Friday, August 23, 2019
By Ed Runyan
Michael Hovis, former Bazetta Township police chief, is choosing his words carefully in his bid to unseat his brother, Paul Hovis, for township trustee, criticizing the present administration but not naming his brother.
“It’s a very sensitive line,” Michael Hovis said of trying to improve the community while avoiding controversy. But Hovis said his six years as chief until late last year and 25 years as a Bazetta police officer have given him experience in how to walk a fine line.
He said on his Facebook page he would not post campaign signs in his yard or give out signs to his supporters because it would be divisive. He now says he will make a limited number of signs through his family printing business.
But he says he won’t shy away from pointing out that the present board of trustees “gets nothing done.”
For example, he said the trustees received a $110,000 insurance check in February to pay for damage caused by a freak January tornado, but the tombstones that were damaged are not fixed, and the storage building that was destroyed has not been replaced.
“The roads are terrible. The ditches are terrible,” he added.
He announced on Facebook in May he would run against his brother. There is no primary for trustee positions.
“My concern for our community is unselfish and dedicated. We need a change. We have to be dedicated to our citizens and also create a transparent and accountable government,” he said. He’s running for the only Bazetta trustee position being voted on in this election. Bob McBride is also running.
Stephanie Penrose, Trumbull Board of Elections director, said it’s the first time she’s aware of in her time at the elections board that siblings have run against each other in an election, though there are plenty of examples of multiple people from one family being involved in politics, such as the Cantalamessa brothers, Mauro and Enzo.
Michael Hovis explained on Facebook he “never intended to run against my sibling. We spoke face to face about this decision, and I had his full support. He was not going to run in this election.”
When he was asked about the race, Paul Hovis said medical problems in recent years caused him to initially decline to run. He changed his mind later.
Paul Hovis said there are no “family issues” between the two of them, and they are not terribly competitive with each other. Paul even signed Michael’s campaign petitions. “If he beats me, God bless him,” Paul said. “He does his thing. I do my thing.”
Michael Hovis’ Facebook page remarks talk a lot about his time as police chief.
“My accomplishments at Bazetta while being employed have always been to provide our residents with the utmost safety while also being financially sound with your tax dollars,” he said. Michael Hovis is also a veteran of the Persian Gulf War.
The Paul Hovis portion of the township trustees website says he has “been a member of the Optimist Club for 12 years, serving on the board for 10 years and as president for six years. He has been coaching [Lakeview Athletic Club] baseball for 21 years and served as the vice president of the Lakeview Little Bulldogs for 2 years.
“He is so devoted to Bazetta Township that he chose to open a business here. Hovis Tire on Elm Road was opened seven years ago because Trustee Hovis wanted his hard earned tax dollars to be used in the community where he could see them,” the biography says.
In April, Paul Hovis was ordered to pay $483 in back sewage fees and a $55 fine for an improper sewer connection he made from his house to a barn he built behind it. Medical issues were a reason the incident happened, he said.
Paul is the older brother at age 55. Michael is 51.