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For Marietta, Nov. 5 will be a defining day

It isn’t often that so many key electoral circumstances align on a single ballot. Two weeks from now, I believe voters in the City of Marietta and surrounding will author the decisions that define our community for the next 30 years.

Consider what is being asked of voters this go round: Marietta City Schools Levy, Marietta City Mayoral Election, Washington County Commissioner Primary.

I am sure many of you have sought to educate yourselves regarding the pros and cons of levy passage and what it means for you in the near term and for our community’s reputation and economic standing in the long term. Should the levy pass we will usher in a new age in education in the county, celebrate new construction, make good on the efforts of state legislators who have shot us to the front of the line in hopes of passage, and model the actions of growth minded communities across the state. Should it fail, I hope we are prepared to live in the reality of a continual cycle of improvement levies and school closure conversations that will assuredly mark the next decade.

Have we considered that failure to pass the levy will likely cost each of us more money in trying to keep what we already have afloat? Our obstinance will ultimately force sizable maintenance cost programming and ensure that when we do realize we have no other option, any future construct will have less state support and could be 40% more expensive to pursue. What will our capacity for payment be at that point? The deal we have been given now appears to be as good as we will receive from the state and our failure to realize and capitalize will likely enhance burden moving forward. This is quickly becoming a legacy in communities within Southeast Ohio, much to my dismay.

Each citizen needs to consider the cost both financially near and far, and maybe also our community’s reputation regionally and statewide that is being written.

Speaking of reputation, did you know the mayorship of Marietta is one of the most dignified posts in Southeast Ohio? How many cities of 10,000 plus are there in our five-county set? Two… Athens and Marietta. Along with Athens Mayor Steve Patterson, the Marietta mayor position is looked to for leadership and visioning for our entire region. Do you consider that when you step into the voting booth? Who do the mayors in the Southeastern Ohio contingent look to for guidance on how to lead their communities and stand up programs? Us, that’s who. Like it or not we have a responsibility to lead our region, and through the mayoral post we have an opportunity to be the beacon city that other communities expect us to be. I would encourage you to ask our current mayor and the candidates how they intend to model that leadership and elevate the esteem our fair city already has? I too am curious.

Lastly, one of the obstacles no one seems to be willing to discuss has to the do with the frayed relationship between our city and county governments. You all read about the lawsuits, and many are anxious for resolution and amicable resolution. Is the ability to broker productive relationships that promote partnership and sharing of resources as well as financial burden on major projects something you value as a voter? Have you sought to learn how candidates for the county posts aim to build a spirit of collaboration?

We live in the reality that we created for ourselves through previous decisions. I work in a post that was built through 15 years of community decisions, and people tell me all the time my job seems impossible. We haven’t done ourselves many favors. I desperately want the next person to inhabit my chair to see the favor we did them. It is a critical election here in two weeks and with your remaining time I hope you will do your homework and show up enthusiastically to make your voice heard and shape the trajectory of the city’s near term and long term.

Andy Kuhn

Executive Director, Southeastern Ohio Port Authority