Residents of Scio Township Holds Q & A with Trustee Candidates
By Andy Nixon, STN Reporter
On Saturday, July 16th, the editor of Scio Community Newsletter, Pam Boyd, held a Q & A session with three candidates running for the vacated trustee seat. In attendance were Patrick McLaughlin, Abby Vakilian, and Jillian Kerry, who are all running under the Democratic ticket. Questions were submitted ahead of time from Scio Township residents and vetted by the township co-chairs. From a top hat, each question was randomly selected and asked of the next candidate waiting for a turn.
After a brief personal introduction from each candidate, the questioning began. Topics covered included the Parks and Pathways millage, current and future zoning for Scio Township, staffing levels within the local government, potential charter township status, and reducing tensions among residents and the board.
Patrick McLaughlin is a supporter of the land preservation millage, which over 73% of residents supported. He pointed out that the citizens of Scio Township now have four parks available along with ample parking, stating “the millage has provided a wonderful opportunity for picnics and walks,” which, “encourages people to get active and go enjoy nature.”
Abby Vakilian, who made it clear he is a progressive Democrat, drew a question regarding the difficult, lengthy zoning and site planning in Scio Township versus surrounding areas. When asked what he would do to make the area more attractive to residents and developers, Vakilian responded by stating a need for balance when it comes to large government or small government. He mentioned, “as a small business owner, I believe government should not be too overinflated, but as a Democrat also believe the government should not be underinflated.” If elected, he will also review the current process and see what can be done to smooth it out, without risking any serious environmental or other hazards when it comes to the planning process.
Jillian Kerry, a former farm owner, mentioned she is “all about land preservation”, but “cannot support another millage for preservation until our township financial department is staffed up and running efficiently.” When asked about the current financial department staffing, she agreed Scio Township is “very short staffed in that department, with one full-time employee, who happens to be on family medical leave at this time.” As a township bringing in over $1.4B in revenue, she also brought up the topic of a missing millage, inaccurate water bills for residents, and additional overlooked issues that hurt both residents and the government alike.
On the topic of government transparency, McLaughlin and Vakilian shared opposing answers. McLaughlin stated the board is very transparent with all meeting agendas and minutes available online for viewing. Vakilian struck that down and answered back that “transparency about what happens here at this table may be there, but it’s the behind-the-scenes action that has residents worried.
With tensions running high between residents and the Township, a question came in for Kerry as to how she would handle and lower the escalation. She responded by stating “the board has a job to do and an obligation to the residents; we don’t have time for personal agendas and special interests if elected to this position.” Through her outreach, many residents have concerns that “fall upon deaf ears” at the board level. If elected, her goal would be to present solutions, listen to feedback, and do her best to find resolutions that work for all parties involved.
The primary will be held Tuesday, August 2nd, and more information can be found at https://www.sciotownship.org/democracy/clerk/events-meetings
Disclaimer: This is NOT a Township Government-initiated event. This event is resident organized even though respected members of two Scio Township Commissions are the Co-Chairs. This event will take place in Scio Township Hall. Scio Township Hall is open for use by the public for such occasions.