Thursday, August 05, 1999

Lebanon council race has 5 seeking 3 seats

Son of ousted woman running

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Hollywood still may be figuring out its fall lineup, but Lebanon's election-season drama began Wednesday — with a plot twist or two.

        Among the five candidates seeking three spots on city council are brothers-in-law John McComb and Jim Reinhard, the two incumbents.

        Mr. McComb also faces Ben Cole, the son of former Council woman Mary-Ann Cole. Mr. McComb bankrolled more than half of the May 1998 recall effort that ousted Mrs. Cole and put him in her seat.

        “This is not a revenge candidacy or campaign,” Mr. Cole said Wednesday. “What has been done is done.”

        Mr. Cole and the other candidates who met Wednesday's deadline to file petitions with the Warren County Board of Elections — Jane Davenport and Ron Pandorf — said they want to focus on the real-life issues facing Lebanon, such as curbing its growth and responsibly managing taxpayer dollars. The candidates face the task of balancing the current economic boom with maintaining Lebanon's small-town charm.

        The city, like many communities on the rim of Cincinnati, has seen its population explode, up more than 30 percent in a decade to an estimated 13,700. The city is on pace this year to set a record for housing construction. And council approved in the last two months several

        tax incentive deals expected to create 180 jobs.

        “It's a nice town,” said Mrs. Davenport, “and I want it to stay that way.”

        She said her primary focus would be to make government more open and accessible to the public.

        Incumbents Mr. McComb and Mr. Reinhard said the current council has worked diligently to develop a set of goals to guide the city's future.

        “We've got a good team,” Mr. Reinhard said. “I don't want to see the team broken up. We've accomplished a lot.”

        Council's successes this year, Mr. Reinhard said, include:

        • Passage of a fire levy and buying land for a second station.

        • Building a telecommunications system and offering cable TV and Internet access to residents.

        • Starting construction on the sewer system.

        • Finalizing plans for gateway zoning.

        Mr. McComb said council has helped maintain the small-town feel of Lebanon by its emphasis on lower- density housing, parks and recreation, and preservation of green space.

        “It's a good start, but there's more work to do,” Mr. McComb said. “I'd like to be around for the next four years to follow it through.”

        Candidate Ron Pandorf said the current council has provided leadership. But the question is “whether it's as good as it can be.”

        He is concerned about recent land purchases and the city's finances.

        “City government and the city administration are supposed to represent the people, not specific interests, which I feel they're doing to some extent today,” Mr. Pandorf said.

        Mr. Cole said his campaign platform will center on city spending and controlling growth.

        “I don't want to get into any specific gripes with council. They have a hard job,” he said. “This is about issues, not about people.”


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