David Rowlette

Political party: 
Question 1: 

What are the major issues facing the City of Berea?

1.Planning for growth – Given our location, Berea will grow with or without a plan.  Consequently, we can plan for the growth and develop our infrastructure accordingly.

2.Expanding our watersheds needs to be one of our highest priorities.  Without the clean pristine natural resource that we take for granted, we will be hard pressed to address our residential and commercial needs in the near future as we grow our local economy.   

3.An escalating drug problem, that effects families, employers, local crime rates, health care costs and fills up our jails.

Question 2: 

What is your position on future growth and development issues as they affect Berea; including further development of historical districts, tourism, and sustainable “buy local” initiatives?

We need a targeted approach to retail and industrial development.  Exit 77 is a prime location for retail development.  However, our proximity to the Richmond Centre and Hamburg make it difficult to recruit new retail establishments and buy local. We have a 400-acre industrial park located on a major north/south corridor and within a 500-mile radius of 2/3 of the US markets.   It is imperative that we diversify our efforts to recruit new sustainable jobs and to do so we need to have our industrial park shovel ready.  It is time to begin a critical review of the tourism initiatives that have been made possible through the local restaurant tax.  Given the popularity of adventure tourism, we may need to begin a more diversified approach to tourism by promoting the Pinnacles, Owsley Fork and the new Geocaching Tour as hard as we do arts and crafts.

Question 3: 

Are you in favor of the development of pedestrian and bicycle pathways as safe and practical options to motorized transportation in Berea? If so, what projects of this kind would be your priority?

Before we can begin to properly market the bike paths / multi-use paths we need to focus on connecting the existing paths and dedicating some additional bike lanes on the existing streets where the bicyclists prefer to ride.

Question 4: 

State and federal laws do not exist that ban discrimination against people in areas of housing, employment and public accommodation based on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Knowing that, would you be in favor of passing a fairness ordinance in Berea that would address this type of discrimination? Please explain.

The fairness issue was voted down (5 to 3) by the Berea City Council in 2014 and I support their decision.  The Human Rights Commission was since created to address discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.  Since their creation, they have processed only a handful of complaints and found that they have little or no power.  Unfortunately, their energy and resources have been misguided when one of their own commissioners chose to lead protests and demonstrations against the Berea Chamber of Commerce and their Signature Event the Spoonbread Festival, Madison County’s largest tourism draw and an economic driver for Berea’s business community.

Question 5: 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the years of 2010-2014, 19.7% of the residents of Madison County lived below the poverty line. What policies will you support to improve the availability of safe affordable housing and increased economic opportunities for all citizens?

Local builders and developers are very responsive to local housing needs.  However,  we have become a community of haves and have nots with the poverty level creeping up. In our schools, 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced lunches and we assume that everyone has three meals each day and affordable housing.  That just is not the case with many households, which are made up of a single parent or even grandparents raising grandchildren.   In the last month, community leaders from throughout the county came to gather to submit a pre-grant application to build a new high tech training center for training of young people for jobs of the future and to retrain adults that find their skills dated.  We are also interested in using the facility for developing work ready skills of inmates.  Good paying jobs are the key to moving this population out of poverty.

Question 6: 

What actions or initiatives can the city take to provide help and alternatives to families and people in Berea living with addiction?

We obviously cannot build enough jail cells to solve this problem, so we need to turn more attention to successful rehabilitation programs and workforce training and re-training programs.  Participants need to remove themselves from the environment that has created their problems weather it involves addiction to prescription drugs for pain management, abuse of alcohol or the hard core drugs like meth and heroin.  The drugs prevent them from being able to earn a livelihood and they often end up shoplifting or stealing to support their drug habits.  Oftentimes, these folks just need a second chance and an employer who is willing to take a risk.

Question 7: 

What measures do you support to foster good relations between law enforcement officers and our local community?

First, we as citizens need to learn to respect the law enforcement professionals and obey the laws. Stop speeding, running stop signs, parking illegally, drinking and driving, etc.  In today’s time it has become increasing difficult for our law enforcement personnel to differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys.  Secondly, our law enforcement professionals need to be visible in our neighborhoods, patrolling, organizing neighborhood watches, communicating with our youth, being role models for our citizens and cracking down on drug dealers.  In recent years, Berea has become a training program for other area law enforcement departments.  We as a City Council need to make sure that our wages and benefits are competitive with cities our size in order to retain our officers.

Question 8: 

Last year there was a great deal of controversy around the selling of confederate flag merchandise at the Spoonbread Festival, and Berea students reported being harassed on the basis of race while in town. Given that, what measures do you support to address racial harassment in Berea?

These two incidents are not related in any way.  We have laws that allow individuals that have been harassed to prosecute offenders.  The key is to document the incident or have witnesses. Our legal system stands ready to prosecute these cases.  The Spoonbread Festival is an example of a special interest group trying to impose their opinions on the general population.  These protestors disrupted our vendors, guests, our parade and created fear in the parents of young children and the 300+ volunteers.  The protestors were not properly permitted and our law enforcement officials should have taken them to jail for their actions.   Where were these protestors when similar items were on display and sold at L&N Days, the Blast from the Past Car Show and the Berea Craft Fair, all Berea Tourism Events?   Nowhere to be found.  We need to end these double standards!

Question 9: 

Berea is in the midst of making long-term decisions about where and how it gets and manages its wholesale electric power. Beyond safety, reliability and affordability, what considerations should be made with respect to Berea's electric power choices?

The Berea City Council voted 6-2 back in June of this year to enter into a 5 year contract with AMP Ohio.  A decision that I fully support.  Unfortunately, the administration (Randy Stone and Steve Connelly) failed to lock in our rate and execute the contract as requested by the City Council, a decision that has cost us $600,000 as consumers.  AMP has a 40+ year history as a co-op offering a diversified portfolio of energy sources, unlike the proposed start-up co-op (KYMEA) which cannot define their rates.