Candidates make pitch for Hilltop commission seats

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Candidates running for the Greater Hilltop Area Commission made their case as to why they should be new commissioners. At the monthly commission meeting, all the candidates for the 2019 election presented their plans to the community and explained why they are the best candidate for the job.

The commission has five seats open for the June 29 election. Four of the seats will be elected and one will be appointed by the commission.

Candidates for the election include Patrick Sean Barnacle, Daniel Fagan, William M. Huffman, C. Shawn Maddox, Rachel Wenning and James M. White. Three of the candidates currently hold seats on the commission while three of the candidates are relatively new to the region and are looking to make a positive impact on the community.

Among the issues all candidates hit on was preparing the community for the recent development that has come to the region, eliminating vacant homes and blighted property, reducing criminal activity in the area and ensuring the community stays true to its roots.

“Polling locations for the election will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 29 and there will be several polling locations throughout the community,” said Jay McCallister, Greater Hilltop Area Commission chairman. “Voting locations will be at the Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner, Columbus Metropolitan Library Hilltop Branch and Columbus Fire Station 17.”

McCallister added that any ballot that has a write-in candidate added to it or more than four people are selected will be thrown out and not counted.

“Candidates also cannot campaign next to a polling station and must be 100 feet away to campaign,” McCallister said. “We have had a problem with that in the past, so we want to make sure we are clear about that.”

Because there are six candidates running and four elected and one appointed seat open, a candidate not selected as a commissioner is eligible to be appointed to the commission as well. Those elected and appointed will serve three-year terms starting Sept. 1, 2019 and ending Aug. 31, 2022.

Candidates also are invited to submit brief bios on the Greater Hilltop Area Commission website so residents can learn a little more about the candidates.

Nuisance Properties

Issues with nuisance properties and crime in the region continued to dominate the conversation.

According to Columbus Assistant City Attorney Zach Gwin, the city is continuing to focus on vacant and abandoned properties in the region in an effort to clean up the Hilltop.

“We rate these houses good, fair and poor and right now we are focusing on all houses rated poor,” Gwin said. “We also recently did a walk-through of the neighborhood and identified vacant, blighted, and nuisance properties, as well as alleys that have illegal dumping and properties that have drug activity. We have sent those houses and alleys to the appropriate departments and will be addressing them as well.”

Gwin encouraged residents to continue to report these properties in an effort to clean up the community.

Community Resource Website

Eric Skidmore of FUEL Franklinton discussed a new website coming out that will provide residents with resources for the region.

Using Franklinton.org as an example, the new website will offer residents an easy way to access resources and contacts for the area.

“The new website will be www.hilltop.usa.org and will be a directory of resources for the area,” Skidmore said. “From education to housing to health and social services, it will be an easy way for residents to find everything they need about the resources available in the region.”

Skidmore hopes to launch the website this summer and encourages residents to let him know what resources they want to see on the new site.

For more information on events happening in the Hilltop, visit theghac.org.

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