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Voters ousted 11 trusteess

By Mike Sever Record-Courier staff writer Published: November 6, 1997 12:00 AM

Several observers of Tuesday night's poll results said they could not remember a year when so many incumbents were turned out.

Individually, the township races hinged on local issues and problems, but the overall theme can be summed up in "change."

The face of township government is changing as development, or the desire for it, alters the size and makeup of township populations. Voters were looking for new ideas, a new style of leadership and a new direction for their townships, according to several of the winners.

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"I was as surprised as anyone" at the outcome, said Edith Graves after winning the post of Atwater trustee.

In addition to upsetting long-term incumbents, Graves and Connie Leedom of Mantua Township made the history book by being the first women elected as trustees in their respective townships.

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For Graves and other new trustees, success at the ballot box came by doing it the old-fashioned way of going door-to-door in their community and listening to people.

"The people spoke up for me, they wanted a change," she said. "They didn't feel like they were any real part of any decision making. I promised them nothing but honesty, hard work and representation, and that's what they wanted."

Graves said the township is growing and new residents have new concerns that maybe the incumbents didn't recognize or didn't want to deal with.

New residents want development, but also want to maintain the rural atmosphere, she said.

"They want to have a tax base, but they also want some of the conveniences other townships have" such as a nearby grocery or other stores, she said. "We're growing. You'd be surprised at how many new homes are going in. And we have to have something here for these people."

Graves praised Kyle Loudin for his dedication to the township. "I respect Kyle in a lot of ways," she said.

In Nelson, winner James Turos tallied double the votes of his nearest challenger. And incumbents Donald Jagers, with 16 years of experience, and James Visocan, with eight years, finished out of the running.

Turos said it was new, younger people moving into the township that were key to his election.

"In meeting and talking with those people, they were interested in community. A lot of others viewed them as outsiders and I viewed them as newcomers," he said.

A lot of new, registered voters were not aware of the issues in the township.

Turos capitalized on the fact his farmers' market in an old church on the Nelson circle made it easy for him to meet a lot of new residents. Also, his family has been in the township since 1921, so he was familiar to long- time residents, and he's been active in community service over the years.

Connie Leedom said the issue of development fueled the Mantua Township vote.

"They were ready for a change. They know that growth is inevitable and they wanted someone there who was going to work with the community, and to manage it, not control it; and work for the future of the township," she said.

The future of sand and gravel mining in the township has been a heated issue for more than a year, and is connected to how the township will grow. Leedom said that was the prime concern of voters she met while going to some 750 township homes.

"I told them I don't think we can control that growth, but we can manage it."

Leedom said she learned a lot through the campaigning itself.

"Even if I didn't win, I met so many nice people who invited me into their homes to talk about what they thought were the duties and responsibilities of the township trustees," she said.

For David L. Pettigrew, the campaign in Deerfield was a mild one as far as he was concerned. He said it was a very polite campaign without some of the negative tactics that cropped up in other races.

It was a first run for Pettigrew who took top votes, besting first-term incumbent John D. Girscht.

Pettigrew was on the Southeast school board for four years and was township road supervisor for five years. He said he thought his past experience and reputation helped his campaign.

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