MANSFIELD -- Two current elected city officials are both looking for a different seat on Nov. 5.
-- Phil Scott is prevented by term limits from running again for Mansfield City Council president.
-- 1st Ward Councilman David Falquette, first elected in 2017, now seeks to represent the entire city.
That means voters will have a choice of current leaders when they vote on the At-Large council seat being vacated by Democratic Mansfield mayoral candidate Don Bryant.
A Democrat, Scott, 64, 1996 Devonwood Road, has been president of council for 12 years and served 16 years before that as the elected Richland County Clerk of Courts.
He defeated political newcomer Joel Vega in the May primary, collecting 64 percent of the vote.
A Republican, Falquette, 59, 567 Birchlawn Blvd., has worked in the private sector his entire life. He sought public office for the first time in 2017 when he defeated John Harsh in the general election, earning 67 percent of the votes cast in the 1st Ward.
Falquette was unopposed in the May primary. If he wins in the general election, local Republicans will appoint his replacement in the 1st Ward.
Scott said he believes his experience in government qualifies him for the at-large seat, which pays $7,536 annually. Falquette sees it differently.
"I have been the private sector all my life and had to solve problems and contribute to the profitability of my employers," Falquette told Richland Source. "My opponent sees public service as an attribute.
"While all work is admirable, I challenge that since government work is not profit-driven, my opponent is more willing to tax and grow government. My interest in government is its necessity and I look to limit it to the smallest possible size," Falquette said.
Scott said his work in county and city government do make a difference.
"I have learned a lot about the city," said Scott. "I was kind of a county person (before becoming council president), but now after having been council president for 12 years, it's been a learning experience.
"Now I want to take that knowledge and experience and continue to serve as a councilman at -large," Scott said during a recent Richland County Democratic Party luncheon.
Scott, who said he has lived in the city most of his life, said Mansfield went into fiscal emergency in 2008 and that as council president he served on the state auditor's fiscal watch commission that helped guide the city back.
"We still have to watch," he said. "There are still sometimes when we spend too much money on things we shouldn't. But at least we're not in fiscal emergency now. It's always an ongoing process to make sure we don't go back, because it could very easily happen."
Falquette, who earned an associate's degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor's in business administration, said he currently works as a program manager for TE Connectivity.
He said his interest in local government began 12 years ago when he started a neighborhood watch group due to burglaries in his area.
"We worked with community policing officers to fix it. As time went on, more issues came up that involved other city departments. I was able to form relationships with the various department heads and address more issues. Many watch members had difficulty navigating city hall and I was able to get answers or guide them," Falquette said.
"As councilman, I have been helping people solve issues throughout the 1st Ward, but I am finding issues throughout the city and feel the At-Large position positions me to serve around the city," he said.
Falquette, who chairs council's economic development committee, said he thinks the city is poised for a business expansion.
"Mansfield is attracting business small and large because we have so much to offer, affordable living, retail and industrial areas. I want to help in a citywide capacity," he said.
Scott was elected council president in 2007, gaining re-election in 2011 and 2015. He topped Republican Michael Hill in the most recent race, receiving 54 percent of the vote.
"I have seen the city come a long way and I want to continue to serve the city. I feel I have a lot more to offer," Scott said.
Scott said he wants to see the dry dam at North Lake Park be constructed, which would "stop the flooding in the north end and to hopefully make economic growth possible in the area."
He also cited continued efforts to attract businesses to the city and "cleaning up our neighborhoods and make them more attractive for people wanting to move into the city."
Falquette said maintaining and upgrading the city's parks, updating building codes regulations and following the Mansfield Rising plan are three key issues.
"Council has approved over $150,000 for park upgrades at Maple Lake, North Lake and Prospect (parks). We have 32 more parks and more work to do.
"(Building) codes have not been updated in many years. We have many lots opening up all over time as a result of the many blighted buildings being removed. It's time to make way to build affordable housing and adjustments to codes may be required to make the desire change," Falquette said.
"In Mansfield Rising, several notable organizations invested in the citizens and community, not out-of-town consultants, to discover what greatness Mansfielders envision.
"Council is one part of the solution and as an At-Large councilperson, I want to be a part of the driving force to make all of Mansfield a great place to live, play and work," Falquette said.
(Monday: Three candidates seek to represent Mansfield's 4th Ward.)