LIMA — After months of campaigning,voters in Fort Shawnee on Tuesday spoke and said it’s time to turn the page on the village.
Residents voted 1,031 to 828 to disincorporate the village. A 3.25 mill additional operating levy that Mayor Pete Mariotti said would stabilize the village’s finances also lost 1,286 to 571.
“Obviously, the majority of the people have chosen to dissolve the village. It’s our democratic process at work,” Mariotti said. “I respect their decision. It’s our system and it’s a system that serves us well. They think it’s in their best interest to dissolve the village. I respect their opinion.”
Now, the work begins to shut down village operations. It’s a costly proposition, with estimates as high as $1.3 million, Mariotti said.
“Where that money will come from I don’t know,” Mariotti said.
Craig Bradford, a resident who helped lead the effort to dissolve the village, said he was pleased with the results.
“It shows exactly what citizens can do when they put party politics aside and work on one issue. I’m proud that the citizens all got together and made their voice heard,” Bradford said. “I was telling folks first thing this morning we have two choices we can either make history today or we can continue to let the mayor and council continue to make our rights history and I think the people made it clear which way they wanted to go.”
The financial disarray at the village over the past few years clearly weighed on some voters minds at the polls.
“I think it’s time for just one Shawnee community again,” Tyler Maier said. “It’s time to let it go.”
It was the loss of services, such as street lights, that led Tim Meeker to cast his ballot to disincorporate the village.
“I think it’s time for a change. It’s bad enough when you have kids doing trick or treat and they can’t see,” Meeker said. “I’m really hoping things change for the better. I don’t think it can get any worse.”
Deb Goodin said the garbage contract was among the issues that persuaded her to vote against keeping the village.
“I just didn’t trust the way they are handling the money,” Goodin said. “It’s more of a tax dollars issue for me than anything else.”
For Joe Cremonese, however, the financial woes occurred under the previous mayor and council’s watch and the 10 months since Mariotti was elected wasn’t enough time to right the ship.
“I didn’t hear anything that made a convincing argument that disincorporation was the right thing to do. Frankly, I was amazed at how emotional people were getting about a garbage contract,” Cremonese said. “He’s done a hell of a job. He’s getting blamed for things he had no control or involvement in. I think the people who are looking to disincorporate should be careful what they wish for because they might just get it.”