Voter’s Guide

The Westside Messenger sent a questionnaire to candidates running for local office in contested races in the Nov. 2 election. The following are their responses:

Prairie Township Trustee

(two to be elected)

  • James Beardsley, 6700 Alkire Road, Galloway

Occupation: Disabled veteran

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Franklin Heights High School, served in the U.S. Army, disabled veteran because of injury received during my service.

Goals if elected?  Stand up against big solar. I believe in term limits. Prairie Township trustee will be my full-time job.

  • Steve Kennedy, 6621 W. Broad St., Galloway

Occupation: Self-employed and current trustee

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Prairie Township Trustee 2006-2021, Franklin County Township Association President 2013-2016, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission current board member, executive board member of  Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the current chairman of the Prairie Township Community Improvement Corporation.

Goals if elected?  Prairie Township and the City of Columbus have been working on conforming our boundaries. Part of this agreement is providing water and sewer to the eastern part of the township at the Columbus suburban rate. I believe I’m the best candidate to finalize these negotiations.

  • Rod Pritchard, 955 Murnan Road, Galloway

Occupation: Retired/Investor

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Graduate of Westland HS; BA in Political Science from Winona SU; Retired, City of Columbus. Co-owner, Iacovetta Properties. Treasurer, OSBA. Prior memberships: HSA; Customer Advisory Panel for AEP/Ohio; Catholic Retirement Communities; Bishop Ready board; BZA for Prairie Township; Franklin County Housing Task Force; Victorian Village Commission, VP, AFSCME Local 1632.

Goals if elected? Prairie Township continues to face the issue of increasing costs for water. Years of talk about this issue has resulted no relief for area residents. This will be goal one. Additionally, the creation of a housing maintenance code to inform residents of what the Township’s expectations are must be accomplished.

  • Cathy Schmelzer, 930 Murnan Road, Galloway

Occupation: Business Owner of Carriage House of Flowers (25 yrs)

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Prairie Township Trustee 2017 -2021, Executive Board member of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, Graduate of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department Citizens Academy.

Goals if elected?  I would like to focus on updating the township plans and policies to proactively shape where and how the community can grow. We need a strategic plan to grow with greater infill and redevelopment. Identify ways the community can evolve. What does Prairie Township need? What are the goals of Prairie Township? What does the resident’s what to see for our future growth? My goal is to always involve the residents. Provide greater efficiency and improve the quality of services to benefit all residents.


Franklin Township Trustee

(two to be elected)

  • Don Cook, 3209 Clime Road, Columbus

Occupation: No response

Education/military/ and/or political experience: West High 1955, division of education fire fighting, private police training CTI, Ohio Township Association classes, township trustee 12 years 2006-2017, owned a custom cabinet shop 40 years, past member Hilltop Business Association, Ohio Township Association, F&AM #493, and Scottish Rite.

Goals if elected?  My goal is lower taxes and put the fire truck in service that they took out. You are paying the highest taxes in our history. We need to work within our budget and get a JEDD. In 2017 I had a JEDD ready.

  • John Fleshman, 3471 Lowell Drive, Columbus

Occupation: Photographer, FleshmanPhoto.Com /Franklin Township Trustee

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Ohio State University. Owner and CEO of FleshmanPhoto.Com for the past 30 years in Franklin Township. Served two consecutive terms as Franklin Township Trustee. Served as chairman and vice chairman

Goals if elected?  We have been working on the Westland Mall site for the past 8 years. You’re now seeing new businesses coming back to this corridor of West Broad Street Sheetz, La Plaza Tapatia, 4×4 Wheel Parts, JED coming soon.

  • Jim Leezer – no response received

South-Western City Schools Board of Education

(Three seats up for election)

  • Chris Boso – No response received
  • David Donofrio, 4699 Snowy Meadow Dr., Grove City

Occupation: Office of the Fire Department for Prairie Township

Education/military/ and/or political experience: I am a lifelong resident of central Ohio, and product of its public schools. BA from Wittenberg University. I’ve served on the Board of Education the past four years. I currently work for our fire department, but have wide-ranging experience in the private sector, particularly in career development/job creation.

Goals if elected? I put students first, always. This nonpartisan role is about what’s right for kids, not political ideologies. I am fiscally responsible, and a proactive communicator, keeping you informed. I fight for district health, equity, safety and unity – giving every child equal access to the American Dream. Learn more:

  • Cathy Johnson, 7475 Opossum Run Road, London

Occupation: Retired classroom teacher

Education/military/ and/or political experience: BS & MA in Education, OSU. Reading Recovery, OSU. OSBA Master Board Member. Member of All-Ohio School Board. Twenty-year member of the South-Western City Schools Board of Education.

Goals if elected? Increased student achievement. Complete the second phase of Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project by opening four new middle schools in 2022. Work with E&A Coalition’s lawsuit against vouchers. Continue to work with the SBC Foundation to support student athletes. Work with other elected officials to improve public education.

  • Kelli Martindale – No response received
  • Jamie Shumaker, 6006 Cork County Drive, Galloway

Occupation: Union president, Columbus Public Health

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Associates degree from Owens C.C. in dietetics, 19 years at Columbus Public Health, 3 years as a band booster parent, AFSCME 2191 president; Treasurer Area Federation of Labor

Goals if elected? Our district is growing rapidly. I want to ensure that growth is felt equitably across our district. As a parent, communication from the district is key to me, and I hope to hold regular community meetings and engage with parents.


Columbus City Schools Board of Education

(Three seats up for election)

  • Mohamed Ali – No response received
  • Michael Cole, 6088 Whitman Road, Columbus

Occupation: Education administrator

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Bachelor’s degree: The Ohio State University/International studies, Masters: Seton Hall University/Master of arts in strategic communications and leadership, former area commission of Greater Hilltop, former executive director of J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center.

Goals if elected? I will continue my servant leadership endeavors to strengthen accountability, curriculum, transparency and safety for students and staff in CCS.

  • Kevin S. Hairston, 754 N. 6th Street, Columbus

Occupation: Clergy, Living Word Bible Fellowship

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Dr. Kevin Hairston is the Pastor of Living Word Bible Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, graduating from Independence High School. Received a degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University. Attended Trinity Lutheran Seminary obtaining a master’s degree in theological studies. Received his Doctorate in Ministry from United Theological Seminary.

Goals if elected? Providing the services that children and youth need to help them better manage and support their mental health needs at school can be quite challenging. If the appropriate services are put in to support a young person’s mental health needs, we can maximize success and minimize negative impacts for students.

  • James Ragland – No response received
  • Ramona Reyes – No response received
  • Christina Vera – No response received


Columbus City Council

(three to be elected)

  • Nick Bankston – No response received
  • Lourdes Barroso de Padilla – No response received
  • Sheila Ann Eubanks, 1696 Burley Drive, Columbus

Occupation: Field Specialist Sedgwick Claim Management Service

Education/military/ and/or political experience: Lifelong resident-Columbus Ohio. Attended Columbus City School, Ohio State and Columbus State. I work for Sedgwick CMS. I have 36 years’ experience in Insurance. I am currently Chairwomen of the Trustees -Marion Franklin Civic Association and Director at Genesis of Good Samaritan. I work hard to serve the Southfield Community.

Goals if elected?  I stand on communities and the forgotten people. I want to bring the communities to the table. Often communities are left behind. It is all about big money in Columbus. I want to make sure that our communities are being heard and the concerns are being addressed.

  • Shannon Hardin – No response received
  • Tom Sussi, 234 Neruda Ave., Columbus

Occupation: Self-employed (

Education/military/ and/or political experience: I have worked professionally in newspaper, radio and television for more four decades, about 30 years in TV news as an Emmy-Award winning Investigative Reporter. I currently produce, I have degrees from Michigan State University (Journalism) and Mott Community College (Criminal Justice).

Goals if elected?  It’s insane that for two decades one party has called the shots in Columbus. There must be a dissenting voice at City Hall to challenge the politicians who tow the party line. There must be a watchdog to check the backdoor politics and represent the best interests of the people.

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