Nine candidates — including two incumbents — are running for four open seats on Oxford city council, making 2017 Oxford’s most competitive city council race in recent history.
The two incumbents (Edna Southard and Mike Smith) were elected in 2013. The other candidates are Drew Davis, Chantel Raghu, Jace Prows, David Prytherch, Sarah Vogel, Corey Watt and Austin Worrell. All are running to serve a four-year term in the city’s local municipal government.
Worrell is the most unconventional of the candidates. He is a current Miami student majoring in political science with a minor in business legal studies.
The candidates had an opportunity to share their campaign platforms during a debate hosted by The Miami Student on Oct. 18 in the Armstrong Student Center’s Wilks Auditorium. Footage from the debate can be found at miamistudent.net.
There, the contenders discussed several hot-button issues facing Oxford.
Candidates frequently asserted the need for the whole community – students, Miami staff and Oxford residents – to “come together” to solve the issues plaguing Oxford, particularly with respect to the prevalence of high-risk drinking at Miami.
Raghu and Prows reminded the audience that Miami’s drinking culture is not unique, and that binge drinking is a problem on the national level. Prows was particularly adamant that Miami students should not be blamed for a problem not unique to them. He stated that the idea of withholding diplomas for alcohol violations is “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Another major theme of the debate was town-gown relations. Smith emphasized the need to facilitate communication between the university and the town, while Southard claimed that much of student involvement in Oxford life goes unnoticed.
Also discussed at the debate were Oxford’s zoning laws. Raghu criticized the laws as “hyper-regulatory” and Watt cited his own experience where he was disallowed from adding a decorative gable to his roof because of “illogical” zoning laws.
The generally-cordial election was marked with one major point of contention: Accusations of collusion between two “slates” of candidates caused a stir in online and in-person discussion. The two alleged blocs (Worrell, Davis, Prows and Vogel in one, with Prytherch, Raghu, Smith and Southard in the other) were claimed to have worked together in a nonpartisan race.
The Student reported that each bloc categorically denied collusion, but that each had received common aid — both financial and logistical support — for running their campaigns.
City of Oxford residents have other items on their ballots besides city council: Oxford Township trustee and fiscal officer, Talawanda City School Board, two state-wide issues and one Butler County tax levy.
Polls are open today, Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registered voters can vote with any form of government-issued identification, or other proofs of residency (including a utility bill, credit card statement or speeding ticket).