Five candidates, including two incumbents, are seeking two positions as Columbia Township trustee. One candidate, Lou Price, chose not to participate in this story.
What are the biggest issues facing the township?
Heidecker: The biggest issues are the water runoff fee that Northern Ohio Sewer District wants to collect from all of the township and not belonging to NOPEC.
Neiger: Right now, the biggest issues are the budgetary issues due to the economy, the local schools because they need new flex money to take care of the buildings. And the third issue is the passage of the county-wide half-percent sales increase tax because the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department could very well be out of service if it’s not passed, which is a concern for all township residents who depend on the department for policing issues
Musto: Development, annexation, sewers, storm water runoff, roads, fire department, law enforcement and the schools. All of these issues and many more are important to our community. The community is getting a lot of pressure to grow. We must work to have our community grow with the current residents in mind. Any growth of the community must benefit the residents in Columbia and follow all state and federal laws.
Pojman: Taxes, zoning, fire department and road department and the economy. We need to try to not increase taxes and make sure we have a top-notch fire and road department. We do have a comprehensive plan and we are working with the Lorain County commissioners to offset some of the expenses we have.
How do you plan to address them?
Heidecker: Have the county commissioners send a letter to the sewer districts to have Columbia removed. Plus, NOPEC — this issue should be put up for a vote for the citizens.
Neiger: I have spoken out at several meetings that we need to pass the county-wide half-percent sales increase tax otherwise the criminal justice system will be greatly diminished.
As for the economy, we don’t have a lot of businesses in Columbia. How we handle it is to try to keep everything as is. We don’t want to increase manpower and we don’t want to try to buy new equipment because we don’t know what next year’s budget is going to bring. Monetary issues are very important to townships.
As for the schools, we need the passage of the levy, but I know there are a number of retired people in Columbia who are on fixed incomes. I don’t want to see anyone lose their home because of taxes. The retired people put their money and time and they built the township. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
Musto: I plan to develop a good working relationship with all of the people in and around the community. I will work with the residents, trustees, board of zoning, our fire chief, school board, county government, state government and all others. I believe it takes everyone’s cooperation to get projects completed.
Pojman: We need to continue to work with the Lorain County commissioners and continue to work with the Lorain County Township Association where we will discuss the local problems and how to solve them.
What makes you best suited for the job?
Heidecker: I understand the budgets and how they affect the township from my years on the fire department.
Neiger: My experience with dealing with municipal budgets will help as I have dealt with them for more than 20 years. I have a good understanding of what it takes to run a township. I know how the system works. I have been in the township more than 30 years and I have attended trustee meetings since 1990.
Musto: My entire life has revolved around customer service and satisfaction. I have strived to satisfy all my customers and the people that work with and around me. Good communication and common sense is key to getting tasks done. I do not have a personal agenda to work on as a trustee. The health, safety and welfare of the residents and community are going to be my focus.
Pojman: Honesty — what you see is what you get. You will know where I stand. I also take the time to listen to people and give them an honest answer.
Education: Graduated from Jefferson Area High School in Jefferson, Ohio, and attended numerous fire investigation schools as a member of the Columbia Township Fire Department.
Family: Wife, Sandy, five children and eight grandchildren
Job history: U.S. Navy, 1963-1967; retired from Columbia Township Fire Department after 23 years of service; retired from Pain Enterprises after 32 years
Education: Lorain County Community College for business and accounting courses and a long list of professional development courses pertaining to home inspections, taxes, liabilities, accounting and company operations, radon and mold testing, and customer relations.
Family: Wife, Cindy, daughters Amy and Jennifer, and three grandchildren, Julia, McKenna and Nathan.
Job history: 2001-present: Owner of a home inspection company that performs inspections for real estate transactions both residential and commercial; 1995 to present: co-own a horseback riding academy in Columbia Township
Web site: www.mikemusto.com
Education: High school graduate with three years of college and training with the fire service
Family: Wife, Kathleen, and children Kathleen, Michele, Michael, Dennis and Edward
Job history: Retired after 32 years with the Parma Fire Department
Education: High school graduate with some college
Family: Married for 45 years with five children
Job history: 10 years in the U.S. Air Force; 15 years with Airtron; owns own heating and air conditioning company. Also serves as a trustee assigned to Southwest General Hospital Systems board of directors.