Candidates compete for fifth ward in Piqua


By Eamon Baird

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PIQUA — The city of Piqua is split into five wards, with a commissioner serving as a representative for a four-year term. On Election Day, Piqua residents will elect commissioners in wards one, two, and five. The fifth ward commissioner race between Frank DeBrosse and Gary Koenig.

DeBrosse graduated from Piqua High School in 2000 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 2005. He is currently the district director for Congressman Mike Turner. He also served in the same position as former House Speaker John Boehner and was a legislative assistant for Congressman Steve LaTourette.

Gary Koenig has a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Science in civil engineering from the University of California. He currently serves the Piqua Planning Commission and the Piqua Housing Council.

The candidates were both asked the same questions about why they should be elected and what issues are important as the fifth ward commissioner and their answers are listed below as submitted.

Why are you running for Piqua City Commission?

DeBrosse: “Piqua is my home. I was born and raised in Piqua and moved back home to get married and raise my family here. My greatest motivation is to give the citizens of Piqua a reliable voice in their government. I also believe we need a stronger focus on economic development and job growth in our community.”

Koenig: “I have found that citizens are positive about living in the city of Piqua. I am passionate about the opportunity to serve the citizens of Piqua as the 5th Ward Commissioner. It is a good fit for my leadership background and lifetime of service. The city of Piqua has been making outstanding progress over the last few years in providing service to its citizens. Recently, issues have developed which must be addressed to ensure “Accountable City Government” to the citizens. Also, I will work diligently to bring more good jobs to Piqua when elected as your Fifth Ward City Commissioner.”

Why do you feel you’re the best candidate to serve as a commissioner?

DeBrosse: “In a word, experience. I have spent the last 18 years working for three of Ohio’s most respected elected officials and have been involved in solving some of the most complex issues communities in the Miami Valley have faced. I’ve also been actively involved in several significant economic development projects throughout our region.”

Koenig: “I am the best-qualified candidate. I will leverage my work experience and service to the city on boards and commissions over the years to provide outstanding city services to the city of Piqua when you vote for me as your 5th Ward Commissioner.”

How can you improve communication with residents?

DeBrosse: “The best form of democracy is a participatory democracy. Elected Officials must engage with the citizens who elected them and advocate for their interests. We must do a better job of listening to the citizens of Piqua and working on the issues that are important to them.”

Koenig: “There is a lack of “transparency” from the city government and city commissioners. There are legitimate questions that citizens have raised relative to the battery burns at the former site of the city Water Treatment Plant. I think that the city should be forthcoming with answers to questions. As I stated in the city commission meeting on Oct. 3, 2023, the city should establish a website where questions could be asked, and answers exchanged. When I am elected, I will present the information to the citizens on city matters in city commission meetings or open town hall sessions.”

What is the biggest challenge the city is facing?

DeBrosse: “The overall lack of economic development and job creation is a large challenge the city is facing. Piqua is a tremendous place, and we have a lot of assets that make us an appealing place to live, work, and invest in. I have been a part of several of these projects throughout the region, and it’s time that Piqua begin to capitalize on the economic development front.”

Koenig: There is a loss of credibility towards the city government (elected leaders and City Staff) on the battery burn issue. There was a protest last night on the issue at the City Hall. In my discussion with citizens as I canvass in the neighborhoods, many are concerned to find out what happened, what will be the environmental consequences, and what is the path forward to resolve this situation. As the city commissioner, I will work to answer the questions and bring the situation to a positive conclusion.”

How do you bring more funding to the city?

DeBrosse: “Often in government, it’s not necessarily a revenue problem; it’s a spending problem. We need to make sure we are investing in the priorities the citizens of Piqua expect us to. Also, we must be good stewards of tax dollars and pursue other sources of funding at the state and federal levels when we need assistance. Increasing taxes or fees on the citizens of Piqua is not the answer.”

Koenig: “I will professionally represent Piqua at all local, regional, and state meetings and function as an advocate to market Piqua in the Miami Valley Region. Piqua is on the verge of significant economic development. On the Piqua Planning Commission, we approved industrial zoning for large amounts of acreage at the former Statler Farms in the southern part of the town. I expect that very soon, we will see significant economic expansion in this area. The funding will come with the jobs that result from the economic expansion.”

Any comments you’d like to add?

DeBrosse: “A lot of residents I have spoken to recently asked my position on the battery testing/burning facility that was located at our old water plant, and here is my answer to that question. My position is clear: I am adamantly opposed to the burning of hazardous materials – not just close to our water supply, homes, businesses, or parks – but within the city limits. Those who were responsible for allowing this to happen must be held accountable.”

Koenig: “Over the next four years, I will not support an increase in utility stormwater fees ($20 to $60 per month) for the dam project (Franz Pond/Echo Lake/Swift Run Lake modifications required by the State of Ohio). There should be no increase in the City of Piqua citizens’ utility bills to fund what are essentially private homes and bike paths, lake views, and recreation. I support the least cost dam option on the design study along with the pursuit of grants to pay for any solution to the dam project.”

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