Grassroot Efforts Pushing for Changes in Swanton Government Gaining Strength and Momentum
A second meeting by a group of Swanton residents and business owners looking to bring positive changes to the Village’s local governing body, aka the Village Council, was held in the banquet room of the Studio 101 Salon and Spa on Sunday, May 2, 2021 to give progress reports on the three initiatives established at the first meeting two weeks before.
The first initiative was to find civic-minded candidates who would work in the best interest of the Swanton community to run for one of four available Council seats in the November election. At the time of this meeting, five people have expressed interest in challenging the incumbents for the office. They are Mikey Disbrow, Sam Disbrow, Brady Harlett, Derek Kania and Patrick Messenger. As of today, Kania, who is a Master Sergeant serving in the 180th Tactical Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard, is the only candidate to officially declare his intentions.
The second initiative was to place legislation on the November ballot to create an all-volunteer Economic Development Commission (EDC) for the Village of Swanton. The purpose of the EDC would be to provide input from all aspects of the Swanton business community and act as a resource for elected officials and staff to explore and consider new economic development ideas and changes to Village policies. The goal of the EDC would be to bring in new businesses and help grow current businesses to expand the Village’s tax base to maintain and expand Village services without increasing taxes on Swanton residents.
The third initiative was to place legislation on the November ballot for the live-streaming of Council, Committee and Commission meetings for the Village of Swanton. The legislation would be written to include the live-streaming as well as the publishing of the recordings and written minutes. The goal of this legislation is to provide a flexible and convenient way for the wider community to access to the Village Government’s decision-making processes. Increased community awareness of decision-making can promote confidence in the integrity and accountability of Swanton’s appointed and elected officials.
The process and rules of collecting signatures and the critical importance of accuracy on the petition was also discussed. According to the Fulton County Board Elections (FCBE), a minimum of 50 valid signatures of Swanton registered voters would be required to run for a seat on the Village Council. A minimum of 10% of the number of Swanton votes in the last gubernatorial election would be required to have a legislative initiative appear on the ballot. Petitions must be notarized be being submitted to the FCBE.
Several of the attending business owners expressed frustration with the Village Council’s apparent anti-business decisions and directives and specifically questioned the motives of Council President Craig Rose, a commercial real estate agent with the Rose Group of Key Realty and Councilman Mike Rochelle, a bank executive with Key Bank which lists small businesses as part of its customer base. No explanation or reasoning was offered.
The next meeting is scheduled to take place on May 23, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. at Benfield Wines located at 102 N. Main Street in Swanton.