Five candidates are running for three open seats on Oxford City Council. Election day is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Jason Bracken is a scientist at heart. He’s a biologist and a doctoral candidate with a masters from Miami University’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES).
He moved to Oxford in 2012 for a masters program but stayed because of his love for the city.
“It easily could have been a two-year thing, but instead it’s blown up into something much more,” Bracken said.
Bracken decided to run for Council to give back to his community in a bigger way after volunteering for many years.
Bracken considers himself a progressive.
“I think in a community you should consider first the most vulnerable members,” Bracken said. “A lot of our petty crime stems from issues with basic needs and addiction. And so I think addressing that not only helps those who are most vulnerable, who I think are most deserving of our help in terms of need, but also will have ripple effects in other areas.”
Bracken said the city should be taking a proactive approach to the housing issues it currently faces.
“So far, we’ve only been responding to private entities that want to develop and then questioning whether that works for a city, but there’s not much room there,” Bracken said. “Instead, we should be proactively seeking out the types of housing that meet our community needs.”
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Bracken is a self-described “policy wonk” and is excited to further develop his ideas with city staff if elected.
Glenn Ellerbe’s first term on City Council has been about education and transparency. He said he originally ran for a seat on council to better understand how the city came to its decisions.
Now, he’s running for reelection to continue making policy he feels will better the entire community.
Some of Ellerbe’s proudest accomplishments during his first term include creating the Police Community Relations Commission, passing the levy for the Oxford Area Trails System, and bringing electric scooters to Oxford.
During his first four-year term, Ellerbe said his broad focus was making Oxford a city of choice for all travelers, which is something he hopes to continue to do if reelected.
Two of Ellerbe’s current platform pillars are land use equity and further development of multimodal transportation, like e-scooters.
Ellerbe also said he looks at every decision from a municipal focus as opposed to a special interest perspective. He said he thinks about who will be doing the legwork for the city.
“I like being an elected official. I hate being a politician,” Ellerbe said.
Ellerbe said he encourages all citizens, especially Miami students, to get involved in local politics by joining a commission. He said it’s the best place to start public service.
Ellerbe compared living in Oxford to living on a movie set. He said the stereotypical college town atmosphere drew him in and helped him fall in love with the city. Ellerbe added that fostering good relations with the university is important because students are drawn to the movie-like experience that Oxford offers.
Hueston Kyger is Oxford born and raised. He’s lived here for 38 years, and hopes to give City Council a younger, more business-minded perspective.
“I guess kind of a sense of duty,” Kyger said of why he chose to run. “I love Oxford; I want Oxford to be awesome — continue to be awesome — and I think that I can help point us in the right direction.”
Kyger operates University Motors, a full service garage and used car dealership on College Corner Pike.
Kyger is a first-time candidate for Council, but he has volunteered for many community events over the years, including the annual Oxford Community Picnic and the annual Oxford Wine and Craft Beer Festival.
“I’ve always had my ear to the proverbial grindstone of what’s going on,” Kyger said.
Kyger said he does not have any platforms in his campaign, only the desire to move Oxford forward.
“I do not have any axes to grind,” Kyger said. “I don’t have any things I'm going in to try to change or try to do different. There’s no agenda for me … I want to keep the ship steered in a solid direction.”
He added that he’s interested in creating housing stock for the city and increasing neighborhood connectivity.
“We need to add more housing,” Kyger said. “A lot of people talk about affordable housing in Oxford. It is an issue. It's a difficult issue to tackle just due to the effects the student population [has] on the price points and the market.”
Before moving to Oxford in 2016, Chris Skoglind was a public servant for over 20 years in Shrewsberry, Pennsylvania.
Skoglind’s wife grew up in Oxford and graduated from Miami, so when it came time for the pair to retire, they knew exactly the place to go.
Skoglind currently serves on the Historic Architecture Preservation Committee and said he’s always enjoyed giving back to his community and wants to continue that trend.
One of Skoglind’s goals is supporting the Oxford Police Department (OPD) and the Oxford Fire Department (OFD), but he did not outline how he would do so.
“Police have a lot of challenges here, given the types of people that make up Oxford,” Skoglind said. “I think Chief Jones does a very good job, him and his staff, but I know there’s probably new challenges coming each and every day, and we have to be able to do what we can to support his department in keeping Oxford safe for everyone.”
Another one of Skoglind’s goals is to step up the town-gown relationship between the city and Miami.
“What if we had a standing item on the City Council agenda that said a representative from Miami comes in and says, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and shares what’s long and short term and so forth,” Skoglind asked rhetorically.
Skoglind’s other platforms include maintaining Oxford’s fiscal responsibility, improving the mass transit system by looking into alternative fuel methods and creating more housing diversity, such as different floor plans, locations and prices.
Bill Snavely moved to Oxford for a job at Miami but stayed because of the community he found here. “I taught at Miami for 30 years,” Snavely said. “So, that’s what brought me to town. It was Oxford that kept me here, though.”
Snavely served 12 years on City Council beginning in the late 1980s and is currently the chair of Oxford’s Planning Commission.
“I’m pretty much a known quantity,” Snavely said of his continued public service. “People know who I am, and they know that I do my homework.”
Snavely said he’s proud of many things he was able to work on while in office including the creation of Uptown City Park, fixing the annual water shortage by creating new wells and the practice of saving for municipal constructions instead of raising taxes.
Snavely is running for another term with a campaign focused on the environment.
“I served on the Climate Action Steering Committee, so I support us implementing the recommendations of the Climate Action Steering Committee,” Snavely said.
Affordable housing is another one of Snavely’s platforms.
“Right now, it’s very difficult for anybody, but particularly those of low or moderate income, to afford to live here,” he added.
Snavely said he’s running for City Council again because he’s not done giving back to the city.
“I’m retired, so I have the time,” Snavely said with a laugh. “And I still want to serve the community.”