MOUNT VERNON — Thursday evening, the Republican Central Committee named Tanner Salyers to fill the unexpired term of At-large Councilman Chris Menapace. Menapace resigned on Oct. 1 because he moved to Coshocton County.
A native of Franklin Furnace, Salyers received his undergraduate degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He received a master's degree in public administration from Kent State University, which he said uniquely qualifies him for a position on city council.
Franklin Furnace was home to several chemical and power plants.
“This informed a lot of my political philosophy and my government philosophy,” he told committee members.
He said that he saw firsthand how unqualified trustees and very desperate commissioners immediately offered tax abatements to those chemical and power plants, actions that ultimately broke the township.
“There was no money to pave roads, for cemeteries, schools completely suffered, sometimes operating in the red, buildings fell apart, and it wiped out a lot of the land that was available to the township,” he said.
Because of that, he learned three important things:
- Corporate interests will take advantage of inept governments and uninformed citizens.
- Fiscal responsibility is paramount for a government, and fiscal integrity must be preserved.
- Government must be comprised of capable individuals who are willing to do the work, learn the information, and be proactive on behalf of their constituents.
“Just being a 'good ole' boy' won't cut it these days,” he said.
Of his priorities for Mount Vernon, Salyers said, “The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission says we can expect roughly as many as 15,000 people in the next 30 years. That's essentially another Mount Vernon. We need to be ready for them.
“One way is to improve infrastructure,” he continued. “That includes the stormwater utility issue, rezoning to have plenty of housing inventory, and working on our road system to improve traffic flow through our community.”
Salyers listed several other priorities:
- Economic diversity with business incubators, working with the Area Development Foundation to make sure Siemens and Shellmar sites are filled with businesses not only hiring but hiring jobs for the future
- Workforce development, including training and educational opportunities for citizens to get them ready for jobs in the future so that when new technology comes, people are ready and not displaced
- Recovery initiatives, including recovery housing plans
- Community reinvestment areas for distressed properties in the west-end enterprise zone to improve property values and avoid nuisance property fines
- Slow the brain drain, working with student groups to connect them with Mount Vernon and make them “feel like they have a place at the table”
Salyers said he looks forward to being a proactive member of council, not just a “warm seat.”
“These extra months will give me a head start to make a positive impact,” he said.
Salyers will fill the unexpired term ending Dec. 31. He is one of three candidates running in the November General Election for the three at-large council seats.
Menapace resigned effective Oct. 1. Under Ohio statute, the Republican Central Committee must wait at least five days before naming a replacement. The next city council meeting is Monday.