Strongly Endorsed


Former Graduate Student Senate President Eddie Smith running for Athens township trustee

Bennett Leckrone / Slot Editor

After his loss last year in Ohio’s 94th District Democratic primary, former Graduate Student Senate President and Ohio University alumnus Eddie Smith said he was encouraged by local officials to continue pursuing his political career.


“I got a call from Charlie Adkins, one of the county commissioners,” Smith said. “He told me ‘Eddie, I really want to recommend you run for township trustee. You live out in The Plains.  You're a representative of the people who live out in the community trying to improve it.’ He was really motivating me to get out and run for it.”


Smith, who serves as the director of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, has been politically active in Athens for years.


“There needs to be an archive of all official activity of the town government, all the resolutions and all of the meeting minutes, so people can see exactly what their township government is doing for them.”– Eddie Smith

“He's been really active in supporting the local party, and also progressive candidates and Democratic candidates in Athens County,” Athens County Democratic Party Chairman John Haseley said of Smith. “I work closely with him, and I think he's a really good person and a really strong candidate.”


As president of OU's Graduate Student Senate, Smith was part of an effort to increase the amount of Athens Public Transit bus stops in The Plains from eight stops a day to 24 — something he says is still an issue for many residents of the community.


“A majority of residents in The Plains live in renter-occupied homes, and 29 percent of those people do not have access to a personal automobile,” Smith said.


With cycling being a popular option among people without access to vehicles, Smith said he’d consider working with the Ohio Department of Transportation, or ODOT, to put bike lanes on some county roads to increase access to bike paths that lead into Athens.


“Right now there's not a safe way for people to get to the bike path,” Smith said. “They have to bike on 45 (mph) roads.”


Smith said Athens Township has nearly five times the money to spend per mile of road in its road fund than Athens County. He said increasing transportation equity could help residents without cars get jobs.


“We are legally and budgetarily completely able to do this,” Smith said. “It's just a matter of if we have the will to do it.”


Sam Miller, vice president of the College Democrats of Ohio, at-large OU student senator and former president of OU College Democrats, endorsed Smith in a Facebook post, praising his complete streets policy.


“I already cast my vote for Eddie Smith but this just reinforces why he’s the best choice for township trustee,” Miller said in the post. “Complete Streets are important when thinking (about) the inclusivity and sustainability of our township.”


According to a certificate of estimated resources from the Athens County Auditor’s office, Athens Township has $2,179,916 in resources available to it, including $592,978 in its road and bridge fund, as of Jan. 24. Smith said ODOT also has grants available for communities that adopt “complete streets” policies by putting in bike lanes and increasing transportation equity.


Smith said he also wants to address crime in the unincorporated areas of Athens Township. He said there were roughly 77 burglaries in those areas in the past two years.


“The Athens County Sheriff’s Department is underfunded,” Smith said. ”They have 500 square miles of area to cover in this county ... and at any moment on the road they only have three deputies.”


Smith said Ohio law allows townships to pay police departments to put an extra deputy on patrol within its borders, something which he says should have been done four years ago.


Other issues Smith wants to address include community involvement and trustee visibility. Smith said the township's website is rarely updated, and township agendas and meeting minutes aren’t put online.


“If our township website was actually engaging and had useful content, news, events, (and) created a sense of community and talked about activities and events going on, people might want to visit it,” Smith said. “There needs to be an archive of all official activity of the town government, all the resolutions and all of the meeting minutes, so people can see exactly what their township government is doing for them.”


Smith is one of three candidates for Athens township trustee. The other candidates are Brian Baker and Steven H. Pierson.

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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