2 businessmen seek 4th ward seat
Marietta City Council’s Fourth Ward race is contested this year between two candidates as Councilman Tom Vukovic retires after nine terms of service.
Looking to take the seat in January if elected Nov. 7 are Republican candidate Glen McCabe, 58, owner of McCabe Construction, and Democrat Geoff Schenkel, 45, owner of Resolve Studios.
Both say owning their own businesses, the former as a building contractor, and the latter as an artist, will provide unique perspectives if elected to represent the fourth ward on council.
Early voting began Wednesday at the Washington County Board of Elections.
“I see the fourth ward as three distinct sections,” said Schenkel. “Harmar Hill, the lower west side and the east side of the (Muskingum River) around Campus Martius and Sacra Via all have distinct needs and it’s going to take an attentive eye and good listening ear to pay attention and tend to the needs of those distinct areas.”
McCabe said he is running after having always lived in the fourth ward because of his passion for the community.
“I remember the way it used to be and I see changes that could be made to try and bring back the area to the way it was,” he said. “Blight is always a concern…there’s a lot of burnt and falling down houses that to me have to go because they are a health and safety hazard but also they drive down property values of those neighbors that do take care of their homes.”
McCabe said he hoped to adopt models from other cities to deal with blight in his ward but to also invite businesses to reinvest in the ward.
Schenkel said with his personal experience both tearing down and repairing blighted buildings he can be there to make the tough call either way.
“At the corner of Putnam Avenue and Franklin Street that was a building and parking lot that had not been in use for many years and it began to attract criminal activity,” explained Schenkel. “So when I recognized that these conditions were frustrating the neighborhood and the criminal activity it was drawing I was confident in pulling the trigger there.”
Schenkel said tearing down that building and making it a parking lot used by businesses like Peoples Bank downtown cleared not only the frustration from neighbors but also criminal activity that was occurring in that building.
But in contrast to that experience he said his own home in the lower west side is an example of still seeing the value in properties that can be rehabilitated and put back into use.
“Now it’s a fully functioning home for my wife and daughters and it’s because I was able to recognize the structure could be rehabilitated with monetary investment and a bit of elbow grease,” he said. “The house was built between 1890 and 1895 and we started renovating in 2002.”
From rewiring, replumbing, putting the electric line underground, adding a new heating, venting and cooling system and new windows to beautifying the inside, he said it’s been a labor of love.
McCabe said another issue he sees in the city where he could be of use is dealing with financial strategy.
“One big thing we need to do is pay down loans in the city and we need to set aside from April to April the money needed for payroll and benefits, set aside the $2 million carryover and then what’s left over is what we run the city on and pay for your capital needs,” he explained. “We need to get back to only spending what cash we have rather than taking out loans.”
Schenkel said his background not only owning his own business but working within “different business models” would also be an asset in the city’s financial planning.
“While most people start with their perspective of me as an artist, I hope they understand it’s afforded me with the opportunity to work with several different socioeconomic levels and different business models,” he explained. “And working with schools and being a good steward of tax dollars in public works…there’s not just one business model at work in a healthy community.”
Both candidates also recognized the assets the fourth ward has to offer from businesses still thriving in Harmar Village, to museums along Washington Street and parks throughout the ward.
“I just have a passion for the fourth ward and want to see it thrive again,” said McCabe.
Schenkel said encouraging further development of assets like the River Trail, and a strategic development of grocery and other amenities on the west side could also draw more investment into the ward.
“There’s a diversity of topics that will come up in that section,” he said. “But we also would want to engage the neighborhoods to discuss what would best benefit them before attracting business. Would an Aldi’s be a better fit for example than a Giant Eagle?”
¯ Republican Glen McCabe, 58, owner of McCabe Construction.
¯ Lives at 106 Lincoln Circle.
¯ Married with an adult daughter and adult son.
¯ Graduated high school in California.
¯ McCabe Construction does new construction, remodeling, drywall, painting and other building contract work.
¯ Democrat Geoff Schenkel, 45, owner of Resolve Studios.
¯ Lives at 214 Putnam Ave.
¯ Married with two daughters.
¯ Bachelor of arts from Marietta College, graduate of the McDonough Leadership program.
¯ Works as a mentor coordinator in Marietta City Schools for Building Bridges to Careers.