Ask Me Anything

I’ve included an ask me anything section on my website because I think it’s a great way to have a two way conversation and because letting voters know what I think is the right thing to do. I know some people will disagree with some of my answers and that’s ok, because we can disagree respectfully and still find a way to move forward together as a community. I’m the only candidate willing to directly answer questions for the entire community to see.

As a West Chester resident for over 35 years, I try to always know the Candidates.  I looked at your website and was disappointed in the details. Business man?  In West Chester? How long have you been a resident?  What do you see as the key issues facing our township?  How would you handle them?  Just a few of the questions that I have.  I’m sure I am not alone.  Hopefully, between now and November we will know a little more about you.  Thanks, Rick Iannitti   

Hi Rick,
Thanks for the questions, and even more for the interest in local government. If it’s ok with you, I’ll also post my responses on my website under my “ask me anything” tab because you are right-if you’re curious, other people are as well.

My family and I have lived here for 5 years. After I left active duty in the Marine Corps and finished graduate school to earn my MBA, West Chester is where we moved and chose to become our home. It’s the first place I ever got to choose to live in my life. 

I work for myself now. A job with GE brought us here. I was laid off when COVID hit and started my own consulting practice where I help technology companies, usually startups, go from idea to product delivery. I work with clients mostly on the West Coast in Silicon Valley, but also in Boston, Austin, and a few other places around the United States.

The biggest issues I see-the first is a lack of actual fiscal conservatism on the board. The best example I have is that the current Trustees approved spending more than $2.3 million on landscaping for the Union Centre Interstate Exit-decorative stonework, metal towers, etc. That kind of money spent on an Interstate exit is not a good use of our tax dollars. Spending money on things like police and fire, road improvements and maintenance, and things that actually impact resident’s lives for the better-that’s where our money should go, not to vanity projects. 

The second is a lack of vision for the future. In the early 90’s, community leaders created a vision for the next 25 years of West Chester. That vision has largely been achieved, but there is no replacement vision or understanding of where to go next. I would create a commission, formed of residents and businesses of all backgrounds, to create a compelling vision for our future and give us a place to steer to, rather than coasting on the work done before. 


Currently West Chester has a perfect 60/40 mix of residential and business. More and more business have been attracted to West Chester because there is no income tax on wages. Seniors especially have been fooled that becoming a city would lower their taxes which is false. A city has to have a police and fire department, a health dept, legal division with courts and every road that is currently being maintained by Butler County would then become the citys problem. The cost to maintain Muhlhauser, Tylersville, CinDay and others would cost a fortune. If someone likes Mason so much, they should move there and pay their taxes. As for bike paths, even where sidewalks have been installed the bike people still ride in the street. In every blog post you have online you claim West Chester is a great safe place to live and work with great schools. Having said all this, what is it you think you can do better or change, especially from someone who has only lived here a few years. Bill Meyer, West Chester

Bill, thanks for the comments. I believe everyone’s views should be heard and considered and I’ll absolutely hear and consider yours as a Trustee.
 
To answer your question about what I can do better or change, the first thing I will do is bring a voice of real fiscal conservatism to the Board; a voice that is currently missing. As a fiscal conservative, I do not support spending $2.3 million to landscape the Union Center interstate exit. As a fiscal conservative, I do not support spending $350,000 to create a “pocket park” in Olde West Chester. Our current Trustees support both of these projects. Instead, we need to responsibly spend our tax dollars on services that keep us safe like our police and fire departments; on needed updates to infrastructure like our roads; and on projects that impact the lives of our residents in positive ways– not on vanity projects.
 
The second thing I will do is create a commission to outline a vision for the West Chester of 2040. Like Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else”. Committee members would be West Chester residents with a variety of backgrounds, ages, and interests, and their task would be to create a compelling vision for our community’s future much like the visionary plan created by some visionary community leaders almost 30 years ago. The plan they created is largely complete today. Once a new vision is put forth and agreed to by our broader community, I will work with the other Trustees to implement it in a fiscally responsible way.

Are you a Republican? Jim Fearing, Kings Gate West Chester

Hi Jim, and thanks for your question. This is a non-partisan race. Because I’m a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves, I am not seeking and will not accept partisan endorsements – legally I could, but ethically doing that wouldn’t sit right with me because I don’t believe military officers should be partisan candidates while still in uniform. That said, I am a registered Republican and lifelong conservative. 

Good luck in your effort to be Trustee! I’ve been on your website and there’s no information on your stance on local issues. Here are a few things I would like your input on, as silly as some may seem: Do you support West Chester becoming a city? What is your opinion on bike paths / connector from Mason to Fairfield? With which trustee, past or present do you feel you are most aligned with as far as township policy goes? Would you have done anything different in township response to COVID or the BLM rally that happened (where the trustees had an emergency vote to impose a curfew)? Thank you. Brian Hellard

West Chester has voted 3 times on whether to become a city: 1988, 1989, 1993, with voters choosing no by relatively small margins. Since we are now the largest township in Ohio and it’s been 30 years since the last vote, we should look at this again.  Whether it’s the right choice or not, I’m not sure but knowing what I know today I lean toward becoming a city especially when I compare us to Mason. Since it has been 30 years, I think voters should get another chance to see what their choice is by voting yes or no to answer the question for another generation because it’s up to voters, not me. 

Bike paths / connector: The township’s 2013 Lang / Wong / Stoker comprehensive land use plan (pgs 30-31 and Graphic 11) called for sidewalks, trails, and bike paths to tie into the larger Butler County network. Since then, very little has been done to fill the gaps in the existing network. There are fiscal tradeoffs for any choice, but there are state and federal programs intended to fund items like this. In general I’m in favor of creating a more walkable community. I see people using and enjoying the trails at Beckett and Muhlhauser Barn every time I drive by. Where those options exist in WC, people use them. 

Which trustee am I most aligned with? This is a non-partisan race and I’m running as a non-partisan (although I’ve been asked about my party affiliation-registered Republican). When it comes to making West Chester better, I’m willing to work with anyone where we can find common ground. I’m not aligned with anyone though as I’m not part of any existing network or grouping. My family and I chose to move here in the summer of 2016 and this is now our home so I want to make it an even better place than it is today. 

Curfew: One of my lessons learned in life is that it’s always good to give the benefit of the doubt to people making difficult decisions in times of stress with limited information. That said, I believe we as Americans have a right, duty, and obligation to make our voices known, and that applies regardless of whether I agree with the political positions espoused or not. Protests fall under that. Violence is never acceptable and property destruction is never acceptable (although the Boston Tea Party is a pretty good exception to that last one). Knowing what I know now I would not be in favor of a curfew, but I have the benefit of hindsight. I tend to think I wouldn’t have been in favor at the time, but without actually living it as one of the people responsible, I can’t say for sure.


I appreciate the questions and interest. For any other questions, you can call me at 513.341.5297 or email me at trent@trentfortrustee.com.

As a lifelong resident, coming from a family who owns and operates multiple small businesses in West Chester, if you became trustee what might be some ways you would support our small business community? Erin Day, West Chester

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers. As a recently minted entrepreneur who started my own small consulting business last year after getting laid off due to COVID, I’ve learned running a small business is challenging. I also know my challenges aren’t going to be everyone else’s, which is why I’d seek out and listen to input from businesses of all sizes, not just our largest employers. I know from talking to Joe Hinson about the great things the Chamber of Commerce does and resources it provides, but I also know that small businesses face unique challenges. The answer for a small manufacturing business is going to be different than from a small service business, but I think one common denominator is that West Chester can find ways to improve our efforts to shop local. I remember when the pandemic hit and how the community rallied to support local businesses through gift card purchases, takeout orders, and a multitude of other ways. Finding a way to tap into that pride and concern for our local businesses shouldn’t take a pandemic. If you have any specific suggestions for improvement or there are significant issues you and your family see, please let me know. You can call me at 513.341.5297 or email me at trent@trentfortrustee.com


Word on the street is that you want us to become a city? Is that true? If so fiscal conservative and wanting to become a city the two do not go hand in hand. I thank you for your service to our country but how long have you lived in West Chester? Do you realize that Mason’s has a city tax? Do you realize that even if you pay into another city you do not get full reciprocity? We have been the largest township in OHIO for a long time…if it isn’t broke why fix it? Why did you move here if you want us to be like Mason? They are right next-door, so why did you not move there? I applaud you for wanting to make a difference but I strongly suggest you serve our community in other ways like serving on the zoning board and many other community boards we have here. We have looked at the incorporation issue since 1993 and concluded we were better to stay a township and township law and funding mechanisms have had some changes since to 1993 vote. Mary Rogers, Hycrest Area

Hi Mary,
Thanks for the questions and concern about our community. After talking to hundreds of voters during my campaign, I’ve learned a significant percentage want to look at the issue of township versus city again. This is how I have answered it.


“West Chester voted 3 times on whether to become a city: 1988, 1989, 1993, with voters choosing no by relatively small margins. Since we are now the largest township in Ohio and it’s been 30 years since the last vote, we should look at this again. Whether it’s the right choice or not, I’m not sure but knowing what I know today I lean toward becoming a city especially when I compare us to Mason. Since it has been 30 years, I think voters should get another chance to see what their choice is by voting yes or no to answer the question for another generation because it’s up to voters, not me.“

I think it’s time to give voters the chance to decide what they want West Chester to look like over the next 30 years but I want to be clear: this decision is not for the Trustees to make-it is only for the voters of West Chester to decide. In a democracy, voters get to decide if the benefits and drawbacks are worth it.

I’m often asked, in one form or another, how after only 5 years in West Chester I feel like I know enough about our community to be elected to the Board of Trustees. It’s true my family and I aren’t from West Chester. I was born and raised in South Carolina and joined the Marine Corps in 2002. From 2002-2013, the Marine Corps stationed me in Virginia, Florida, California, and South Carolina, and deployed me to Iraq, Afghanistan, and twice to the Pacific. When I left active duty, I moved to New York to pursue my MBA and after graduation in 2016 moved to West Chester. That was the very first time my wife and I got to choose where we wanted to live, and we chose West Chester. West Chester is our home. We’ve put down roots and even though I haven’t yet lived here for 30 years, this is where I’m going to watch my sons grow into men.


The way I know enough about our community is because I have talked to hundreds of voters from all over West Chester and listened to their concerns about topics covering schools, roads, development, taxes, wasteful spending, police and fire support, parks, and many other issues. My role as Trustee is to listen to residents, understand how to translate those concerns into action to achieve our vision for the future of West Chester, while making fiscally responsible decisions to move us forward in order to improve and maintain the great community we call home.

I will bring a voice of true fiscal conservatism to the board. I know it’s time for West Chester as a community to decide what we want the next 20 years to look like-what kind of jobs do we want, how our community needs to evolve to meet the needs of residents, and what are the steps we need to take to get there. In the early 90’s a visionary group of community leaders created a vision for the West Chester of today. With that vision largely achieved, it’s time for us to step up today and create the same kind of effective and compelling vision for our future, rather than just resting on the laurels of those who came before us.

My question is, do you support Constitutional Carry for Ohio? John Rider, Quail Run Farms

Hi John,
Thanks for the question. I want to emphasize that this is something the Ohio State Legislature controls, not local government. There is nothing West Chester Township can do to affect the law in this regard. 

To answer your question-I think the current 8-hour training requirement before obtaining a concealed carry permit is reasonable. Ohio also has the same 8-hour requirement before obtaining a hunting license. I’ve had the privilege of lots of training with many different firearms during my Marine Corps career and always found it beneficial to learn from experts during my classes. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be as responsible as you and I would be, or has had the benefit of being raised around firearms. There are people who’ve never even heard of the weapons safety rules (I use the Marine Corps rules, not the NRA’s, although the core is the same). 1) Treat every weapon as if it were loaded 2) Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot 3) Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire 4) Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

I wish everyone was raised to know and appreciate the value of those rules, but that just isn’t the case and so I think a class where an instructor teaches those is a good backstop. For those reasons, I support the existing concealed carry law and not changing the law to Constitutional Carry.