GRANVILLE — It has been 12 years since the village has had a contested mayoral race.
“It was in 2007 with Jay Niles,” said village Clerk Richard H. Roberts.
Mayor Brian LaRose, who is stepping down after two four-year terms, ran unopposed both times.
On Tuesday, village voters will decide between independent candidates Paul Labas, currently a village trustee, and Robert Tatko, the former treasurer and a trustee for the Pember Library and Museum in Granville.
In a candidates’ forum at Granville High School this week, Labas and Tatko talked about the community they love, with each saying he wants to move the village forward.
But each has a different view on how to get there.
Labas, 52, a trustee for eight years who owns several local businesses, including Pearl Street Slate Co. and Dry Town Hops Co., was born and raised in Granville and said he knows every aspect of the village.
“This is a very tight-knit community,” Labas said in an interview on Wednesday while praising village leaders and department heads. “We have some of the best department heads.”
Talking about cultural changes and Main Street, Labas said it is important to bring businesses back to the downtown area. He referenced the history of the demise of mom-and-pop stores and then the end of box stores like Kmart.
“Our team has been moving forward on bringing in new businesses,” he said about the current Village Board. “There are 12 new businesses. The Slate Town Brewing Company just opened and they have really done well … there’s even a new church on Main Street.”
Labas envisions an eclectic downtown with small unique shops, a bookstore and coffee shops, and he credits an already welcoming community and strong leader and volunteer efforts with the village’s current growth.
“Five years ago, we had 32 abandoned homes and now there are less than 10,” Labas said. “That’s a real step forward from when I first came to the board.”
Tatko agrees that Main Street needs an infusion of business, but the way to make that happen is by first bringing a trade school to Main Street, to create an anchor for the street, he said.
“Once you have an anchor, like the school, people would be coming to Main Street,” he said, adding that the other businesses would naturally follow.
But Tatko is focusing his campaign on the village’s finances.
“A number of people said to me, you fixed the Pember, now you have to fix the village,” he said in a Thursday interview. “I already have a proven record on Main Street with the Pember.”
Tatko said he believes the village investment strategies are weak.
“All I’m doing is making an honest attempt to right the village’s fiscal condition,” he said, referencing online budgets he has been exploring.
Touting his grant-writing skills, Tatko said, as a full-time mayor he would competitively bid every line item on the budget, write his own grants and network with other villages to develop cooperative agreements.
Three for two
In the trustees race, three candidates are vying for two seats.
Incumbent Dean Hyatt, 55, who has been on the board for 12 years, is seeking a fifth term, and Heather Pauquette, 36, and Martin John Harney, 57, are challenging for a seat.
All three see the importance of bringing life to Main Street.
“Granville is growing, we are becoming a hub,” said Hyatt, who stresses the importance of a 2 percent permanent tax cap and multi-year budgeting.
Harney, who owns Harney’s Lawn Service in Granville, said that as a trustee, he would bring a fresh set of eyes to the board.
“Let’s get business back and let’s get Granville back,” he said.
Nonetheless, while it’s important to bring businesses into downtown, Harney said, it’s also important for the community to support the local businesses and to first clean up the downtown.
“I suggest we have the kids in art classes draw on the windows and make it presentable, and kids love to draw,” he said.
While collecting ballots, Harney spent sometimes more than an hour talking and listening to people, and he would continue that as trustee, he said.
“Some of the things I would like to see done were echoed by 50 to 60 percent of the people who signed the petition.”
Pauquette, who headed the successful Tractor Parade for the past two years, said the parade drew 7,000 people from as far as an hour away to the village. She credits social media and a flawless first year for the second year’s success.
“As a trustee, one of my goals is to lift the morale in the village residents and to let them know what’s already here,” she said.
Pauquette, who has been working with others to get out the vote on Tuesday, said she would “love to see a record turnout.”
“This is a good-feeling community,” said mayoral candidate Labas. “We might not have a lot, but we have each other and people are moving in from other locations. I am proud and humbled to be part of the community.”
Voting runs from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Village Municipal Building.