Focht appointed to council

Rich Focht was appointed to the open 4th Ward Tiffin City Council seat by the Seneca County Republican Central Committee Saturday. The seat was vacated by Rich Cline, who was elected to council president during the November election.

Focht received seven of the possible 11 votes of the voting committee members present.

During a meeting Saturday morning, Focht spoke about his experience, including working under Tiffin Mayor David Martien as city administrator.

“There were some unique things that we did,” he said. “I thought that (Martien) did a great job at changing the dialogue and the way that we look at ourselves in this community.”

He listed several projects he was proud of during his time as administrator, including changes in the negotiation of union contracts.

Focht also cited his 24 years as president and CEO of Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. as a reason he wanted to become a councilman.

Focht said if appointed to council, he was interested in grants that would improve the community in the long term.

“I’m not interested in grants that are … going to support hiring new police and fire because at the end of the day, if you don’t have a way to pay for them after the grants expire, how do you accomplish that?” he said.

He also said council had the responsibility to look at grants and determine which would promote economic growth.

“I think that one of the responsibilities of government is to ensure that we’re doing everything in our capabilities to ensure that we’re creating economic opportunities and a level playing field for economic growth. That’s our job,” he said.

Focht said the city invested $160,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds into a $6.2 million investment in the downtown at the former Shawhan Hotel, which led to more than 60 jobs at Elmwood at the Shawhan.

Central committee member Jim Green asked Focht what his stance was on using individuals’ private property for economic growth.

“I’m not interested in going out and picking fights with people or do things that people don’t want us to do, but I am interested in doing everything that we can to stimulate economic growth in our community,” Focht said. “If we don’t have economic growth, we’re all dead in the water. If we’re not doing the things that we need to do to expand those opportunities locally and around the state, then shame on us.”

He said he wanted the position of councilman to help support new president and CEO of SIEDC, David Zak.

“I just want to see that we move in the same positive direction that we’ve been moving here and I want to be a part of that,” he said.

Focht said as councilman he would urge council to meet at the beginning of every year to discuss a list of projects so council could work on getting them completed. He said he would also want to encourage businesses in the city.

“Last year, we had the best year we had in the 24 years I’ve been with SIEDC,” he said. “We had 11 manufacturers that expanded last year. We had 25 new retail businesses that were created last year.”

He said more companies are planning to expand this year.

“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure we don’t stifle that growth,” he said.

Mark Pardi and Ryan Somers also sought the appointment. Pardi received three votes and Somers had one.

The committee discussed the appointment of a public official under executive session. They also discussed laws regarding Ohio Revised Code and the ability to conduct a secret ballot vote in a public session. The committee decided to discuss the issue at a later meeting.