GREENVILLE — Three Treaty City residents are hoping to add new faces, and fresh ideas, to Greenville City Council come January.
Jeff Whitaker, Sue House and Doug Wright have declared their candidacy for three at-large council seats to be contested in November’s general election.
They join two current council members — Doug Schmidt and Tracy Tryon — who are seeking reelection. The third at-large incumbent, councilman Todd Oliver, did not file to run for reelection.
In the May 2 primary, registered Republican voters will choose three from the slate of four GOP candidates — Wright, Whitaker, Tryon, and Schmidt — to run in the November 7 general election. Sue House, as the only Democrat running, is already on the November ballot. The top three vote-getters will take office in January.
Wright, Whitaker, and House all met with The Daily Advocate to share their backgrounds, their reasons for running, and their thoughts on what they’d like to accomplish as members of council.
Sue House is a 34-year resident of Greenville. The current impasse involving the City of Greenville, Darke County, and Erwin Bros. Trucking over that company’s yet-to-open fuel center at the county’s South Industrial Park is one motivator in her decision to run for council.
“There’s enough blame to go around with all three parties, but now it’s at the point where someone needs to step up to the plate and get this going,” she said. “It’s an embarrassment to the city, it makes us look un-businessfriendly, and that’s not a good reputation to have.”
It isn’t completely accurate to call House a “new face” on council, as she previously served one term on Greenville City Council, from 1998 to 2001. Her other experience includes more than nine years as a business analyst, and more than 26 years working at Wayne HealthCare in the Information Systems Department. She has also served on the Organization Committee of Downtown Greenville, Inc., the Greenville Public Access Board, and has volunteered with the Darke County Animal Shelter.
Her stated goals as a councilwoman include having the city live within its budget; the continuation/growth of Greenville’s Public Access TV; to keep the city’s public transit fully functional and funded; to have a five-year planning session to set goals for the city; to improve communication between the citizens and the city council; and to continue the teamwork between city council, administration, and city employees.
House is retired, which she says will be a benefit if elected to council.
“That will give me more time to be out and about, be involved,” she said.
Jeff Whitaker works as an inventory analyst at KitchenAid. He’s lived in Greenville for three years, residing in Florida before that.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Whitaker worked for 16 years in the treasurer’s office of St. Clair County, Illinois. He has a degree in Political Science and Government from McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. He was chairman of the Donald Trump campaign in Darke County during last year’s election.
“Government and politics has been in my blood for a long, long time,” he said, saying he wants to get more involved in the community.
Illegal drug use is one issue Whitaker will focus on if elected to council.
“One thing that’s very concerning to me is the drug epidemic. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the legalization of marijuana. It just leads to nothing but further drug use. I’ll do anything I can do to keep Greenville a nice town to live in,” he said.
“I think it’s ridiculous that employers can’t keep employees because they can’t pass the drug test. It’s called leadership. You got to take the bull by the horn and stand up to some of this stuff because it needs to be dealt with,” Whitaker added.
He declined to comment on the Erwin Bros. issue, saying he did not have enough information to provide an opinion. However, Whitaker said he takes a “pro-business” stance in general.
“If Greenville’s going to be successful as a town, you have to make it business friendly,” he explained. “There’s a lot of empty storefronts that are concerning to me, and that’s probably true all over the country. I want to do everything that I can to help business succeed.”
Whitaker says he also hopes the city continues its efforts to improve the condition of Greenville’s streets and sidewalks.
“When you’re driving anywhere, you can tell where there’s financial problems. It’s an indicator. When the roads are nice and the streets are nice, it makes things a lot nicer as far as appearance goes,” he said.
Prior to moving to Greenville 10 years ago, Doug Wright was a longtime firefighter at the Union City, Ohio, Fire Department, including serving as fire chief. He also has worked running a gas station, a fuel delivery business, and travels across the country to advise fire and EMS units. Wright previously served on Union City’s City Council for 12 years.
When asked why he’s running for Greenville City Council, Wright said, “I’m not running for council for my benefit, I’m running for the benefit of the community and the citizens. I’ve talked to about all the departments in the city over the last couple years, and they have some ideas they want to try to implement, but the ‘receiving ear’ of them isn’t that good.”
Wright said he is aware of the situation with the Erwin Bros. fuel stop, but declined to comment specifically on the issue. However, as it regards the perception of late that Greenville is not business friendly, he hopes, if elected, that council will remedy this.
“When you’re elected to council, you’re elected by the citizens of the city, for the city, and you need to work for those people and just not work in one certain area. I want to work for citizens and businesses of the entire community,” he said.
Wright pointed to the city’s streets something that need addressed, having driven every city street to observe the conditions, but only as one need in a broader effort to improve the city.
“I think Greenville is a fantastic town. They’ve got a good police department, fire department, utilities — they’re good. But the departments can’t be ‘perfect’ all the time,” he said. “I want to be able to help the people, help the employees of the City of Greenville, and try to bring in some new business.”
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