Hillsboro City Council, at large


Editor’s note: All 12 candidates for Hillsboro City Council were contacted by The Times-Gazette and asked to provide some basic background information, along with answers to five specific questions, and an opportunity to make additional comments. Candidates were given no specific word limits, but were asked to avoid overly-lengthy answers.

Most candidates answered all the questions, but some did not. If information is missing it is because it was not provided despite multiple efforts, including the involvement of the respective party chairs, to give candidates the opportunity to answer all questions.

In some cases their responses have been edited for grammar, to make an answer clearer or for excessive length. Today we present the responses from the at-large candidates, with four candidates running for three seats, including Republican Party incumbent Tracy Aranyos, Republican Party incumbent Justin Harsha, Democratic Party candidate Brandon Leeth and Republican Party incumbent Ann Morris.


Age: 52

Family: One daughter, three grandchildren.

Party: Republican

Education, work and public office experience: 1983 graduate Anderson High School. Twenty years Ferno Washington Inc., assembly-manufacturing, international customer service, receptionist. Four years, four months Hillsboro City Council, chair of Zoning and Annexation Committee, also on Street and Safety Committee and Utilities Committee.

Q. In general, why are you seeking reelection to this office?

A. I am seeking reelection to city council so that I can complete current projects and also address issues such as our infrastructure/water/sewer lines that have been neglected for decades. I would like to leave the city better than I found it!

Q. Why are you a good choice for this office?

A. I feel that I am a good choice for this office because I am not afraid to make difficult decisions instead of popular ones. I am not doing this job to make a name for myself. I want to improve the city where I live for my family and my neighbors.

Q. What do you see as the top two or three issues facing the city of Hillsboro?

A. Maintain parks and the beautification of the city and streets. This will help attract business and people to live in and contribute to our city.

Q. Since council must work with the mayor, please share your own thoughts about Mayor Hastings.

A. Mayor Hastings has definitely improved our city by creating a fire district that has freed up the majority of the city’s budget so that we can work on streets, water/sewer lines, sidewalks, and improvements to parks. He has kept our city from going into a deficit with many exorbitant salaries. He has a lot of great ideas and thinks outside the box to try to move our city forward and not stay stagnant. He came in as an outsider and ruffled a lot of feathers with the “Friend Network,” but with good intentions. He fought a lot of opposition, lawsuits, his family life invaded, and he still is working hard every day to make our city prosper. I feel he has left our city better than he found it. That is why I want to help him and our city work together and make improvements.

Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of, either in public service, the private sector, or your personal life?

A. I am most proud of my family and consider it my greatest accomplishment. I also am very proud to serve on city council and do a small part of continuing on the improvement of our community and the future of Hillsboro.

Additional comments: I would like to thank the citizens of Hillsboro for the opportunity to serve on city council, and would very much appreciate your vote on Election Day!


Age: 42

Family: Wife: Alyssa Pennington Harsha. Children: Reed 14, Jenna 12.

Party: Republican

Education, work and public office experience: Associates Degree in Audio & Video Engineering. Twenty years, Harsha Monument Co. Fourth year council at large. President, Hillsboro Cemetery Association. Member, Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees. Manager of the Scott House for H.C.H.S. Co-chair, Festival of the Bells Committee.

Q. In general, why are you seeking reelection to this office?

A. Hillsboro has been home to my family dating back to 1854 when my great-great-great grandfather started the Harsha Monument Co. I continue to operate the family business as the 6th generation and take pride in our company’s history. Running for public office is my way of giving back to our community and it has been an honor to serve the last four years. Although my first term as a city council member hasn’t been what I expected, if re-elected, I look forward to helping our city grow and prosper , so that future generations would be happy to call Hillsboro their home. I have and will continue to listen and serve all citizens with an open mind. Thank you for your consideration.

Additional questions were not answered.


Age: 40

Family: Wife: Jocelyn. Children: Reagan (daughter), Jonah (son).

Party: Democrat

Education, work and public office experience: Hillsboro High School, Southern State, Class 3 wastewater treatment license. 3.5 years – The Henry P Thompson Company, process equipment sales for water and wastewater treatment plants, Ohio and Kentucky. Worked at the City of Hillsboro for 14 years prior to current employment. Over 10 years as the superintendent of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Q. In general, why are you seeking election to this office?

A. To be a voice for the citizens of this city. I will practice fairness and honesty and make sure every issue brought up will be dealt with full attention. Every decision made will be carefully thought through. I will do what’s in the best interest to move this city forward and will listen to all sides.

Q. Why are you a good choice for this office?

A. My experience with the city and knowing how the operations work. I’ve also seen hundreds of other municipalities and have gained knowledge about how they operate and can bring that knowledge to this city. And above all, I truly care about this city and all who call it home. I want to help.

Q. What do you see as the top two or three issues facing the city of Hillsboro?

A. We need to grow! We need good streets. We need to maintain and repair our infrastructure. We need to better maintain our parks so that people can enjoy them and get out more. We need to promote a good relationship between our government and citizens.

Q. Since council must work with the mayor, please share your own thoughts about Mayor Hastings.

A. I have heard both views on Mayor Hastings and have worked with him as well before. There are proper procedures that need to be followed in all government offices. Those procedures should be followed at all times. He has his own opinions on certain issues of course, but those comments should be carefully thought through before addressing social media. Every comment should promote a positive attitude and bring all people together, not separate.

Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of, either in public service, the private sector, or your personal life?

A. I’m most proud of my family. My wife and I are raising two wonderful children who care about everyone they meet. We’ve instilled in them love and respect and to treat everyone with acceptance.

Additional comments: I want to bring pride back to this city. I want to better this community and be a voice for all the citizens. I want to bring everyone together so we can work for the good for all. I’m excited to help and get to work!


Age: 58

Family: Husband: Robin L. Morris (married 40 years). Children: Rob Jr., Jo Sanborn, Amy Robinson.

Party: Republican

Education, work and public office experience: 1977 graduate of Lynchburg-Clay High School. Four years Hillsboro City Council; Property, Maintenance and Restoration Committee chair. Hillsboro Uptown Business Association, treasurer. Former Lynchburg-Clay School Board member. Downtown Redevelopment District Committee. Regularly attend zoning, planning commission and other committee meetings. Self-employed business owner for 30-plus years (construction and renovation). Owner, 24 Deli. Have taught church youth classes for 40 years, currently teach church youth group.

Q. In general, why are you seeking reelection to this office?

A. I’m seeking re-election for Hillsboro City Council to finish projects that have been started, and they will create great improvements in the city. We’re on the verge of several exciting ventures, and it would be a shame not to see them through.

Q. Why are you a good choice for this office?

A. Being an uptown business owner, I have an investment in the city, and a strong interest in the uptown area. It’s a joy to serve the people of Hillsboro, as well as Highland County, with Hillsboro being the county seat. It’s a wonderful part of Ohio, and has the potential to be so much better with all of the projects that are in the works. As with most cities, the uptown/ downtown areas are often the “face” of the city. It’s important to keep the uptown area alive, striving and moving forward. Creating second floor living and promoting walkability from one end of town to the other lends itself to a thriving and safe community.

Q. What do you see as the top two or three issues facing the city of Hillsboro?

A. Some of the top issues facing the city at this time are: 1: Creation of a Downtown Redevelopment District. Ohio has developed this plan to help revitalize downtown/uptown areas. It’s a fantastic opportunity to generate funds that can be used for facelifts, infrastructure, remodels, city lighting, and other hardscapes. 2: Joining the Paint Creek Fire District. Making the decision to join the fire district, and move forward as a city making the very best financial decisions. 3: The city has been moving in the right direction, cleaning up blight, taking care of streets, improving infrastructure, creating a completely new zoning system, having a strong planning commission, to name a few things. It takes a little while to complete any project on a scale as large as Hillsboro, but many things are the verge of completion at this time. Keeping a “forward thinking” council is imperative for continuity. We have been able to grow strong financially, and still create a better environment in the city. Sidewalks, paving, lighting, (some already completed) and that’s just the tip of the plans in store for the city.

Q. Since council must work with the mayor, please share your own thoughts about Mayor Hastings.

A. The Mayor is a forward thinking person and never lets an obstacle stop him from his objective. He’s always looking for a new way to advance the city. He has been faced with more “obstruction” than possibly any mayor in Hillsboro, most certainly more than any mayor in recent history. Do the Mayor and I agree about everything? Of course we do not. I don’t know many people who do agree about everything. Can I work well with the Mayor? Yes I can. We can talk over ideas and opportunities facing the city and come to agreements or compromises, whichever solution is the best.

Q. What accomplishments are you most proud of, either in public service, the private sector, or your personal life?

A. I’m very happy to say that a number of accomplishments are happening or have already happened while in office these past four years. Progress is being made to rid our city of blight, and blighted properties. The aesthetics of the city are improving, and plans are in the works to continue those. We’ve had to acquire the Colony Theatre, and are working toward a small uptown pocket park in that space. Plans are in motion to help Mr. Cumberland create a youth center, and we’re working toward a skate park and bike park. We have already completed the dog park at Liberty Park, funded completely by grants and public contributions. Another time-consuming project has been updating the antiquated zoning in the city. This should be finished by the end of 2017, and will be an awesome benefit as the city moves forward. Those projects have been near and dear to what I’ve been most involved with and most interested in while on council. We have several more things in the works, and I hope to have the opportunity to complete them.

Additional comments: I would very much appreciate your vote this election, as I have truly enjoyed serving the citizens of Hillsboro. A second term would allow me the time to finish projects, as well as see new ideas and ventures come into play. Remember to vote! It’s a privilege!

Tracy Aranyos
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/10/web1_city-candidate-aranyos.jpgTracy Aranyos

Justin Harsha
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/10/web1_city-candidate-Harsha.jpgJustin Harsha

Brandon Leeth
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/10/web1_city-candidate-Leeth.jpgBrandon Leeth

Ann Morris
http://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2017/10/web1_city-candidate-Morris.jpgAnn Morris


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