Below are the responses to the questionnaire that were delivered about two weeks ago to all the prospective Village Council members. Five candidates took the time to respond: Frances "Angel" Ballard, Jason DeBolt, Scott Garrett, Mary Jo (Jodi) Minotti, and Linda Rininger. Two of the candidate’s names appear on the ballot (Garrett, Minotti) and the others are write-in candidates (Ballard, DeBolt, Rininger). I appreciate them taking the time to think on these things. Their responses are listed in alphabetical order, with the first person to answer rotating with each question.
Angel Ballard: Well I was appointed three years ago. I feel that the people of Windham needed a voice. No one seems to know or care to know what the people of the community think when they make their decisions. I like to think I can be that voice again.
Jason DeBolt: I am running for Village Council because I want to have a helping hand, on the reconstruction of a once proud village. When the residents take back there village I’ll be there.
Scott Garrett: I believe every citizen of Windham Village should serve a term on council. I feel people would receive an education on how local government works and understand some of the pressing issues that face Windham. On a more personal note I am trying my best to make Windham a good place to live and raise a family.
Jodi Minotti: I am running for council because I felt I maybe could make a difference. What most people here are going thru' I have been there done that. I started out really wanting to help change the water/sewer dictation. I think it disgraceful. Working where I do I see first hand what it does to poor people. And no I am not trying to get free water for the riff raff in Windham. I just would like to have it affordable for all. I am a citizen also and I do not like having to pay overcharges. I want to continue this work and feel being on council maybe I can do something. Not just men are created equal to me All PEOPLE are equal.
Linda Rininger: I am running for the Windham Village Council position for the following reasons: 1) I wish to be more involved in the community; 2) I will utilize my Portage County government experience and my belief in the sole interest of the people and community as an asset when representing the residents of Windham.
2. What do you think is the biggest short-term issue for our Village?
Jason DeBolt: I feel that at the present time our biggest short term goal should be the strengthening of our police force. Not enough funds and equipment has lead to a weak police force with increased drugs and crime in our village. I my self have been a victim of Buglery.
Scott Garrett: I am going to respond to question number four at this point as well, for I see the two as one and the same. Windham's largest short-term issue is the pressing need to pass a measure to increase the sales tax from 1 ½% to 2%. The tax increase will generate roughly $100,000 dollars. Windham residents who pay income where they work outside the Village will continue to receive a .5% credit on their taxes. This money is needed to keep the level of services that residents receive at this time. Most of our employees have not received a raise in three years. We have some very hard working, dedicated employees. Having said this, our financial situation puts a lot of pressure on our employees to look for employment in other areas. Our police force is the largest department we have and one that would come under attack if cuts have to be made. As I stated in question number one, a main goal of mine is for Windham to be a good place to raise your family. A strong safety force is a must in order for people to have a sense of security. Please vote yes on the upcoming tax issue.
Jodi Minotti: There is no short term issue in Windham. We have a long hard fight here and must all work togather if we defeat it. It is all the bicking amongst the leaders here.
Linda Rininger: The community needs to aggressively pursue a means to increase the revenue in conjunction with a village income tax increase to ensure the community maintains basic services.
Angel Ballard: There are so many, pay raises for the police department, enough employees at the water/sewer plant, and I think we have had our feel of the G.O.B. club (good ol’ boys) And why did council give themselves a pay increase as of Jan.1 but our employees haven’t had a raise in three years. We lost another police officer and we are not replacing him so where is that money going? This has happened three times now over the last 4 years.
3. What do you think is the biggest long-term issue for our Village?
Scott Garrett: Windham has several long-term issues that are vital to the growth and future of our Village. The infrastructure of our Village will need lots of attention in the future. The Village received some grant money in order to replace the aging water lines running down main street. The village must also take measures that will increase the efficiency with which we collect utility bills. I believe we must seek ways to increase the number of young families moving into Windham and look into extending water and sewer services in an effort to increase our customer base. I am also going to respond to question number six at this time. Bringing in new businesses and industries to our area is a must for the growth of Windham. The Village council is working with Portage County Rural Development in order to plan and develop a positive policy that will bring growth to the Village.
Jodi Minotti: Long term issues is getting the trust and respect of the citizens back for the leaders of this community.
Linda Rininger: The short and long term issues are the same. The Windham Village council must find a solution to increase revenue without forcing all the burdens onto the taxpayers.
Angel Ballard: Water bills when is enough, enough my water bill is higher than my electric. I don’t understand why it is so much here, but not in other small towns. An I don’t care what they do in Garrettsville. Rootstown is complaining about paying $33 dollars every THREE MONTHS, I think we need to find a better solution. People can no longer afford to live here.
Jason DeBolt: Long-term goals would be to increase the community strength by many community projects. (Community watches, met your neighbor day) items of this nature increase your potential for know who and whats going on in your community. With this kind of community and press coverage - Windhams bad word of mouth turns to good word of mouth, then comes the new businesses - increased revenue. More money for village projects. Less asking for tax increase every election and a happier, stronger community.
4. Do you support the Income Tax increase for the Village as proposed to the voters? Please explain your position.
Jodi Minotti: How I vote is my business and no one else's. But i will say this .This community is in deep trouble. It does not matter who put us there or how. Bad choices have been made but it is done so now is the time to take hold and do something positive instead of bicking and complaining. The council's hand are tied on a lot of issues. police have to tend to police business. We just read the facts. We want good police officers we can rely on and trust and respect. And we want them to respect us as citizens. After all we are the ones who pay them.
Linda Rininger: Yes, I support the Village income tax increase. Unfortunately, the cost of services and supplies have increased while the revenues from the government sources have decreased causing a strain on the Village budget. In order to keep the current village services, the income tax must increase.
Angel Ballard: NO! NO! NO! I think the people of the community should not be responsible for bad administration, you made the mistake NO MATTER how many times the public complained it fell on deaf ears until you were in over your head. But the people say no more. Let council give up their pay. Let the mayor give up his pay too. Tighten the belt and learn to live within your means.
Jason DeBolt: Yes, the Tax if for the General fund. I think they can ask the resident for a tax increase only because the cost of running a village has went up.
Scott Garrett: (From his answer to question 2) Windham's largest short-term issue is the pressing need to pass a measure to increase the sales tax from 1 ½% to 2%. The tax increase will generate roughly $100,000 dollars. Windham residents who pay income where they work outside the Village will continue to receive a .5% credit on their taxes. This money is needed to keep the level of services that residents receive at this time. Most of our employees have not received a raise in three years. We have some very hard working, dedicated employees. Having said this, our financial situation puts a lot of pressure on our employees to look for employment in other areas. Our police force is the largest department we have and one that would come under attack if cuts have to be made. As I stated in question number one, a main goal of mine is for Windham to be a good place to raise your family. A strong safety force is a must in order for people to have a sense of security. Please vote yes on the upcoming tax issue.
5. What is your position concerning the Village/Township Joint Fire District proposal and ongoing Operating Agreement discussion?
Linda Rininger: It is my understanding that the Village and Township have always had a fire agreement which means the Village has had representation. The residents of this village have the right to representation regarding any fire levies and the expending of those monies. I believe a Joint Fire District proposal is the correct action to ensure equal representation for the Village and Township. I believe a Joint Fire District is in the best interest of our entire community.
Angel Ballard: Well I’m so tired of this little boy’s pee’n contest between Jim and Howard. For years the fire department was fine until politics got in the way. The township file lawsuits they were not intitled to and made a lot of people mad. But the village cant manage their own money what will happen to the fire department if they have control? My solution is to get new trustees and a new negotiations committee. And start from scratch. But remember its not there for you to make a fortune off the people.
Jason DeBolt: I think every people who puts in a dollar for the fire department should have a say in how and when the funds are spent. Village/Township joint fire district. Yes! I feel this would be better for both parties, no dates exp. members for township and village on a board voting and making decision together.
Scott Garrett: First of all I believe that both Windham Village and Township would benefit from the council and trustees working together. I am in favor of a new operating agreement going into effect with a provision to form a committee to explore the possibilities of a joint fire district.
Jodi Minotti: We need a joint fire district. It is for the good of all. Without Windham Vilage there is no township and without township there is no Windham. This time it is not the village being a stubborn ass but the township. I am for this .
6. How can we attract and keep business in the WIndham area?
Angel Ballard: Why I do know that Mike Dye and Brian Everheart worked for two years to get burger king here. Why don’t we offer tax breaks to new business. Form a committee to work on grants and new business in the village.
Jason DeBolt: By having fire protection for everyone. By cleaning up the image of our village. Also a 5 year front load tax break for new business. Year 1-2 tax break of 40% Year 3-4, 25% and Year 5 15% and finally having enough police protection to make new and present business owners feel safe.
Scott Garrett: (From his answer to question 3) Bringing in new businesses and industries to our area is a must for the growth of Windham. The Village council is working with Portage County Rural Development in order to plan and develop a positive policy that will bring growth to the Village.
Jodi Minotti: Windham has no land to attract business for now. We cannot expand because of the arsenal. But we can stand up and be counted when something goes on here we do not want. Come to all meetings. speak your mind. We need businesses and without them a choice few get rich off you. We need competetion in this town . How to get businesses in here is a problem and a big one for Windham has the bad name. We are in the middle of nowhere. This we have to eliminate. Again working togather.
Linda Rininger: Windham’s location and available workforce are assets which will attract and keep industry and business in our community. I will work closely with the county, state and federal agencies to bring industry and business to our community.
7. What can be done by Village Council concerning the problem of drugs in our community?
Jason DeBolt: Have a new and revised community watch program (like on Nov 3 behind the police station) Bring in outside help - DEA. Also have everyone say "This is my home, it stops now!" and put the man power and time to once and for all clean up our town.
Scott Garrett: I feel that the Village's ability to fight a strong battle against drugs in our community is tied directly to the income tax issue coming on the ballot this November! Council has recently approved the chief of Police's request that we join a Portage County Drug Task Force. This involves several communities that tie their resources together to use an undercover force to seek out and remove drug houses in our community. The Village needs money in order to join positive programs like the county drug task force. The county has a great education program called D.A.R.E. that educates young people in our schools about the dangers of drugs. Both of these programs are needed in order to attack Windham's drug problem.
Jodi Minotti: By doing just what the council has decided to do is a start. If landlords are help accountable then they will hopefully start screening better before renting out to just anyone. This is the first step to maybe clearing out problems. People living on top of each other has always created problems but most towns will not tolerate what Windham has up to now. Clean up is another issue to rid some problem. I have been talking about cleanup of areas that are in disarray to down right shameful.
Linda Rininger: As a council member, I will work closely with our Police Chief and all local law enforcement agencies in an effort to help resolve the drug problem.
Angel Ballard: Well there are a lot of programs out there in talking with the Palmer Drug Abuse Program about maybe coming to our area they work with the kids, school, and parents. It has been very successful in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri. And they will help us get government grants for the programs.
8. What would you like to accomplish most while in office?
Scott Garrett: Before I leave the office of Village Council I would like to see some of the Village's long range goals get off the ground and moving in the right direction.
Jodi Minotti: Getting the administration on the right path. Regain trust and respect for the leaders. Better water rates. Safer place to live for our families. Windham citizens must stop placing blame and take charge to make change. Make Windham a proud place to live. So there you have some of it. I have a need to help . All of you are my neighbors. What affects you affects me also. Good or bad. I want to be a helping hand. Not a hated name on council. People who know me personally know who I am and what I stand for.
Linda Rininger: During my time in office, I would like to accomplish the following: 1) Recruit industry and business to our community; 2) Increase Village revenues and improve local services; 3) Keep Village residents informed and involved in our community.
Angel Ballard: First, I’d like to attack this water bill issue again, there has to be a better way. Find a way to hire more police officers. And look to the community for what they would like to see come the village. I can’t move mountains alone but maybe with a few new council persons we might make a change.
Jason DeBolt: Get rid of the drugs, or at least make a big dent in the problem enough to make the people doing and selling the drugs think twice before coming to Windham anymore.
Rachel Barrett, Roscoe Burkett, and Diane Mealey declined to comment.