Ken Markward
Ken Markward

VAN WERT – The Heartland Patriots held a meet the candidates night on Tuesday where Republican mayoral candidates Ken Markward and Jerry Mazur, who is the current Van Wert City Mayor, introduced themselves to those in attendance and answered questions from the audience.

Markward spoke first during the evening and discussed his background. Markward is currently on City Council representing the third ward; he is in his fourth year as Councilman.

Markward spent over 30 years in public schools as a teacher and an administrator. He also spent 20 years on the Van Wert City School Board and seven years on the Vantage Board of Education.

“I worked with a wide variety of people, some that were maybe a little bit harder to get along with than others, but you just had to deal with it,” said Markward. “I’ve had to work with a lot of different people on a lot of different projects.”

Markward said his background affects how he approaches things and that he has more of an analytical personality.

“Very rarely is there going to be a solution that is going to make everyone happy,” said Markward. “But one of the things I do think I’m good at, maybe better than some, is asking questions and wondering about the ‘what ifs.’”

He said he is open to many different viewpoints that can come together to improve ideas.

“I try to maintain the attitude that, if you think you’ve got all the answers, then maybe you haven’t asked all the questions yet,” said Markward.

If elected mayor, Markward said he would like to concentrate on fixing ordinances.

“I think we have some of the boring things that need to be done,” said Markward. “One of the reasons we looked at the building permit issue is because we had two different sections of our ordinances that were in conflict.”

Markward also said he would be looking toward the 2020 Federal Census, which only happens every 10 years.

“After each one, the City is supposed to look and see whether the ward boundaries need redraw; sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” said Markward. “If you start getting things out of balance then people start feeling like they aren’t represented. It creates a negative feeling and that negative tone gets spread throughout the City.”

Markward said he wants to make Van Wert a place people are proud to live in by increasing the positive tone surrounding the city.

During his portion of meet the candidates night, Mazur spoke about economic development and the projects he has been involved with since he became mayor in 2016.

Mazur said when he first started, Jobs Ohio would not come to Van Wert because the Economic Development organization was two separate entities – one for the city and one for the county. Since helping to combine Economic Development into both a city and county organization, the relationship with Jobs Ohio has been mended.

“Over the last two years our income taxes have increased, and that increase represents about 100 full-time jobs,” said Mazur. “We see growth in jobs; we see growth in our income tax receipts. However, we are still not able to afford all the amenities and services that we are responsible for out of our general fund.”

Mazur said that certain items that would typically come out of the general fund come out of the .22 tax that was put in place for capital improvements for the police and fire department. He hopes that when the time comes that Van Wert sees more economic development, that the city can support all of the services just out of the general fund.

Mazur spoke about the Revolving Loan Fund that, when used, improves businesses and generates interest, and he also spoke about the Land Bank, which has helped tear down blighted properties.

If reelected, Mazur said he would like to continue to concentrate on economic development and would also like to focus on code enforcement.

“My plan is to continue what I started,” said Mazur. “I think we had a good start in economic development; we’ve seen some improvements there.”

“I would like to do a complete review of our building code section; building code being code enforcement,” added Mazur. “We have a lot of danglers out there, loose ends, and as you can tell, some of the areas in town are not being addressed in a way that is going to create a better appearance around town.”

Mazur said that he would like to get a full-time code enforcer in the next few years to take care of those issues.

Markward and Mazur also answered questions regarding charter cities, the building permit ordinance, the drug issue, which Mazur noted the Van Wert Police and Van Wert Sheriff’s Office are constantly working hard on, as well as topics such as jobs, railroads, and housing.

Early voting has already started. The May primary/special election will be held on May 7; both Markward and Mazur will be on the ballot for the Republican candidate for Van Wert City Mayor.