Derek Kania to Run for Swanton Village Council

Swanton resident Derek Kania, a Master Sergeant serving in the Ohio Air National Guard at the 180th Tactical Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport, announced via Facebook, his intention to seek election to a seat on the Swanton Village Council this November.  Below is his Facebook posting. 

My family and I have lived in Swanton for about 8 years now, and I have grown attached to what this town offers. I feel that it’s time for me to get more involved in our community. I am officially announcing that I’m going to run for Village Council. Many of you don’t know me, so I have written a letter outlining who I am and where I came from (which can be found below). I hope that you take the time to read it in order to know me a little better. I hope to gain your support on this adventure to become a member of our Village Council. If you would like to support me, I need to submit a petition with signatures of Village Residents. I’m currently on an overseas tour that ends in a few months. If you would like to sign the petition, my wife Cat will be collecting signatures on my behalf. She can be found at CK Sweets, located at 95 S. Main St. Swanton. Thank you for your time, I look forward to coming home and enjoying all the things that I love about Swanton.

Derek B. Kania

(Potential) Candidate for Swanton Village Council

The intent for this letter is express my interest in becoming a member of the Village council, as well as convey who I am, what values I hold and why I believe I would make a good councilmember. By the end of this letter, I hope that you will achieve a better understanding of what I stand for, what my family means to me and what this town means to my family. For you to have a better idea about me, I think you need to know where I came from and what lead me to become the person I am today.

I was born and raised outside of Bowling Green, in what was considered “country”, with a large yard and a shop where my dad owned and operated a trucking company. I spent many hours after school either working in the shop with my dad, or inside helping my mom do paperwork and payroll for the business. At the time, I hated every second of it. As a teenager, the last thing I wanted to do after school was wrench on dump trucks or sort paperwork. It was not until I got older, that I was able to look back and see that the long nights working in the shop, or sorting, organizing, and filing paperwork from the weeks’ worth of work, taught me an important lesson. I learned that if you want to succeed in anything you must make the effort. There is no clocking out at a specific time and expecting things to simply happen. As I got older, my family’s business model changed, and we moved away from strictly trucking and went into paving roads, driveways, and sealcoating parking lots.

The transition from one business model to another was a big leap for my parents. They understood trucking and all the aspects that were involved. However, they also recognized that fuel costs were rising, and the rates for which they could charge for their trucks were lowering due to competitors undercutting prices. As I graduated high school, armed with a naive sense of understanding, I went to work for my parents running the paving and sealcoating crews, and learned the ups and downs of business ownership. We worked many projects of varying sizes, and the lessons I learned from the successes of business ownership, are far less than the lessons learned from the failures. Running a crew was a difficult task for me and I looked to my parents for guidance. They were not afraid to see me fail in how I interacted with the employees and clients. I spent many days and nights trying to figure out how I could improve. What I learned from all this is that I am not perfect. There are always ways to improve any process or situation, and this improvement can come from any level, you just need to be willing to listen. As the business progressed, I could not shake this feeling that I was not fulfilling my potential, that there was something else I needed to do. In the wake of 9/11, many of my friends answered the call to arms and joined the military without hesitation. I sat back and thought about what joining the military could mean for me, my life’s path, and more importantly my family.

After much internal conflict and conversations with my family I decided that I was ready to join the Air Force Reserves. I signed on the dotted line in January of 2003, and headed off to San Antonio, TX. Like most individuals, going to basic training it was nerve wrecking and a stressful experience. Although, it taught me how to push through pain, and that the body can always go further when you just push through it mentally. Setting attainable goals to get the mission accomplished and understanding that you cannot do everything on your own were lessons that I will never forget. The military has provided me with so many opportunities. Education, leadership skills, and management experience to name a few, as well as trips to California, Canada, Spain, Hungary, Iraq, Kuwait, Germany, and a few other locations. One of the greatest things that has come out of my military career so far is meeting my wife. We met while we were both deployed to Iraq in 2007. Without getting into too many details, the circumstances in which we met should have been made into a Hallmark movie. Once I got home from Iraq and settled back into my life, which at the time was in Liberty Center, I knew there was something still missing. That missing puzzle piece that I needed to feel complete was Cat. I called her up and said I want you to come see me in Liberty Center. At the time she lived just outside of Niagara Falls, NY. I honestly do not remember much the conversation after I asked her to come visit. I do know that 6 hours later she was standing at my doorstep. Less than 2 years later, we got married.

My wife and I have travelled a lot, mostly chasing my military career until I finally settled in at the 180th Fighter Wing. At the time that I transferred to the 180th, we had a 1 child of our own and my oldest daughter from a previous marriage. We were looking for a place to live that was close to work, but also had a strong sense of community, and that small town feel. Some friends that I worked with suggested looking in Swanton. I had no idea what Swanton had at the time. I thought it was simply the small stretch of Airport Highway. We decided to drive through the town and loved the charm of downtown, or uptown, whichever you prefer. We realized this was the place we wanted to finally set our roots. After several years of moving around, Swanton was the place we agreed would be the beginning of our forever. My wife and I are both still serving in the military and Swanton is an extremely supportive military town. The annual Veterans Day event is amazing every year, and we both appreciate the time and effort the school district puts into it. I realize that many people try and leave Swanton, but get pulled back later in life, some stay their whole lives. While some may jokingly say it is like a trap that keeps pulling you back, I like to think that people stay here or come back because the underlying qualities that this town provides is what everyone wants out of a town.

We moved to Swanton in 2013, looking for a place we could raise our family, set roots, and live the good life. Swanton has not disappointed. We love the schools, the community, and the charity of this town is overwhelming. When my wife and I opened CK Sweets, we were taking a leap of faith. We hoped, prayed, and wished upon every star that this would work. We had no intention of being a giant chain coffee shop, all we wanted was to be accepted. Let me say, Swanton did not disappoint. Our opening day was surreal. The support the community showed us was amazing. It speaks volumes for the type of people that live in Swanton.

If I am elected, what I hope to bring to the Council, is a new perspective, and a fresh view on how to move the town into the future, while still respecting its past. I want to open the lines of communication and encourage the members of our community to bring ideas to the village no matter how small they may be. If you have concerns, I want you to feel comfortable enough to express them in a constructive manner, and if possible, offer potential solutions. I hope to see higher attendance at the Village meetings, whether they are in person or through a social media platform. I want to empower our elected officials to work for the community, not be shut out of it. Every member of this community, from the Mayor, down to the kids playing in park, should have a say on how they want this town to look and move forward into the future. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I hope that you will support me in this venture towards becoming a Village Councilmember.

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