The Beverly mayor's race pits a self-described "hometown boy" against a person relatively new to the area who wants more open and transparent business at the village.
It is the first time since 1999 Beverly residents have had competition for the mayor's seat, which is a nonpartisan race.
Incumbent Clem Biedenbach, 57, of 207 Seventh St., Beverly, stepped into the position in 2006 from his post as council president when former Mayor Jay Arnold resigned. Arnold has since sought and won a council seat that he continues to hold.
Biedenbach and some members of council have come under fire in recent years for attempts at implementing contentious zoning ordinances, and most recently, the handling of issues at the village police department, including the questionable firing of two officers.
Biedenbach's challenger, Rex Kenyon, 68, of 220 Fifth St., Beverly, said village residents and employees deserve better. Kenyon and his wife, Beth, moved to the area in 2006 from Columbus.
"I want to be mayor because I don't like the way the current administration has treated the people of this community or its employees," he said.
On the ballot
Experience: Mayor since 2006. Also served as village council president.
Oc-cupation: Retired custodian at Fort Frye Schools.
Family: Wife, Sharon.
Address: 207 Seventh St., Beverly.
Experience: Currently serving on the Beverly Village Board of Public Affairs.
Oc-cupation: Retired corporate executive at Emerson Electric in Columbus. Also served five years in the Air Force as a Combat Controller, including a tour in Vietnam.
Family: Wife, Beth.
Address: 220 Fifth St., Beverly.
Kenyon said Biedenbach routinely conducts business outside the public eye, citing the termination last year of former village police Chief Patrick Brockmeier.
"I still don't know the reason he was terminated," he said.
Asked about the recent firings, Biedenbach declined to comment.
"I've been advised by our attorney not to comment about that," Biedenbach said.
The mayor also declined to answer any other questions about the race but offered an email with the reasons he has decided to seek reelection.
"As a 'hometown boy,' I have always been proud to live in the Village of Beverly," he wrote. "After 12 years of public service, I continue my desire to improve the way of life for residents and to assist with the success of merchants while developing more opportunities for new business."
Biedenbach continued that his work has been challenging at times but that he is proud of improvements he has been involved with, including renovation of the community swimming pool, construction of new sidewalks and general maintenance of village streets.
Kenyon, a retired corporate manager for Emerson Electric in Columbus, is currently serving on the Beverly Village Board of Public Affairs. The board oversees water, electric and sewer service in the village.
Kenyon said his business background will help the village down the road. He pointed to a recent announcement that the nearby AEP Muskingum River Plant would be downsizing over the next few years.
"We need to be preparing now for what that will mean to the workers and the local tax base," he said.
Kenyon's wife, Beth, currently serves on village council. She was one of three new council members elected in November 2009. Many attributed the high turnover rate to residents' frustrations over the zoning ordinance, which had been a point of contention for most of that year.
Critics said the 120-page ordinance was too complex and infringed on people's personal property rights. For example, the ordinance dictated not only what size signs could be but what colors and fonts they could display. The ordinance was repealed last year.
Rex Kenyon said he did not believe there would be a conflict serving the village along with his wife of 33 years. He noted Biedenbach and village councilman James Ullman are brothers-in-law. Prior to that, a mother and daughter-in-law served on council together in the village.
"I don't see it as a conflict," he said. "She has her point of view and I have mine. Sometime we agree and sometimes we disagree. If we disagree, we agree to disagree and move on."
Peggy Byers, director of Washington County Board of Elections, said she didn't know of a reason a husband and wife couldn't serve in such a capacity but said she would have to have the question reviewed by a state's attorney. That question had not been answered by Thursday evening.