Election 2021: 4 candidates vying for 3 City Council At-large seats


By Andrew Carter - acarter@aimmediamidwest.com



GALION — Four local residents are seeking election to the three at-large seats on Galion City Council.

Incumbents Kara Ault and Dr. Thomas G. Fellner are both on the Nov. 2 general election ballot along with Paula E. Durbin and Jennifer Kuns. Kuns is a write-in candidate.

Kara Ault

Ault was appointed to Galion City Council in December 2020 to fill a vacancy. She works works for Abilities in Action as the operations director. She is a former board member of the Galion City Health Department and has served in other volunteer capacities in the community.

Concerns and priorities: “I think right now, we’re facing an issue with transportation, access to services and jobs in the area. I think something else that we are focusing on is economic development and getting more business into this area, not only for job creation, but also for recreational value.

“We’re also continuing to look at the public water and sewer issues that have been going on and are being dealt with. That is an important piece of our local infrastructure.

“What I’ve learned on council this year is that we’re learning about new issues all the time. I think having the ability to listen to the citizens and hear what the business owners have to say and things that come up from different findings and reports that different agencies do on the city, those are things that, of course, I want to make my focus on and make sure that all the needs are being met — from the citizens and the businesses and the other governmental agencies.”

Why should constituents vote for you on Nov. 2? “I would say that in the past year I’ve been really responsive to residents that have come up to me, listening to their concerns, and either directing them to the right person or bringing those concerns up myself to different council members or committee members to make that change. I think that’s something that’s really important in a local government official, is the ability to listen to people and to effect change that impacts the everyday citizen. Also, I’ve always lived in Galion. The City of Galion is important to me and I want to see it be the best that it can be.”

Paula E. Durbin

Durbin worked in the travel and tourism industry for forty years, including serving as sales, catering, and concessions manager for the City of Waco, Texas, convention center and as director of the Mohican-Loudonville Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is a former Galion city treasurer.

Concerns and priorities: “I would like to see us have clean and safe water. That’s something I’ve been researching and I’m very disappointed that nobody on council is discussing it. I know it’s going to be an expensive process, but it has to be done. We pay utilities and we’re entitled to clean and safe water.

“I also think we need to spend money on the infrastructure that we have instead of building a Freese Center at this time. Maybe it’s a good idea for the future, but right now I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m against the Freese Center; we don’t need it. Five million (dollars) is just too much. I think we could take that Freese money and put it to better use. There’s just too many unknowns with the Freese Center. This money from the Freese Foundation is gift and it should be used very carefully, and it’s use should be thought out very carefully. My thought it is that if the Port Authority wants to do this, they should show the citizens of Galion they can raise the money and then maybe give them the Freese money.

“I really think we should give something back to the citizens and I would like to see the $20 license fee done away with. We haven’t given anything back to the citizens since we were in fiscal emergency. They pay higher taxes. They pay higher utilities. I just think it’s time to give something back.”

Why should constituents vote for you on Nov. 2? “I would say to them, ‘You elected me to this position and I will work for you, not for the interests of a few individuals in this town, but you as a group of citizens. You deserve better than what you’ve been getting recently.’”

Thomas G. Fellner

Fellner, who owns and operates a local dental practice, has served on City Council for a total of 11 years. He said he chose to seek reelection because he believes “the city is poised to continue moving ahead with some good ideas and I felt like I had the energy and desire to seek another term.”

Concerns and priorities: “I think the top priority is to attract more businesses to the area. I believe we’re going in that direction. We have begun to rezone an area out in the (State Route) 61 corridor that would be a very large parcel for an industry to come in and build, as opposed to the (State Route) 598 corridor, which is kind of crowded there by the (U.S. 30) interchange. The 61 interchange is wide open.

“I think one of the advances the city has made is the establishment of a Port Authority. A Port Authority allows projects to be done that a municipality would not be able to do. Housing is a priority. There are some single-family homes scheduled to be built in the Renschville area. I think the establishment of the Port Authority allows us to take advantage of projects like this.

“It’s been a long, hard fight, but a grocery store (Buehler’s Fresh Foods) is finally on its way here. I think it’s tragic that we lost Geyer’s, but the administration was working very hard behind the scenes to try and attract someone. They kept at it and it’s now a reality.

“I believe the Freese Center is a good idea. The (Sleep Inn and Suites) on State Route 598 has been criticized for a long time, but the administration is working with the new owners to get that reestablished. I think that’s an asset.

“I think public safety and the continued efforts in drug enforcement is also a priority. We’re also taking down condemned properties, trying to make the area look a lot better. The splash park on the east side is another asset for the city.”

Why should constituents vote for you on Nov. 2? “I believe that I am committed to the city’s well being. I feel like I have the city’s overall best interests in mind. I’m not a native here, but I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’m committed to making the city a better place.”

Jennifer Kuns

Kuns is an assistant vice president for Park National Bank. She has been active as a community volunteer, serving with numerous organizations including the Freese Foundation, Galion Big Four Depot Board, Galion Area Parents Group, Galion Community Improvement Corporation, Galion-Crestline Chamber of Commerce, and Crawford County Land Bank. She also served as a member of the Galion City Schools Board of Education for two terms.

Concerns and priorities: “I’ve sat on the Freese Foundation Board for several years now and I see both sides to the (proposed Freese Center) project. I’m naturally risk-averse, so numbers and sustainability are important to me personally. But I also know you have to create something to have something. I do feel that the Freese Center, if managed correctly, could spur economic development and ultimately increase the quality of life for Galion residents, but it’s really up to the Galion residents as to whether or not that comes to fruition. I don’t see that as a personal vote; I see that as a city vote. What do the residents want?

“Regarding the utility rates — I’ve done a lot of research about that. Just comparing rates on www.compareelectricrates.com, the Ohio average is about 12.38 cents per kilowatt. Galion is at 9.16 (cents per kilowatt) plus a $12 customer fee. I want to hear concerns from the citizens and be accountable if the rate is unjustified. That’s something I want to delve into a little more. To me it doesn’t seem disproportionate, but I definitely want to hear more from the citizens about that.

“I definitely want to focus on quality of life and economic development. I love driving around Galion and seeing the projects that I’ve been involved with personally over the years. The bike path is a huge one. It hosts visitors and groups every day. It brings the community together for fellowship and exercise and, to me, that is a quality of life initiative that I’m proud to have been a part of. Of course, there’s the splash park, the tennis courts, all of the park improvements; everything that I’ve been able to help out with being on the Freese Foundation Board has increased the quality of life for Galion residents and that is extremely important to me to continue in the future.”

Why should constituents vote for you on Nov. 2? “I will be your voice on city council. That’s the point of being a city council person, is to be the voice of the residents of Galion. Every citizen that has a concern is important.”

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By Andrew Carter

acarter@aimmediamidwest.com