2017 Voter's Guide is printed below, on this page




Information About All Candidates for Athens City Council

and State Issues 1 & 2


Go to Vote411.org

(And by the way: be sure to enter your street name, etc., at the left when you sign in.)


For information about Candidate Forums, click on VOTER INFORMATION above.




Election Day Draws Nigh! Coalition On Homelessness and Housing in Ohio has an excellent website about "all things electoral". Click here for their Election Pages.


Now is the time to dig in and get busy for

Congressional Redistricting!

Click here


Notes about the 2017 Annual Meeting, go to EVENTS, above




The League of Women Voters of Athens County is a nonpartisan organization that works to promote political responsibility through active, informed participation of all citizens in government. The League does not support or oppose any political party or candidate.  Questions and word limits are set by the League. Information is printed as submitted. According to the guidelines of The League of Women Voters, the League does not alter, edit or correct candidates’ responses to questions however “and” and “&” have been interchanged where needed for layout purposes only. Candidates were instructed to this effect, and that any words over limits stated may not be printed. Each candidate is solely responsible for the accuracy of his/her statements. A candidate's answers are printed with the understanding that the material will not be used in any way that may be deemed to be an endorsement by the League of his or her candidacy or views.


Election Day is November 7, 2017

To find your polling place phone the Board of Elections at 740-592-3201 or visit: www.athensboardofelections.com



Office: Athens City Council     At-Large



(alphabetical      order)

Sarah Grace, Democrat

Peter Kotses, Democrat


Patrick McGee,


Arian Smedley,


Noah Trembly


Occupation, Training and Experience

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University and am currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. I worked as a legislative research assistant, so I have experience in both researching and drafting legislation. I am a small business owner, so I understand the benefits and difficulties of that endeavor.


Lifelong resident of Athens. Graduate Athens High School (1988) and Ohio University (B. A. History, 1992). Established Athens Bicycle, a small retail business in Athens (1998 to present). Have volunteered time for the Athens Land Conservation Advisory Committee, The Hockhocking Adena Bikeway Committee, Friends of Strouds Run, and the Athens Bicycle Club. 2016 Leadership Athens County graduate. Currently serving my first term on Athens City Council.


Ohio University; University of Kentucky College of Law (1978); practicing Attorney in Athens since 1980; Managing Attorney with the Center for Student Legal Services since 2003; harpist and piper.


Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities - Director of IPAC - Community Relations Coordinator with Athens County Job & Family Services - Former journalist with The Associated Press and The Athens Messenger - Bachelor's Degree in Journalism & Spanish from Ohio University - Graduate of Athens High School

Fort Frye high School '99 Studied at Ohio University 2013 - 2014 Full Moon Designs 1998 - 2004 Artist 2004 - 2009 Prentke Romich Company 2001 - Current Ohio University 2012 - 2017



What are your skills, talents and expertise that will help you contribute to the ongoing work of City Council?



I am a good listener. I want to know the concerns and priorities of people in the city, and have the opportunity to work to address those issues. I believe that those who are elected to be representatives for their communities, must be fully committed to that job, representing their constituents. I have experience working with diverse groups of people who have common goals, but do not know how to achieve them. I am able to help people work through their differences in order get things done.


Being active in the community for decades, paying attention to the issues our city has faced, I understand the historical context of the city and the initiatives citizens have been working on for years. By bringing my business experience to the government conversation I can help the city encourage prudent business expansion. My customer service background allows me to listen and gain information from every conversation I have with citizens and city staff members. I'm always ready to help.



I have insomnia, a sense of humor, and I'm not afraid to ask questions--and I know what questions to ask. I'm also cheap and I don't waste money. I know the law and have helped thousands of clients, so I have heard their stories and understand their problems. First I believe we must "mind the store" and use our money wisely and invest in the future. To do this. we must keep an eye on the Administration, watch the books, and listen to the citizens of Athens.


I have sensitivity to those who are most vulnerable in our community. As a staff member of the Athens County Board of DD, I’ve gained a new appreciation for what our neighbors are capable of with the right amount of support. As a former employee of Athens County JFS, I’ve learned of some of the challenges those in poverty face every day. Through these experiences, I’ve developed a compassion for meeting people where they are, understanding their perspective, and working to problem solve.


1. Management I manage a team of professional staff who help me with various tasks, etc. This includes motivating team members. 2. Process. I understand how to work complex channels to make things happen. 3. Speaking I have experience speaking to groups. 4. Community involvement. I am active in the community and advocate for causes that make Athens a better place to live. 5. Town & Gown I have strong ties to the university, which will be an asset to a government body that works closely with OU.


What are the most important issues facing the city of Athens in the next two years?Grace:


Supporting everyone included in the diverse population of Athens is always an important issue. Roadway projects that are in progress or in the planning stages, and other infrastructure projects to maintain and improve things like sidewalks and sewer lines are all important. Though it is not an issue for City Council, I believe that the building plan for the Athens City School District is one of the most significant issues that residents of the city will be involved in in the coming years.



Keeping city services at the level residents expect, despite a shrinking budget. Spending the rec levy dollars wisely to benefit the most citizens per dollar. We also need to start looking at new facilities for fire and police. Both are in decades-old buildings, but the population and number of service calls are increasing. We pay $50,000 annually to rent parking spaces for APD to make the uptown location work. Saving that expenditure could go a long way toward paying for new buildings.



Ensuring that our citizens have opportunities to prosper and enjoy good lives. That means promoting new businesses, public transportation, neighborhood schools and decent housing. At the same time we must ensure that our environment and quality of life do not suffer. We must encourage the arts and tourism and partner with O.U. to make Athens an attractive destination. We must offer alternatives to alcohol abuse, and deal in a positive manner with the future legalization of pot in Ohio.


One of the most important issues facing the City of Athens is its shrinking revenue sources while continuing to fulfill its mission and vision of creating a place that is inclusive and accessible to all. That’s a balancing act that our current administration and council members have managed quite well. But, we will need to continue to be open to new and creative ideas so that we can grow and develop (economically, and in our quality of life) locally, even when our state-level support shrinks.


Zero Waste

Better Infrastructure Better Public




Given that state funds are constantly shrinking, how would you suggest prioritizing the budget? Would you consider raising local revenue and, if so, how would you propose to do that?


An important part of the job of a city official is to advocate for their city at both the state and federal levels. That includes working to raise awareness in the city of how state budget decisions impact the availability of funding for local needs. Prioritizing items in a budget is never easy or popular. Items providing for of health and safety of residents must be funded first. I do not believe that it will be necessary to increase local revenue for the city in the next two years.


With city income tax already raised to 1.85% the city is in no position to raise taxes. Running an efficient operation is the best way to make do with less. We could make our buildings more efficient and streamline processes, freeing up labor for other tasks. We need to diversify the types of businesses that locate here. Tourism is a potential growth area too. Working more with ACEDC and the ACCVB could help. Higher education has been great to Athens but we need to expand our portfolio.


After serving a term as a city councilman, I realize that a real issue is wasteful spending. The State dangles its grants to the city if we agree to spend our funds on expensive or unnecessary items. In a city where over half the population lives on minimum wages, we want to give larger salaries to department heads. We can spend more wisely, we can earn dollars by attracting visitors and we can promote excellence rather than mediocrity by rewarding our artists, businesses and crafts folk.


When it comes to the budget, it's important the city continues to prioritize safety. In terms of bringing in new revenue, I am fully in support of the Mayor’s interest in re-instituting the Special Investment District concept. This would increase revenue in a time when our funds from the state dwindle. It is also a way to encourage citizen engagement. Funds generated in that small geographic area would only be used in that district and only in ways approved by the governing body.


Considering revising city codes as it pertains to new businesses in order to make it easier to bring them into the city, thus creating the opportunity to generate more revenue for the city of Athens. I plan to support a proposal that the Mayor’s office shared with me to implement a $100 annual fee to all college students to help offset lost revenue and pay for important services provided by the Athens City Fire Department.








Office: Athen City Council- 1st Ward



Candidates (alphabetical  order)                                       

Kent Butler -Democrat

Brian Christi- Independent

Occupation, Training and Experience

Education and Experience: BFA, '95, Ohio University (Sculpture, Photography, Printmaking), M.Ed., '02, Ohio University (Rehabilitation Counseling)


Education and Experience: Kent Stat University Masters of Library and Information Science (2014) Northeastern Illinois University Masters of Elementary Education (2010) University of Illinois at Chicago Bachelors of Communications (2003) My work experience is diverse. I have worked on film sets visiting Chicago, led early childhood classrooms, worked as an administrative assistant in Chicago Public Schools, Athens Real Estate, a student circulation worker at Alden Library and as a librarian in APL.


Q: What are your skills,

talents and expertise that will help you contribute to the ongoing work of City Council?


In my ten years of serving as the First Ward representative I strive to listen, engage, and actively participate in dialogue with constituents. I am willing to advocate for others, and champion progressive, forward thinking ideas. I currently chair the City Service and Safety Committee in which I deal with city infrastructure and Police & Fire needs. I attend the Athens Municipal Arts Commission and embraced the Essence of Athens mission which encourages art in the planning process.



My experience as a do-it-yourself documentarian in Athens has helped me see the diverse political and social perspectives in Athens. My video work has given me access to a wide social net in this community and it often has brought me to engage with different groups of people who otherwise might not associate with each other such as students at Ohio University or neighboring homesteaders who visit from adjacent towns. I have no prior experience in political office.

Q: What are the most important issues facing the city of Athens in the next two years?


The future of the Athens City Schools & the plight of our neighborhoods, is of paramount concern. Open dialogue and compromise is necessary, not one entity (City/School/OU) exists in a bubble solely separate of the others. Updating the Comprehensive Plan. Implementing sustainability practices and resiliency efforts will ensure that Athens is prepared for the future. Housing is an issue in Athens. Affordable housing for young professionals & recent graduates. Investing in housing for seniors.


The town's aging infrastructure such as the health of our water distribution system. As our weather climate becomes more extreme, the flood plain and our drinking water could be affected. The issue of the consolidation of Athens' elementary schools is also worth noting, as well as further real estate development. There is also the consistent issues of unemployment, the protection of our trees, Ohio University Students' Health, the success of local businesses & agricultural (food) initiatives.


Q: Given that state funds are constantly shrinking, how would you suggest prioritizing the budget? Would you consider raising local revenue and, if so, how would you propose to do that?




Local government continues to ebb and flow in response to the State. Consequently, there is more need to be proactive at the local level. Athens has been fairly successful in that endeavor. The City of Athens recently implemented two major initiatives to enhance local government. Citizens supported an increase to the City of Athens income tax. Additionally, citizens supported an Arts, Parks and Recreation levy which dedicated millions of dollars to enhancing major quality of life initiatives.



Taxes levied by legalizing marijuana locally would increase local revenue. Encouraging an honest city-wide dialogue about responsible/reasonable marijuana use would change public acceptance of legalized marijuana's place in the city's future.



 Athens- Ward 2 

  Athens -Ward 3  

 Athens Council Pres 


Candidate  (unopposed)    


Ward 2

Jeff Risner


Ward 3

Sam Crowl


Council President

Christine Knisely



Occupation, Training and Experience



West Elementary, Athens Middle School and Athens High School (1985) B.A. (English) Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin (1989) M.A. (International Affairs) Ohio University (1999)


BA, Ohio Wesleyan University. MA in Public Administration, Ohio University. 9 years service on Athens City Council, including having served as Chair of Finance/Personnel and Chair of Transportation; President of City Council since 2014. 13 years work experience with non-profit organizations. 15 years employed with Ohio University in College of Education and College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Q: What are your skills, talents and expertise that will help you contribute to the ongoing work of City Council?


I have two masters’ degrees (one in geology/hydrology and the other in information systems) plus 40 years of real world experience. I worked as a hydrologist, geologist, environmental scientist, computer systems analyst, college instructor, and consultant for private business and government. I have published scientific papers and written a book on telecommunications. My education and experience put me in a unique position to work through many of the problems that face the city of Athens.


In my current position with Ohio University’s Office of Sustainability my work with a wide segment of the campus community positions me well to closely consider the important symbiotic relationship between the City and University. In particular my experience working on design and construction projects as well as transportation issues has provided me with a background that will prove useful in contributing to the ongoing work of City Council


• Council member 2008-2014. • President of City Council 2014-2017. • Previous Chair of Finance and Personnel, and Transportation Committees. • Current Member of League of Women Voters; Past Officer of Athens League, Past Board member League of Women Voters of Ohio. • Athens County Leadership Program participant. • Past Leadership position in Research Office at the OU College of Osteopathic Medicine. • Past Participant in the Comprehensive Plans for Athens County (Land Use Plan) & Athens City.

Q: What are the most important issues facing the city of Athens in the next two years?



Athens is a city that is growing and will continue to grow both in the number of citizens and the geographic area it occupies. The geography dictates where growth can occur. I believe the direction is south and west toward Albany. We must prepare for it or lose more business and talent. The much infrastructure of the city is aging and needs to be replaced. This includes water, sewage, lighting, and streets. New infrastructure such as broadband Internet (wireless and cable) must be installed.


With a new director of Arts, Parks and Recreation and a new city pool under construction I feel that the support and direction of that department will be important in the coming years. The department already has an excellent and knowledgeable staff whose expertise will be the foundation of the department’s continued progress. I believe that smart growth and complete street policies will be issues that can assist the ongoing revitalization of our community.


Two related issues include leadership and cooperation to maintain our infrastructure (streets, water, sewer, bridges), and cooperating with other entities (primarily governmental and educational) to foster economic development for the Appalachian community. • Equally important is creating a community that fosters strong relationships with citizens throughout the city and county, state, nation, and world.

Q: Given that state funds are constantly shrinking, how would you suggest prioritizing the budget? Would you consider raising local revenue and, if so, how would you propose to do that?



About 50% of the city’s $35 million annual budget goes for wages and benefits for city employees. The other 50% goes for everything else. The critical systems of the city come first: Drinking water, sanitation, police department, fire department come first in that order. Fortunately our water department and sanitation are well financed by fees collected for the usage. Police and fire are financed mostly by the city income tax to the general fund.


Budget priorities are very difficult to determine without intimate knowledge of operations. I would appreciate chances to learn as much as possible about city operations, revenue and state funds projections, current city priorities and revenue streams before I can carefully consider suggestions towards establishing priorities.


Citizen safety is a critical responsibility. To provide this we need to preserve funds for City and Safety Services (police, fire, streets, water, sewer) and supporting staff. 74% of our general revenue funds are for personnel so this is our highest priority. But local government funds from the state have decreased nearly ½ million dollars. With fewer state dollars, the city proposed a .2% income tax levy that was approved & that will help protect funding for City and Safety Services.


The League of Women Voters of Athens County encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.


The League of Women Voters, an

issue-oriented organization;

does not support candidates or political parties


  • encourages informed and active participation in government,
  • works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and
  • influences public policy through eduation and advocacy.

Contact us by sending an email to athensleagueofwomenvoters@gmail.com or by contacting one of our officers/board members listed at left.


Board Meetings 4th Thursday of every month at Hocking Valley Bank meeting room at 6:30 p.m.  All are welcome. It would be helpful--but not mandatory!--for anyone planning to attend to let one of the co-presidents, Mary Costello, Ellsworth Holden, know that you will be there. Email contact information is at left.

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