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ST. MARYS — The race for the three St. Marys City Council-at-Large seats has a field of former and current officeholders as well as a newcomer.
Incumbents Ron Ginter, 813 Lake Ave., and Jim Harris, 413 Concord Ave., are seeking re-election as Kristine Collins, 216 Walnut St., and Lyndella Andrews, 702 Columbia St., are seeking to regain a spot on city council. Joining the four is political newcomer Bob Fitzgerald, 1713 Fenway Court, who brings the slate of candidates to five.
Ginter, 81, a nonpartisan candidate, has served on council for the past 18 years. The political veteran said he would like to continue to serve the people of St. Marys and build on what he has done the past two decades.
“I think St. Marys is really going in the right direction,” Ginter said. “I want to keep it that way.”
Ginter said being on council requires someone who can think on his or her feet. The position, he noted, also involves communicating with the public.
“You have to be able to deal with people,” Ginter said. “Every place you go, you will run into someone and they might want to talk. I am very visible and if they have a question, I don’t tell them I am not working.”
Harris, 58, a Republican, has served on council for 12 years. If elected, Harris said he would like to continue the progress the city has made in recent years.
“The city of St. Marys has accomplished a lot of things in the last few years and we are on our way to accomplish a lot more,” Harris said. “I am working with a great crew on city council, we get a lot of things done and that’s why I want to do it.”
Another area Harris identified was the growth the city has seen. In the past few months, a handful of restaurants and retail shops have opened in the city — something Harris touted as progress amid the recession.
“St. Marys has weathered the recession a lot better than most communities,” Harris said. “And I think we are going to be able to seize opportunities as they appear.”
Harris also said he would continue to vote in the best interest of the city if re-elected.
Collins, 64, a nonpartisan candidate, served for eight years as a city councilor in the 1980s and 1990s. After two decades away from the political ring, Collins said she decided to toss her hat into the election.
“I am retired now and I decided I needed to get involved with the community again,” Collins said. “I was on council for eight years, it’s something I understand and I thought it would be a good way to get involved in the community.”
Collins said if she is elected, she would work with the downtown building owners to help bring businesses to that area of the city.
“I would like to work with the downtown people to really do something with the abandoned buildings,” Collins said. “The shops that are there now are really good and are bringing people in, we just need more of that.”
Colllins also noted she would target new industries if elected.
“The restaurants and Kohl’s are wonderful, but now we have to look at industries to come in to bring some new people into the city,” Collins said. “And for them to give people who don’t have good-paying jobs a job.”
Andrews, 64, a Republican, served on council for 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s. During her time on council, she also served as council president.
“I would like to be back on there,” Andrews said. “I miss it and I really enjoyed it. I really worked hard and took care of a lot of things.”
While on council, Andrews said she worked on a number of projects, including work on the Miami and Erie Canal, parking downtown and the solid waste department. If elected on Tuesday, Andrews said she would make communication one of her main priorities.
“I really do not believe we need to have emergency legislation all the time,” Andrews said, noting she preferred legislation be read multiple times before being passed. “If it’s a true emergency, it’s one thing. To have it continuously is just wrong.”
Andrews encouraged voters to cast ballots for her because she is hard working and honest.
Fitzgerald, 46, a Republican, is a newcomer to public office. If elected, Fitzgerald said he would like to continue to improve the city’s assets.
“I am looking to maybe strengthen the development of the city’s parks,” Fitzgerald said. “I also want to help maintain communication among the community and city council. I want to open those gates to make sure people are kept informed if they want to be. I also want to help develop a long-range plan for the city of St. Marys.”
Fitzgerald encouraged residents to vote for him because he is a “common sense individual who is looking to keep St. Marys rolling.”