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Liverpool Township candidates talk election issues

LACROFT — Two of Liverpool Township’s three trustees are running for re-election this year, and being challenged by a relative political newcomer.

Mike Bahen and Dennis Giambroni hope voters like the job that they along with Keith Burke are doing leading the township, choosing to keep them on along with elect Shirley Flati, who is seeking election to the fiscal officer job after being appointed earlier this year. Flati is uncontested.

Brian Miller, of Macrum Street from the Dixonville neighborhood, hopes to see himself on the board next year.

Liverpool Township has very active safety forces, including a full-time police department headed by Chief Jayson Jackson.

The incumbents noted that the department employs full-time and two part-time police officers. Both men said Liverpool Township police currently don’t have body cameras for its officers, but they are looking to change this.

As Giambroni, who chairs the board, explains, “(Body cameras) would help protect police officers and citizens against false accusations, claims of misconduct or abuse. This also increases transparency and accountability of our officers, (as well as) help prevent and de-esculate confrontational situations between officers and civilians.” In recent years, he adds that the department has updated equipment secured through grants, such as bulletproof vests, and computers in cruisers – some of which were funded through tax levies.

Miller also would like to see officers be offered incentives to enjoy long careers with the township police force. “As far as equipment and services, officers should have all the training and schooling that they desire,” he added.

Bahen, himself the township’s retired fire chief, explains that Liverpool Township has one of two township-owned fire departments in Columbiana County.

With its LaCroft and Dixonville stations, he said that the township funds its departments through tax levies and recently purchased two new fire engines (one for each station) that should be delivered around August 2022. Close attention is directed toward applying for grants, which enable to upgrade the department’s equipment at little cost to citizens.

Miller agrees this should be a priority, committing to “become familiar with what is needed and how to further streamline any process to which the funding is arranged. Keeping equipment updated and in good condition is important.”

A former township road employee now working with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Miller knows the plight associated with the township roads first hand. “There is roughly 36 miles of township roads that need to be taken care of. This is funded by taxpayers dollars. The biggest hurdle is keeping the roads maintained and updated. Some of the asphalt roads need to be upgraded. At this time, the equipment has been updated. I would keep the roads maintained and the equipment updated.”

Bahen agrees that the biggest hurdle is keeping the roads on a schedule to repave them every five to seven years within the township’s budget. “If re-elected, we will be receiving Issue 2 money in 2023, (and) the board wants to use it to redo the roads up on Candle and Lantern streets as well as Lighthouse Court. This will cost about $140,000 a mile. We only are getting about $122,000 to (complete the job), but this board is going to try and get it done.”

Giambroni is highly complimentary of the township’s road crew, who gets the job done. “We need to keep a strict schedule for resurfacing the roads. You have to or you may lose them. Our road crew is second to none. They work well together and are always keeping on top of issues, (knowing) when to make things a priority.”

Both trustees also had high praise for zoning officer Kayla Crowl and litter control supervisor Marion Perkins. Miller agrees that the litter control program needs to be working well, and the township is split on the topic of zoning.

“A leader’s job is to help the citizens reach a compromise, so everyone feels as though their opinion is hard and acted upon,” he explained, adding that while some areas, such as Dairy Lane and around St. John’s Lutheran Church are zoned, other areas, like Dixonville or the Shadyside/Campground area are not.

The pandemic made broadband deserts to the forefront of the conversation in portions of the community, like for the township’s Campground residents. Trustees elected to spend a portion of its American Rescue Plan moneys to expand coverage in that area, allowing more people to enjoy internet access to work and educate themselves from home.

All three trustees agree that it was a good investment.

“We worked on trying to get broadband about a year ago when COVID broke out; (however), at that time, the township didn’t have the funds to help. When the ARP money came out, that was a way that we could help the residents,” said Bahen.

Giambroni said that it was a “no-brainer,” and if there are other areas, trustees will consider it based as the cost factor. He was glad that the COVID money was there to help.

Miller also agreed that “expanding coverage (was) a good idea, (and the fact that it was) at no cost to taxpayers (was) a bonus.”

He added that if he was elected to serve that he wants to be accessible to all: “I would be open to both the older generation and the younger generation to learn about the problems and concerns of both. I (also) would like to reach out to the surrounding area (municipalities) and townships to branch out in all areas to work together,” Miller said.

Giambroni concluded that maintaining the current teamwork atmosphere, which includes himself, Burke, Bahen and Flati, is important. “Working together as a team is essential to make good decisions to get the work done in the township. We have to be able to discuss and communicate with one another when decisions need to be made.”

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