Candidates speak out on village’s most pressing issues –
By Patricia Beech –
Voters in the village of Peebles will weigh in at the ballot this November to choose among several candidates vying for seats on village council. As the most local level of government, village councils play an important role in promoting their towns, representing their community’s interests, and supporting the work of different groups in their community. Council members are responsible for providing representation, legislation, and oversight in the villages they serve.
Charles R. Countryman, Kevin W. Cross, Amanda Gaffin, and Sheila Browning will share the ballot with incumbents Larry Shiveley, Jeannie Gordley, and Wayne Setty. Voters should vote for no more than four candidates.
Shiveley, who has served six years on the village council, is a retired teacher and school principal, the President of the Peebles Area Business Association, and the owner of the Peebles Flower and Antique Shop. He says he feels an obligation to give back to the community and the people.
“I am running for Council because this is my town, Peebles is a great place to live, and I want it to be the best it can be for all our citizens, and my family as well.”
He says the town’s greatest resource is it’s people.
“We have wonderful people in this village,” he says. “Collectively, we have the ability to overcome obstacles and do great things for our town, despite our greatest challenge, which is lack of funds needed to offer the services our people deserve.”
Shiveley says he believes the council has been successful in providing the village police and fire protection, sewage and water, and street maintenance on a very limited budget, but he isn’t interested in sitting on his laurels. He hopes eventually to see the town grow.
“We have not done well attracting new businesses to our town because we are landlocked due to property owners who do not wish to sell, therefore, expansion is a problem, but we need to continue working to expand our village limits thus opening up more land for future business growth and increasing the tax base for the village.”
Candidate Sheila Browning served as the village’s fiscal officer for 20 years. She says the experience prepared her to run for a council seat: “As fiscal officer I attended all the council meetings and prepared the meeting minutes, so I have an understanding of the policies that are in place.”
She says she believes it’s important for council members to be thorough in their decision making
“Many items that come before the council should be discussed prior to meetings and tabled and discussed for clarification prior to any vote,” she says. “There are always other options available, but they might not be the popular way to go, but making Peebles a good place to live often means you have to have the strength to say no.”
Peebles’ greatest opportunity, according to Browning, is its residents and their dreams of living in a better-than-average community, but it’s greatest challenge, she says, is lack of funding for needed improvement.
“Everyone must learn to live on a budget, but emergencies happen constantly and have to be dealt with,” says Browning. “Our county is now faced with the loss of power plants which means loss of jobs for our residents and loss of tax dollars for the county and our schools – this is a problem we will have to deal with for years to come.”
While she gives the village council members high marks for their work, she says she would like to see the town’s governing body be more innovative.
“Our village council has done well in the past, but the past is not what we are looking for in this election,” she says. “Lack of funding and increased prices on everything we buy has hindered our current council, we need new people with new ideas who see new ways of getting the job done. I’m running for council because I think I can bring newer and better ways of getting the job done, and getting more involvement from the community.”
Candidate Wayne Setty has served eight years on the village council and is currently council president. He says he is running for re-election because he likes to help people.
“I am a concerned citizen, and as a councilman I am available 24/7 – any time anyone wants to call, I’m always here to answer,” says Setty. “I consider myself a full-time council member.”
Setty believes the town’s greatest opportunity is expansion.
“I’d like to see our corporation limit extended,” he says. “I’d like to see businesses and more restaurants along the 32 corridor – we’ve tried several times to annex that area, but so far we haven’t been successful.”
He says the town’s greatest challenges are dealing with the local drug problem and keeping up the town’s appearance.
“We’re in the process of getting a Task Force of some kind that will help us do something about the drug problem,” he says. “Cleaning up the town – it’s a long process, but we stay with it, I’m not going to quit on that.”
Eugenia (Jeannie) M. Gordley has served on the council for 12 years. She says her experience serving on the council has prepared her to deal with the town’s problems.
“I know how to work with other council members to accomplish our goals,” says Gordley. “We can’t always do everything we want because of lack of funds, but I do think Peebles is fortunate because we have dedicated village employees – the police, the sewage and water department, the fire department, and the street department are all committed to making the town the best place it can be.”
Gordley, who has worked 30 years in the local library, says the village’s most pressing opportunity is maintaining the town’s appearance.
“We do try to stay on top of that, but it’s not as easy as you think,” she says. “But it’s important to take an interest in our town, and we do get a lot of good feedback from the public.”
Like her fellow council members, she believes the town’s greatest challenge is expanding its corporation limit.
“I think it would be great if we could get that done, it would certainly bring more money into the town.”
Candidate Amanda Gaffin is a bus driver for the Adams County School District and the co-owner of Ohio Valley Drywall. She says she is running for council because she loves her town and her community.
“I am very outspoken concerning things that I am for or against, and I’m not afraid to step on toes, so I think I would be a good voice for our community.”
She says she would like to explore ways to unite the community.
“Getting different age groups involved in the community and cleaning up the town so that it is a safe and clean environment are two of our greatest challenges,” she says. “I fall in the middle-age group which, I think, allows me to have an understanding of the expectations and needs of the older generation and the younger generation.”
She says she would like to see the public be more involved in governing the town.
“I would work on making the people aware of the meetings and encourage them to participate and be more involved in ideas and decisions about our community,” she says. “I don’t think people understand the good that would come from being involved or what a difference their opinions can make.”
Candidate Charles R. Countryman is a 50-year resident of Peebles. He says he would like to do what he can to make Peebles a better place.
“I think when you raise five boys, and help raise nine grandkids and one great-grandchild, you have a vested interest in making your town a better place,” says Countryman. “I’ve been going to council meetings for the past year, and I would like to have a voice in the decision-making.”
Countryman says public involvement would have a positive impact on the town.
“I think people like me who go to the council meetings contribute to by adding our voices, even if we aren’t responsible for making the decision, I think we’ve had some influence. If I’m elected I’ll use my voice and try to make Peebles a better place, and I would encourage the people to come out and participate in their local government.”