AMERICAN TOWNSHIP — Two incumbents and one challenger are seeking election in the American Township Trustees race. Only two will be elected by voters.
The incumbents are Paul Basinger and Lynn Mohler while Ross Harmon hopes to unseat one of them.
Harmon is a former road crew worker for American Township.
“I worked there for six and a half years doing all the jobs — snow plowing, paving, cemetery work and I got to the point where, being in a lower end job, making $15.50 an hour I was like, I need to start looking around. Miraculously, an Allen County Sanitation job came up and I moved over there and I’ve been there for going on three years. I have wastewater collection licenses and I’ve been doing that kind of work,” Harmon said.
Basinger has been an American Township Trustee for 19 years.
“I enjoy what I do thoroughly. We’re making headway. We’re a debt-free township although we’re spending money, I mean. We built a new fire department over there on Edgewood (Drive). We purchased a couple of medic units which didn’t cost us anything with grant monies received and we just continue to be fiscally responsible,” Basinger said.
Mohler has been an American Township Trustee for 12 years and he wants to serve another four years.
“Why do I want a new term? I tell you what, things have been going so well for us. I liken it to a football team, basketball team or whatever the case is. We got three trustees. They get along well. All of us have our areas of expertise so consequently when something comes up, first refer me to one of them and then we discuss it. We get along with all of the heads of our departments. They support us 100% and we support them,” Mohler said.
Harmon left as an employee of American Township due to low wages and inadequate health insurance and that’s something he would like to correct if he’s elected township trustee.
“I kind of want to be on the front line of that and try to help keep these great employees that we have to stay here and make American Township that much better. I don’t want the firefighters to leave. I don’t want police officers to leave. Obviously financially, stuff happens. Funding happens. It goes up. It goes down but doing our best to keep those guys here,” Harmon said.
Basinger believes they’ve done a good job in retaining employees.
“In today’s job market you must be competitive and we are competitive on the police department side, the fire department side. We’re keeping up with everyone else so we don’t lose employees. We brought our wages up for employees. In order to be competitive, you must do that to retain good employees and I’m real proud of that fact that we’re able to do that,” Basinger said.
Mohler says the problem is a shortage of qualified candidates.
“We’ve recently had a difficult time trying to find qualified firefighters or law enforcement people. Firefighters sometimes leave because they moved to a different area because they find a better job. The problem is there’s a shortage of qualified firefighters as well as law enforcement. We’re like the minor leagues here. We get some good guys that are part-time police officers, for instance and you know they find a full-time job again. That’s great for them and I feel like we can help them along in their careers as far as that’s concerned,” Mohler said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.