Longtime Huber Heights official and current Mayor Ron Fisher said the city is taking positive steps to be a leader in the region. But his opponent in November’s mayoral race, Tom McMasters, says city leaders are not transparent enough when they plan multimillion-dollar projects.
Fisher and McMasters will go head-to-head on the Nov. 5 ballot, with the right to lead the city of Huber Heights — the third largest suburb in the region with a population of more than 38,000 residents.
Fisher, 65, has been mayor since November 2008, and served as vice mayor in 1988 and 2008. He also was on council from 1986-89 and 2004-08, according to his bio on the city’s website.
“I feel pretty good about the election,” said Fisher, a real estate broker with Fisher & Associates Realty. “Everything is really positive for Huber Heights right now. We’re doing as well as any community. Everything is on a positive note.”
Fisher pointed to the success of the Carriage Trails housing development, the $7.5 million Kroger Aquatic Center at The Heights and the $18 million music center project as recent examples of the city’s success in generating positive headlines.
“I know I have the best interests of the city in mind,” Fisher said. “But anybody can be beat. I am not overconfident.”
McMasters, 51, retired from the Air Force in 2009 and works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a support contractor. A Huber Heights resident since 2006, McMasters ran for the Ward 6 council seat in 2011 and lost to Ed Lyons.
McMasters has distributed approximately 1,500 fliers — including 200 to 300 in person going door-to-door — and said about 1 out of every 15 people he talks to knows he’s running for mayor.
“I’m not sure how optimistic I should be,” he said. “But after I talk to people, I’m real optimistic when I leave because I think I’ve got converts.”
McMasters contends that the city should have been more open with the public about the aquatic center and music center projects. He cited the lack of information passed out at public committee meetings before city council voted on the issues.
“The aquatic center is going to be a strain on the budget,” McMasters said. “They don’t realize the financial impact of that.”
Fisher refuted McMasters’ claim that the city is not as open as it should be with the public, noting that discussions regularly occur during committee meetings and it is against the law to take action in executive session.
“Whenever we can, we try to be united and strong on our votes,” Fisher said. “There is transparency.”
While city leaders have shown no indication that a levy for additional money will be on the ballot in 2014, McMasters said council should look at that option rather than possibly reducing the income tax credit, which can be done legislatively.
The city’s income tax rate is 2 percent and the city offers full credit if residents work outside Huber Heights.
“It’d be backhanded to try that kind of thing,” McMasters said. “Let the people decide.”
A concern Fisher has moving forward is the state of the Huber Heights school district, which is seeking voters’ approval of a 5.95-mill continuous operating levy on Nov. 5 after four straight levy defeats.
“Good schools and good cities go hand-in-hand,” Fisher said.
If he is re-elected to another four-year term, Fisher said he would not seek another term in 2017.
“I want the best for Huber Heights,” said Fisher, who’s lived in the city for 55 years. “I’ll die somewhere here in Huber Heights.”