DELPHOS — It was a decision that residents of Delphos were not anticipating having to make earlier this year.
Former Delphos Mayor Michael Gallmeier was set to remain mayor through the remainder of his term, which was to run through 2019. However, health concerns forced Gallmeier to resign in June, forcing the Allen and Van Wert County Democratic Parties to select a replacement, which came in the form of John Parent, who was appointed in August.
Now Parent faces opposition from Delphos City Council member Josh Gillespie, retired manufacturer Doug Mullenhour and retired Fire Chief Wayne Suever, all looking to complete Gallmeier’s unexpired term, which runs through 2019.
For Parent, the advantage he says he brings is that he has already transitioned into the position, having been mayor since August. This means he can get to work from day one.
“I think it’s an advantage for the city,” he said. “Any time you have a change in administration, there’s going to be a period where things may not be going as smoothly as you’d like just because of the unfamiliarity with the situation. If we were to have a change in administrators again after just having done that in August, you’re basically wasting time. I’ve already gone through it.”
For Parent, providing essential safety services is his first priority, including integrating the pay for firefighters previously funded through the SAFER grant into the city budget. Another priority is working to combat the opioid epidemic impacting Delphos and the rest of the state.
For Gillespie, he said his experience on City Council, on which he has served since 2012, makes him an ideal choice for mayor. Part of what he would like to do is implement quarterly town halls to give residents the chance to hear firsthand what city government is doing. Gillespie also called for the creation of a long-term financial road map for the city, forecasting out future projects and working to set aside money ahead of time to reduce reliance on grants. He also wants the city to do more to help meet the needs of businesses already in the city, creating a more attractive environment for new development.
“If they have expansions planned, what can the city do to help them with that?” he said. “The common thing to say is that we need to bring new manufacturers in. We’re not doing a good job keeping the businesses already here happy. We need to focus on keeping them happy and ensuring they stay here.”
Both Mullenhour and Suever assert that the fact that they’re retired is an advantage to Delphos voters, as it means they’ll be able to devote more of their time to serving as mayor. Mullenhour, who was also considered by the Allen and Van Wert Democratic Parties to replace Gallmeier, does not have political experience, but his time spent working with the city’s Civil Service Board inspired him to run for office. Along with maintaining safety services and addressing opiates, Mullenhour wants to help facilitate the revitalization of Delphos’ downtown.
“We have some buildings that are deteriorating, and we have some owners that are not willing to sell them for a reasonable price, and I don’t think they’re willing to put money into them,” he said. “We need to work on our downtown, clean it up and make it look nice. When you have people coming in, you don’t want your town looking run down.”
Suever spent 31 years with Delphos Fire and Rescue, 14 of which he served as chief. That experience with city administration will help him move quickly through any transition period should he be elected mayor, he said. While Suever emphasized that expectations should be tempered for whomever gets elected, since that mayor would only have two years to administrate before another election, he said that there are some things that could be done during that time, especially with supporting local businesses, working to address opioid abuse and shoring up the city’s safety services.
“You also have to make sure that all your safety personnel are properly trained and have the proper equipment to deal with occurrences,” he said. “You know, 35 years ago, when on calls, you didn’t think about putting on gloves and having face shields. As time progressed, blood diseases have come to light, and it’s a whole new training process and thought process on how to handle these incidents.”