HINCKLEY TWP. — Two Hinckley township trustees are running for re-election next week, facing challenges from a retired Hinckley fire chief and a college student.
Incumbents Dave Sambor and Raymond Schulte point to the township’s strong economic record and no debt as proof they’re prepared to continue serving.
But Bill Horton, who served as Hinckley’s fire chief for eight years, and Lucas May, an outspoken anti-fracking activist, say they want to bring new faces to local leadership.
Schulte has served on the board of trustees since 2005 and served as president of the Medina Township Association from 2010 to 2012. He said his relationships with other community leaders has served the township well.
“It gives you an opportunity to network with people who have additional information,” he said. “It helps build collaboration and develop relationships with people around the county.”
Schulte said he is proud of the way the township has spent money, paying only cash for major purchases like the land on which the Service Department was built.
“We don’t carry any debt, or pay interest,” he said. “That’s a huge accomplishment.”
Looking ahead, Schulte said the township has to engage the public in forming a master plan for the future of the township.
“We’re going to be looking for public opinion on what they want Hinckley to be, and what they’d like in the building of a new Fire Department,” he said.
Sambor is finishing his first term as trustee after being elected in 2009.
Like Schulte, he pointed to the township’s strong fiscal record, including keeping Service Department vehicles and rescue squads up to date. He also touted the importance of remaining “debt free.”
“We’re in better shape than a lot of townships,” he said. “When we need to make a major investment long term, we do, and we stay in a good position financially.”
Sambor said he’s pleased that the township has kept up with maintaining and enhancing local parks and thinks the biggest challenge in the coming years will be to continue to manage the township’s finances.
“I think a lot of townships are going to struggle, but I think we’re in a good spot,” he said.
Horton served on the Hinckley Township Fire Department for 24 years, including eight years as chief.
Horton was removed as chief, but regained the job after suing the trustees in 2006.
Schulte, who was one of the trustees named in the suit, acknowledged reinstating Horton was correct.
“We got some advice about making a change in a leadership role and our advice was not as accurate as we thought,” Schulte said.
Both men said the suit is water under the bridge and they could work together again if they’re both elected to the board.
“They were in the wrong, they realized they were in the wrong, and they backed off,” the former chief said. “So I wouldn’t have a problem working with anyone. We all need to work together.”
Horton said he always ran his Fire Department under budget, and if elected, would “maintain the budget and control the spending.”
“There’s money there now, but we have to make sure we maintain a balanced budget so we don’t have to go to the people asking for money,” he said. “That’s a big issue for me, making sure we don’t have to have a levy.”
Horton said he misses public service and wants to get back to working with the community.
“We need to plan for what the people want,” he said. “As a public servant, I’ll communicate with people.”
At 19, May is one of the youngest candidates on Tuesday’s ballot.
A political science student at Cuyahoga Community College, May said he spent last summer working to put an end to hydraulic fracturing with Ohio Citizen Action. The experience inspired him to run for a local political office.
“It made me want to bring it home and I saw this as an opportunity to do something in my community,” he said.
May said he’s especially concerned about protecting Hinckley’s parks from being leased to oil companies who might have an interest in hydraulic fracturing or other uses that could contaminate local water and resources.
“A lot of people are concerned about it but don’t think it’s something that’s coming to them,” he said. “When I talk to people, they’re very interested in protecting our properties.”
May said he’s had many friends support his candidacy and have helped him with his door-to-door campaign.
“Going out and going door to door, people are excited to see a young person involved in the political process,” he said. “We saw it as the beginning of our generation stepping up to the plate.”
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.