Those running for mayor and auditor of the city of Marietta, as well as president of Marietta City Council, faced off in a debate Monday evening at Marietta College's WCMO-TV studio.
During the two-hour debate, the candidates answered questions posed by representatives from local news media outlets about everything from the Armory Square project to government transparency.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Marietta mayoral candidates Joe Matthews, left, and Jon Grimm, right get ready for Monday night’s debate.
Running for Mayor of Marietta are Jon Grimm and Joe Matthews.
Matthews, a Democrat, served three terms as mayor between 1992 and 2004, while Grimm, a Republican, has held the 3rd Ward council seat since he was first elected in 2007.
The candidates were asked what they would do to address residents' concerns regarding the Cytec Industries property in Marietta.
How to watch
(All debates aired on WCMO-TV, channel 15):
7 p.m. Wednesday, Marietta City Council candidates, airs live.
After the Marietta City Council meeting concludes Thursday, Marietta City Council President, Marietta Mayor, Marietta Auditor and Marietta City Council debates that took place Monday will air again.
8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, all debates.
7 p.m., Oct. 27, all debates.
8:30 a.m., Oct. 29 and 30, all debates.
After the Marietta City Council meeting concludes Nov. 3, all debates will air.
8:30 a.m. Nov. 5 and 6, all debates.
8 a.m. and 1 p.m.. Nov. 7, all debates.
8 a.m. and 1 p.m., Nov. 8, all debates.
Specialty chemicals were manufactured for years at the site until the company ceased production there in 1996. Through the years industrial waste chemicals were disposed of in landfills, ponds and other areas on the property and in 1996 the company began initial cleanup of the site that continues today, under supervision of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
"I have already been talking to a lot of citizens here in Marietta about the Cytec project and hopefully if I can get in office I would sit down with all the people concerned and bring Cytec into the picture," Matthews said. "When I was in office before I worked a lot with Cytec and it's...sitting down with the people involved - not just the community here, but also the people with Cytec - and I think there is a lot that can be done, especially when it's concerning people's health."
Grimm said he has already taken actions to address residents' concerns.
"I've already worked on this issue as chairman of planning and zoning," Grimm said. "I led the charge to send a resolution to the Ohio EPA expressing our displeasure at their allowance of a modification to Cytec for their permit.
"I have been active in trying to resolve this," Grimm added. "I will settle for nothing but complete removal of contaminants in that area."
The candidates for mayor were also asked what they think should be done with the Armory.
The nearly $3 million Armory Square renovation project has been years in the making and although some landscaping, parking lot and other exterior upgrades have been completed, major work on the project has yet to begin as the city awaits final funding from the sale of historic preservation tax credits.
"What the Armory will be going out for is informational bids for...construction costs and run parallel with a business plan," Matthews said. "Once the costs and the business plans are parallel, after that, the project can move forward under my administration."
"I've...said there are no general funds or capital improvement funds should be used in the Armory," Matthews added.
Grimm said he has some concerns with the Armory.
"I have spoken with the CVB (Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau), which does have some concerns with the direction things are going - they fear that they might be taking a little bit from their mission if they're put into the role that's being discussed now, and I tend to want to listen to them," Grimm said.
"I've said over and over I think with the Armory we're trying to serve too many masters," Grimm added. "I think what we need to do is define what we want the Armory to be, how it can serve the community and write the business plan to meet that mission. Once we've done that, then we search for the funding to fund it."
Republican Sherri Hess and Dana Singer, an Independent, are the candidates in the Marietta City Auditor race.
Hess is currently the city's deputy auditor. Singer moved to Marietta in December after attending law school in Florida where she studied international law and received a certificate in environmental law.
The candidates were asked how they would ensure the transparency of the office.
Singer said one of the first things she would do is get the city's financial information online in a format that is easy to understand. Specifically, she said she would put together a PowerPoint presentation.
"That way everyone can see exactly what the status of the office is, how things are and from there, figure out what software we need to update the office to keep it in a very clear and understandable format both online and when people come into the office to make sure they can get the information they need," Singer said.
Hess said upgrading can be difficult when there is a lack of funding.
"We do need to upgrade our computer systems...there are a few things that are available online," Hess said. "Our system is older (and) we've been working in the last three or four years at looking at new computer systems so we can be more accessible, but when you have the economy crunch right now that makes it difficult to upgrade a lot of things and I think we do pretty good with what we do have."
They were also asked what they think are the biggest responsibilities of a city auditor and whether they believe affiliation with a political party affects those responsibilities.
"I think one of the biggest responsibilities of the city auditor is maintaining an oversight of the entire city's functions, making sure that all the departments are operating in the most efficient manner possible, making sure we're conducting independent audits to make sure that we're not leaking any money we could be bringing in," Singer said.
Hess said the auditor serves first and foremost as fiscal manager.
"We oversee all the departments, making sure everyone is compliant with Ohio Revised Code - there are rules and laws," Hess said. "As far as being political, no, it's never really been in the office before....there isn't that opportunity, it doesn't matter...it's definitely a non-partisan office."
Singer said she does believe party affiliation plays a role.
"The political partisanship is coming down from Columbus, it is affecting us on a local level," she said. "I see it in the papers and see different responses and that's why I think these days, especially with the current economic crisis we're in, it's that much more important that we don't have those political interplays."
Vying for the Marietta City Council President seat are Democrat Walt Brothers and Republican Josh Schlicher.
Schlicher is a current council-at-large member. Brothers is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and has lived in Marietta since 1994.
The candidates were asked about party politics and whether they interfere with the work of council
"Currently, I don't see a problem with the way we deal with issues on council," Schlicher said. "I work with everyone - both parties - there's no problem with communication (and) the mayor's office is always an open door. I don't have any issues that prevent us from dealing with city business."
Brothers said in the past there has been a "divided council", and he would work to make sure that doesn't happen.
"I think we have to recognize that everyone on the council (and) the people within the government have a vested share in doing the best for everybody," he said. "I want to create an atmosphere as council president so that we can work to achieve (goals)."