SABINA — Two village council seats are being contested by four candidates, with at least one new member assured because incumbent Billy Ray Anders chose not to run.
The four candidates are Michael W. Walls, James Mongold, Gary L. Goodman and Abraham M. Arnold.
Abraham M. Arnold sees several challenges facing the village government. Among them are a “dwindling homeowner base,” a lack of downtown businesses, bad infrastructure with sewer and water lines, and limited revenue-generating opportunities.
“Village leadership must have the ability to understand the community’s needs, and talk to residents not within your social circle,” Arnold said. Additionally, he said, “People need to face facts in order for Sabina to grow. It needs to change and needs structure to move to the future. Don’t live in the past.”
Evidence that he’s interested in how the village functions and the impact to residents, he said, is his almost perfect attendance at council meetings the past two and a half years, taking notes on what’s said.
He said in his opinion, council does not discuss pros and cons of proposed legislation and what impact it will have financially before they vote on it. Arnold, 51, said he researches a topic to support his comments.
He said he wants people to know he supports land-use zoning in order “to keep residential neighborhoods residential.” Arnold added he supports home-based businesses, but auto-related businesses and businesses that intrude on other people’s enjoyment of their homes do not belong in residential neighborhoods.
Gary L. Goodman said a challenge for Sabina is illegal drug use in the village.
A second challenge he sees is a problem with abandoned or rundown properties in the village.
“I feel that our village needs to be cleaned up,” said Goodman.
He wants to serve on village council, he said, because he does not like the direction the village is going.
“I think we need some different ideas and ways of thinking to make this a better village,” Goodman said. He said he feels it is time for change, and progress is impossible without change, he said.
Other than the time he served in the U.S. Navy, he has lived his entire life in Sabina, according to the 50-year-old Goodman.
“One of the things I learned in the Navy was to be a good listener. And if elected, I will listen to what the good citizens of Sabina have to say, and together we will work as a team to achieve our goal of making Sabina a better place to live and raise a family,” he said.
James Mongold said one big challenge for the town is working to get business there. Government and business have to work together for a municipality to do well, he said, and “in a small town like ours, it’s critical. Without business and employment opportunities, it’s difficult to maintain population.”
Another challenge, he said, is that Sabina increasingly has an issue with heroin.
“I really think the solution to this is education and persistence; law enforcement and rehabilitation can only do so much. The community needs to work together on this. We need to find better ways to educate people — not only the addict but the family, because not everyone can spot an addict and they can hide it,” said Mongold, who said it’s an issue that hits close to home for him.
He said he wants to be on council to make a difference. He wants to promote a better understanding of the responsibilities of village government, as well as the responsibilities of people, “and how the two can combine for the betterment of the village. There seems to be a deficit in the middle there.”
Mongold, 47, said, “Municipalities can only succeed with teamwork, understanding and a come-together attitude. When we argue, point fingers or try to accomplish things on our own, we only end up disappointing ourselves and others. If government, business and citizens work together for common goals, we can accomplish much more.”
Michael W. Walls said one big challenge for Sabina is to get business to come to town “and we on council need to try and bring those businesses to Sabina.” He said, like the mayor, he wants to entice people traveling through Sabina on their way to work in Wilmington or Washington Court House to shop in Sabina.
A second challenge, according to Walls, is a need to keep working on the water and sewer infrastructures plus streets projects “whenever financially feasible.”
Walls wants to continue serving on council to continue efforts to clear Wilson Creek and place it on county maintenance. He also mentioned the possibility of procuring grants to demolish more blighted structures in Sabina, a project he led.
“I believe everyone will agree that since DHL left Wilmington, the village has lost quite a few people and employment opportunities. I personally was affected and lost my part-time job at the air park after retiring from Cincinnati Milacron after 25 years in 2006,” said Walls, 66.
“Communities were hard hit by the evacuation of DHL, but Sabina is one of the few municipalities [government] that remain financially secure,” he said.
Walls added he feels a 106-page zoning proposal on the November ballot “is much too large for Sabina.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.