Whitehall City Council Jan. 15 selected Wes Kanter as the Ward 2 representative to fill the unexpired term of former councilman Zach Woodruff. The term expires Dec. 31, 2009.
Kanter is 51 and has lived in Whitehall 47 years. Four were spent in military service. He and his wife, Cynthia, have six children, ages ten months to 23 years old.
The salesman graduated from Whitehall Yearling High School, and attended Columbus Technical Institute.
Kantor said that his wife and children encouraged him to apply for the council seat.
"Cynthia is the love of my life, and my driving force. I could do nothing without her. She even picked out my tie for the interview," said the new councilman.
Kanter pointed out that Whitehall is known as the City of Pride, but that has slipped a bit.
He said if more property owners would take better care of their homes and yards, the city could start looking much better.
"Crime really is not that bad here, and most of it is done by outsiders who come into our town. We have easy access from the surrounding major highways," Kanter pointed out. "Also, I try to help my neighbors with snow shoveling, or any way I can. Everyone can do that."
He encourages people to look out for their neighbors. "I am a team player, and will work hard with others to make Whitehall better. I’m a good listener."
He said that he thinks the city is under good leadership with John Wolfe, and shared that the mayor performed the wedding ceremony when he and Cynthia married.
The other two candidates were Heather Eskew and Mike Arends. Eskew is a community volunteer and active with her daughter’s school, Etna Road Elementary. Arends has been a member of the parks commission for many years.
In other business, council tabled an ordinance to allow mayor to enter into a contract with the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Council, as bargaining representative for all regular, full-time police radio dispatchers.
The contract would be in effect for a period of three years from Jan. 1, 2008 – Dec. 31, 2010, was tabled.
On first vote it passed with a 4-1 vote, which meant it was adopted without an emergency clause that would make it effective immediately.
However, Auditor Kim Maggard needs to have it submitted by Jan. 31 to avoid paying fines to the Public Employees Retirement System, which as she explained, would cost the city a lot of money.
Councilwoman Jackie Thompson was the negative vote. Councilman Jim Graham was absent, and there was not yet a voting member for Ward 2.
Council then entertained a motion to reconsider, and another to table it until a special meeting Jan. 22 prior to committee meetings.
"I voted no on the contract tonight because of the pay raise scale that has the highest pay grade at 5.5 percent a year for three years," Thompson explained after the meeting. "I do not buy into the theory that we have to have parity in salaries with the other central Ohio cities. We do not have the tax base to compete with Bexley, Upper Arlington, Worthington, etc. I also feel that it should not be just the taxpayers who make sacrifices."
"It’s time we rein in the money spent on salaries. I’m all for a freeze on increases for non-union employees," added Thompson.
Wolfe stated that if it didn’t pass at that special meeting, he would insist on a second special meeting immediately following it to try again, because of the urgency and importance of the issue.
In other news:
•Council approved a special permit to allow Elite Car Audio & Electronics to move to 4423 E. Main Street. New owners Jack and Nick Brown presented their case during a public hearing, and had previously received a unanimous approval vote by the Planning Commission The store will be in the front of the commercial space, with installations in the back. Nick Brown assured council that they do not work on vehicles outside, and that they control the noise factor. When checking an alarm, it is muffled. Jack Brown also owns Just Floors, and has been a well-established business owner in the city for many years.
•Council approved Mayor Wolfe to apply for a grant with the Ohio Natural Resources to acquire 2008 Scrap Tire Grant Funds. About 8,000 recycled tires will be mixed into concrete for a resurfacing project this year on Etna Road between Hamilton and Country Club.
The next council meeting will be Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. beginning with a special meeting followed by the regularly scheduled committee meetings.