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Republican opponents for Dover mayor answer questions about controversies

| April 14, 2023
Candidates for public office in Dover prepare to talk with guests at the League of Women Voters event at the Tuscarawas County Senior Center April 10. (Photo courtesy of the League of Women Voters)

DOVER (WJER) (April 13, 2023) – Twelve candidates for elected positions in Dover met with residents Monday at the first meet-the-candidates night presented by the new League of Women Voters chapter in Tuscarawas County. The event drew a small crowd, mostly populated with family members or supporters of the candidates.

Participants included Mayor Shane Gunnoe.

I’m running for mayor because I want to make Dover a little better place to live, work, and raise a family.

And his challenger in the May 2nd Republican primary Nick Homrighausen.

I’m running for mayor because I believe the current administration is squandering our potential for economic growth.

Democratic mayoral candidate Colby Byrom attended. He is unopposed in the May primary.

Democratic contenders for law director – incumbent Doug O’Meara and challenger Gina Space – attended, as did Republican contenders for City Council President – incumbent Justin Perkowski and challenger Zachary Wallick. Other attendees were Council incumbents Greg Bair, Kevin Korns, Sandy Moss, and Bob Mueller, and challenger Nathan Johnson.

Guests met with them in one-on-one or small group conversations.

Challenger Nick Homrighausen

WJER’s Bill Hammerstrom spoke with the mayoral candidates in the May 2 Republican primary at Monday’s event.

Nick Homrighausen is challenging Mayor Shane Gunnoe for the city’s top office.

Gunnoe was among the officials who supported a 2021 investigation into then mayor Richard Homrighausen, Nick’s father. A jury ultimately found the elder Homrighausen guilty of theft in office, disqualifying him from the mayor’s post last year. The city is suing him for the salary he received during the final months of tenure when he was suspended.

Nick Homrighausen said he’s not going to talk about legal matters.

I’m not going to answer any of those questions involving anything legal, period.

Homrighausen also faced controversies in Harrison County, where he is the executive director for the Community Improvement Corporation. County Commissioners there called for his firing last year and cut off funding to the CIC when its board did not remove Homrighausen. Homrighausen also did not want to answer questions involving the specifics of that situation.

I’m not going to go into any specifics on employment matters that can be construed as legal.

Homrighausen touted his experience securing economic development projects in Harrison County.

I’m the only candidate in this race with the diverse background in economic development to help plan for a future vision of Dover.

He accused the current Dover administration of mismanaging the city’s electric power plant.

I’m the only candidate that knows how to keep our city-owned power plant running. I have a diverse background working with American Municipal Power for over 7 ½ years.

Homrighausen is also critical of what he called “skyrocketing” city spending on outside legal services for investigating his father, defending itself in four lawsuits filed by the former mayor, and defending itself against and countersuing Dover Chemical over an electric surcharge.

Incumbent Mayor Shane Gunnoe

Dover’s recently appointed mayor addressed criticism of his administration at Monday’s League of Women Voters’ meet-the-candidates event. Shane Gunnoe went from interim mayor to official mayor in February after an appointment by the Tuscarawas County Republican Central Committee.

Political opponents accuse Gunnoe and other city officials of driving Dover Chemical, one of the city’s biggest electric customers, to seek an alternative power provider.

I would completely reject that. On multiple occasions I have requested and I have attempted to sit down and discuss the situation with Dover Chemical. That has not occurred. The city continues to be willing to sit down and negotiate a settlement to the situation, but it has to be one that’s fair to Dover residents.

Dover Chemical sued Dover in 2021 over a surcharge the city added to its bill. The city countersued last year, accusing the company of wrongfully obtaining free electric services for years. A bench trial is scheduled for January. Gunnoe defended the city’s spending on outside legal services in that case.

The city of Dover is the defendant in that case, so we have an obligation, again, coming back to protect our residents.

He also defended paying outside legal services on an investigation into former mayor Richard Homrighausen, which ultimately led to the former mayor’s conviction for theft in office and a ban from public service.

The investigation, while costly, was certainly something that I hope will end up being a long-term benefit to the city to ensure that the things we found in that report can’t occur ever again.

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