these policies. I will also see that the chain of command is followed and the trustees are responsible for the operation of this department. Communication between the township heads and trustees will be improved.

Q: Perkins Twp has a terrible reputation due to all the in fighting, controversial issues within the Police, Fire and Mainteance Departments, and the obvious lack of leadership by the Trustees. How do you plan to restore the Townships image ?

Jerry Baumgardner

As trustee, you are responsible for the actions of every department. Hands-on leadership is needed to restore the relations between the township employees and the public. It’s time to get back to business.

Don Bass

Communication is the key. There has been a serious lack of communication between the residents and trustees for far too long. The residents don’t feel that they are being listened to and their concerns being addressed. I’ve been attending the township meetings for over 3 years and have seen the same thing. The trustees make a decision and then change it by the next meeting. I want all the department heads setting up front with the trustees and accessible to the residents.

Jeff Ferrell

The first thing the board of trustees must do is to restore professionalism on the board and it must also regain the trust and the confidence of all the residents. This is why I chose to run because of my strong leadership skills. These skills will help restore professionalism on the board.

Q: How will you be with the press? Do you believe in transparent government?

Don Bass

I believe that you have to be open with the press. I hope the press is as open with reporting the facts. Yes, of course. That what respect, accountability and trust is about.

Jerry Baumgardner

I believe as long as the press is reporting news and not making news, there is no problem. The Supreme Court of the State of Ohio with public records decisions, have made us a transparent government.

Jeff Ferrell

I plan on working the press. I think it is very important that all the events in Perkins Township be reported on in a professional manner. This will help keep all of our residents informed on important issues and all the township business.

Q: Since our community is made up of more and more elderly, how do you plan to get college grads to return to this area. Have you met people in the two local nursing homes and how are you connected to the youth of the area?

Jerry Baumgardner

When I was a trustee, for the first time in Perkins Township history, we became a member of GEM. We felt that this would help us bring business to the township, and ultimately entice our younger population to return to the township after college.

Don Bass

Our local economy has changed so much. Who would have thought that Firelands Regional Medical Center would be the area’s largest employer. We have to work with the city, county, and state officials whereever possible to diversify our local economy to bring in jobs that involve the medical and technological fields. Those are good paying stable jobs. We can no longer sit back and wait for change to happen. we need to make it happen. We need to learn from the past to build for the future. Yes I have visited and talked to the residents of OVH and Concord Manor, and think that more people should volunteer their time. I have 4 daughters and a grandson. 3 Daughters attend Perkins Schools. I have kids in and out of our house constantly.

Jeff Ferrell

I think one way we can get our college grads back to this area is to work with the federal, state and county governments to bring high tech jobs to this area with the expansion at NASA Plumbrook for the Orien Mission. These high tech jobs will be available to everybody and help all the local governments. I have been to the two local nursing homes to talk to the residents about the upcoming election. I know that these individuals in the nursing homes are special and I enjoyed visiting with them. In the past when my children were younger, I volunteered as baseball coach for both boys and girls and I also coached soccer. I am disturbed once our children graduate from PHS and go to college, there is no place for them to get a job in this area. I think that’s why we really have to push to bring these high tech jobs to this area.

Q: As noted, by recent political events, holding public office is often times a very harsh environment, for candidates. I know many of you. Have any of the three candidates, had experience being publically crucified, because of your position? If so, what was the worst experience, historically, each personally had with this harsh reality of the political world?

Don Bass

I’ve had many insinuations made about me on the Register blogs. The truth always comes out though. I have nothing to fear or hide. Being in sales for a long time, I have a pretty thick hide. Most of this comes from people being frustrated and afraid. If you are open and honest and do the right thing, you have nothing to fear.

Jerry Baumgardner

It’s never a pleasant experience to deal with public criticism, especially if you believe your motives benefit the residents of the township. When entering the political arena, however, it is part of the job and you are often held to a higher standard.

Jeff Ferrell

So far this has been a very positive experience for me. I have met with residents that have agreed and only a few that disagreed with some of my positions on issues. I enjoyed talking to all these residents about our views on these issues. Perkins Township is full of great people and I have enjoyed meeting everybody during the course of this campaign. I have not had any bad exoeriences through this campaign. I would like to also thank the other two candidates for being professional and friendly throughout this campaign.

Q: Has Perkins Township become too large to manage in township format? If so, what should we do? If not, why are we having so many internal management issues?

Don Bass

Standardized policies and procedures manuals need to be written and followed for all departments and department heads. No one person should be dictating to the trustees. The trustees are elected by the people and are responsible for managing the department heads. The tail doesn’t wag the dog.

Jeff Ferrell

Perkins Township can continue to operate under this form of government. There are larger townships in Ohio that operate under this same form of government. I think we have so many internal management issues because there is no one to manage the day to day operations of Perkins Township. I believe that this township must try to hire an administrator to operate the day to day operations of this township. I believe this administrator would help bring back this professionalism that is lacking on the board now.

Jerry Baumgardner

I believe township government is the purest and most accessible form of government there is. Perkins Township is a large township and the only change I would make would be to become a limited home rule township to allow us to better manage the issues with our growth. As far as the internal management issues are concerned, the individual trustees have to answer those questions as we are not always privy to both sides of the issue.

Q: Can you explain how the Ashford park development project passed even though the trustees voted two to one “NO?” The question is who really has the control?

Jerry Baumgardner

It requires a unanimous vote by the trustees to overturn a decision of the Zoning Commission. The sitting trustees did not have a unanimous vote.

Jeff Ferrell

Under law, it takes a unanimous vote of the board of trustees to overturn a recommendation of the zoning board. The thing the current board should have done would have been to make a motion to table the issue. This way there would not have been a vote for or against this project.

Don Bass

That project was approved unanimously by the zoning board and according to Ohio Revised Code anything other than a unanimous denial by the trustees constitutes approval of the zoning boards recommendation.