New faces running to replace the familiar in West Leipsic

By Bryan Reynolds -

WEST LEIPSIC — New candidates hope to replace familiar incumbents in the mayoral and Village Council races during the election on Nov. 7.

The mayoral election is for an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2019. Two candidates are vying for the position; acting Mayor Robert Alt Jr. and local firefighter Tim Critten.

Alt has been the acting mayor since March, when he was appointed by West Leipsic Village Council to replace Mayor Larry Engard, who fell ill a couple of months into his term after being elected in 2016, Alt said.

Alt had been a member of West Leipsic Village Council for 10 years before that time, he said.

“I decided to run for the unexpired term,” Alt said. “I’ve been active in the community and been on council for 10 years. We have a nice village and a good council.”

Alt said he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and doesn’t just push work off onto councilors. He gets involved with the work at hand and gets that job done.

“We’ve got a good little village and we get a lot of praise,” he said. “The council and I work hard to keep it that way.”

While Critten shares the vision of West Leipsic as a good village, he also sees it as a village in trouble, he said.

West Leipsic has an uncertain future, he said. There’s a question of whether the town will join Liberty Township, be absorbed by Leipsic, or continue to stand on its own. He doesn’t want to see West Leipsic’s history disappear.

He’s also concerned about the council’s seeming disinterest in dropping the high water and sewer rates in the village and demolishing a decaying grain elevator that has become a haven for rats and mice, as well as a potential hazard for trains should it ever fall on the railroad tracks.

“If I’m elected, I want to hear what the people have to say,” Critten said. “I want to hear their problems and solutions to help the town, rather than put ordinances in place to generate money from the people.”

As a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having served four years, including a two deployments in the Gulf War, and a firefighter, Critten said he knows what it means to serve the people. He was born and raised in West Leipsic.

There are five council candidates competing for four seats. Two incumbents are running, along with one candidate who served on Village Council before and two new candidates.

“I think we have started moving in the right direction and I want to keep heading that way,” said Cher Barnes, an incumbent candidate. “We’re getting the town cleaned up by enforcing village ordinances.”

Barnes said the council has been focusing on ensuring residents follow ordinances concerning keeping their properties presentable. They enforce these ordinances by sending out letters asking people to fix necessary issues and if they don’t follow those requests law enforcement is called in, she said.

Betty Berger served on the West Leipsic village council years ago and took a break, but is ready to get back to it, she said.

“A lot has been done in the past four years,” she said. “There’s more to be done and I think I’m the one to do it.”

Amanda Critten, wife of mayoral candidate Tim Critten, is one of the new candidates running for council. The sewage and water costs is a serious issue that should be explored by council more, she said.

After doing research online Amanda Critten found West Leipsic is eligible for grant that could lower the high rates village residents pay for water and sewage, she said.

“They [village council] said they don’t have enough money to write a grant,” she said, adding the council said it would cost $7,500 to apply for the grants.

The village pays Leipsic $7,500 every six months for police patrols, which seems excessive for a village as small as West Leipsic, Critten said. Instead of paying Leipsic that money she would like to see the village make a deal with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office for patrols again, which could cost less and leave money to file for the sewage grants, she said.

Incumbent Councilwoman Kathy Sanchez and newcomer Eric Zeisloft did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment for this story.

There will also be two levies on the West Leipsic ballot for consideration.

One for 3 mills for five years for police protection. The revenue from this levy will be used to help pay for police patrols from Leipsic, which charges the village $15,000 a year for police patrols, Alt said.

The second levy is for 3 mills for five years for fire protection. The revenue is used to help pay 6 percent of all firefighting costs for the Leipsic Fire Department, said Justin Barnhart, Leipsic village administrator.

By Bryan Reynolds

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362

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