Larry Reinsmith is running for Mayor of Wilmington in the May 7 Republican primary election. The News Journal asked both candidates to answer an identical set of questions. Mr. Reinsmith provided the following response, which is published verbatim below:
Dear Wilmington Voter:
My name is Larry Reinsmith. I am a candidate for the office of Mayor for the City of Wilmington. As your candidate, I will be on the Republican ballot for the May 7th primary election. I am asking for your support and your vote.
I want to share my background, my qualifications and how I will serve the interest of Wilmington as your Mayor.
Wilmington has always been my home. I graduated from Wilmington High School in 1970. While there, I met my wife of 43 years, Susan Shidaker. We have two daughters, Kelly, a graduate of Wilmington College and Jennifer, a graduate of Wright State University. After high school, I joined the United States Air Force Reserves, serving twenty years and retiring with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant and currently I am 67 years old.
I started my 30 years of public service with Wilmington, first, as a councilman for the First Ward, where I served for six-years. During that time one of our big projects was the construction of the new municipal building.
The next 24 years I served under Mayor Nick Eveland, Mayor David Raizk and Mayor Randy Riley as building inspector, building official and the final 20 years as Director of Public Service.
During those years we accomplished so much; including, the construction of a new water plant, a new transit facility, two water towers, Lowe’s Drive, David’s Drive. We also created six new subdivisions which created nearly 600 building lots and many more city projects.
It was during my tenure that we acquired and annexed the Wilmington Air Park and worked with the county and O.D.O.T. to get the SR 73 bypass constructed. During those 30 years, I worked alongside with all three Mayors, sometimes filling in for them, and handling many of their problems.
I have no reservations about my qualifications for taking on the job of Mayor.
My wife and I have also been small business owners. Susan and I developed and own the Wilmington Child Care Center. We understand firsthand the hardships small business owners face, including higher taxes, increased utility rates, and limited local work force. We just celebrated our 20th year.
Like other business owners, we struggled through the hard times when DHL left and we were hit with the recession. However, we provided hundreds of jobs and nearly 6 million dollars in wages, thousands in local taxes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate taxes.
As soon as John Stanforth was elected, he fired good Republicans with 20 plus years of experience, one being the street superintendent, who he replaced with his son in law. It was at that time I felt like I would be running against John in the next election. And since that time, John has done nothing to make me change my mind. There have been many situation where John has shown lack of leadership, guilty of selective enforcement, total disregard for the law and habitual absenteeism from his job as Mayor.
When John Stanforth ran for Mayor, he pledged that he would not raise taxes and fees. Since becoming Mayor, he has increased the earnings tax by 50% and has raised water, sewer and trash pickup rates and has more planned.
These increases are very concerning for a community that is still struggling to get their heads above water.
One big problem I have with the current Mayor is his prolonged absence from the city. He spends a lot of his time during the winter vacationing in Florida, not weeks, but months.
I have talked with people who go to city hall to see the Mayor and he is never there. They went to City Hall to talk with the Mayor and not an assistant. They feel like they have no representation. We know that the Mayor’s job is a part time position, but we do expect you to be a full time resident.
I have talked to several city employees who say there is no managerial control. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing. A perfect example is the current situation involving the police department. This situation has been going on now for several years and they have tried to keep most of it swept under the carpet. He has employees that have been on paid leave since October last year. The mayor has had many opportunities to show leadership, yet he has done nothing about it. Our police department is not that large. To lose 30% of your force makes it a true hardship for police protection, especially with increased drug use and thefts. The rumor is going around that they have the results of their investigation, and it could look real bad for the administration, so they are not going to release them until after the election.
Even K-9 Karson, got caught-up in this scandal. We were told that because of his age and his handler wanting to move on, that he was being retired. Truth is, his handler got into trouble at work and decided to resign rather than face disciplinary action. Karson was a victim, and we were robbed of many years of his service.
They also fired a custodian as part of this scandal. The city building went 6-weeks without janitorial service. The restrooms got so bad, one employee contacted OSHA to complain of unsafe and unsanitary work conditions.
The citizens of Wilmington deserve better.
All the Mayor wants to do is to put the blame on others. He is not around enough to know what’s going on.
As Mayor, I pledge to be in City Hall on a daily basis; to be there to meet with citizens and employees alike. I will have an open door policy, with total access to me and my staff. I have always had that policy and it works fine.
I will not be leaving the city on extended vacations, in fact, during my 30-year career I never took more than 1 week of vacation at a time. You just miss too much and it’s hard to catch up after an extended period away. I do want to bring excellence in public service back to the citizens of this great city.
Many years ago, the city was continually running out of water. It was then they decided to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to build more capacity into the damn at Caesar Creek, which was being developed for flood control. We were going to do this as a joint venture with Warren County , but then in the eleventh hour, Warren County bailed on us, and we decided to move on by ourselves. This same type of contract was being written for many other flood control damns throughout the United States. Their early examples showed the operating expenses to be around $15,000 a year. Since then, there has been a modest increased every year. Mayors Eveland, Raizk and Riley all approached the Armey Corp of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural resources about revisiting the contract, but they always came back saying that this contract had been used across the United States , and if they opened it up for us, they would have to open it up for everybody else.
Some items I am planning to do are, extend the hours of the taxi service and add availability to the landfill for Saturdays for those who can’t make it during the week and to completely redo our traffic control system; looping everything together, providing better timings, updated controllers and flexible programming. These controls will be from a centralized location in city hall.
I want to concentrate on new development, both commercial and residential. I would like see some new eateries and entertainment venues. I want to keep our entertainment dollars in this city and at the same time draw new dollars from outside the city. We need to do more for the youth of the city. I know the Mayor says he doesn’t want to take a chance on Amazon because they only signed a five year contract, however, I believe we need to embrace this opportunity, because they are making a $35,000,000 commitment and I think we can build on this, These are the kind of jobs we need in Wilmington.
Residential growth is so important as we need to expand our tax base, so more can help with the increasing cost of running our city. The residential development in our city is at a standstill, and no new lots have been created in the last three years. When John spends all that time during the cold months in Florida, he is missing the perfect opportunity to meet with builders, developers, engineers and architects who want to go through all the approval processes so that when the spring comes, they are ready to start digging. We push for more jobs, but we don’t provide housing for the growth. We must be more aggressive in this development.
There is a lot of work to get this runaway train back on the right track and I am willing to do the work to get us there. We can’t afford another 4 years of this leadership. John spends a lot of time out of our city, to places like Florida, Texas and elsewhere and if re-elected , do you think he’ll spend any more time here? I believe at his age, he will spend more time out of town and we will continue to have our city run by his administrative staff. I hope I can get your support and your vote to help make this possible.
Thanks for your support..