ELIDA — Voters in the village of Elida have a decision to make Tuesday. Will incumbent Kim Hardy serve another four years as mayor, or will current village council member Claude Paxton ascend to the top administrative position? Both men have spent the past six years in their current seats, and both are committed to doing what they believe is best for the village and its approximately 1,900 residents.
Hardy, the former council president who took over the mayor’s seat some six years ago following the death of Ron Klopfenstein, is the owner of Jewel Master Repair Studio and was a master jeweler at Von’s for 43 years.
Hardy said that as mayor he has implemented a pro-active approach to keeping ahead of issues facing the village.
“The past six years have been a building process,” Hardy said. “We’ve filled some personnel vacancies and now we have an excellent staff. Our employees are extremely good. They know the village and they work hard. I’m extremely fortunate in that respect.”
Hardy listed as accomplishments during his time in office extensive improvements to the village’s waste water plant.
“We’ve kept ahead of (federal and state) mandates and have saved money by doing so,” he said. “Since I’ve taken office, we’ve also built a new town hall, worked with ODOT on the (state Route) 309 project to replace curbs and gutters and have finished a multitude of other projects.”
Hardy also listed the addition of storm and sanitary sewers and new or updated curbs, gutters and sidewalks as part of the “Greenlawn project” as a village accomplishment during his tenure in office.
“We’ve also replaced aging vehicles on an annual basis and are now putting money aside so we will be better prepared going forward,” said Hardy. “It’s a matter of long-range planning. I take pride in being proactive.”
He said a “total revision” of the village water plan is the next mayor project for Elida, and it’s something he hopes to see through to completion.
The mayor said that everyone associated with the village is responsible for its success. “We all want the village to be the best it can be,” he said.
Claude Paxton is halfway into his second elected term as a member of Elida Village Council. After six years on the panel, Paxton said he has developed a philosophy on governing that differs slightly from that of the current mayor.
“I try to stay positive, and I’m not going to say anything negative about my opponent. I just believe council needs to be more involved in the areas of policy and financing and staffing than it currently is,” Paxton said. “Government should run as a cooperative effort. There have been some issues where the mayor has pushed us to do things we weren’t willing to do.”
Paxton, a retired postal employee and finance tax preparer, said while the village has made improvements to the infrastructure in the community, more could be done.
“We need to continue to strengthen our financial standing so we can do more infrastructure projects. It’s not that we’re necessary lacking in that area as it is just a case of keeping up. The mayor has been doing what he thinks is right, but there are more upgrades that need to be done.”
If elected, Paxton said he would give the village council more authority in handing out pay hikes or hiring employees.
“The way it is now, the mayor decides who gets (pay) raises within a range that council provides. I would keep council more involved in pay raises and in staffing changes,” said Paxton. “The council needs to be kept aware.”
Paxton said he is proud of his community and only seeks to give back to it.
“We have a good community; people here are kind. My basic philosophy is that everybody in the village should be involved in their local government. People need to be part of the process.”