Chad Kern couldn’t agree more that he’s being appointed to Archbold Village Council during a unique and challenging period.
But the 25-year village resident also agrees it’s a great time to help make a difference for local businesses suffering from the onslaught of the current health scare.
“This coronavirus…has really put us in a situation that’s going to be hard to get out of, money-wise,” he said. “I think this is going to be a struggle for a couple of years.”
One of three candidates for the Council seat, the 1989 Wauseon High School graduate was sworn in Monday to fill a position vacated March 16 by Drew Ginn, who left to pursue a career opportunity in South Carolina. Kern’s term will expire Dec. 31, 2021.
The vice president of Granite Industries, which manufactures steel products and portable hospital flooring, among other items, Kern, 48, understands first-hand how the coronavirus has affected local businesses. He was forced to lay off 55 of about 60 employees due to social distancing practices, although some are soon to be rehired.
“It was horrible,” he said. “I don’t know if people have really wakened to the effect (coronavirus) is going to have on us. Emotionally, financially, it’s going to have a major impact, and already has.”
As an example, he said, the Archbold Village Council meeting he was sworn in at on Monday was held at a facility in Ruihley Park to allow for greater space. Those who attended had their temperatures taken upon entering.
“Everything changes daily with this virus. I think we need to adjust to that, also,” Kern said. “We need to help the businesses. I think that’s a major priority.”
Because the village’s tax base will decrease due to business layoffs, a reduction in taxes, if possible, may be a good start, Kern said.
He also fears people won’t spend much money throughout the village out of fear. “Everybody’s tightening their belts, and that’s going to have a major effect on small businesses,” he said. “Smaller cash businesses will be lost in the village. I hope all of them make it but I don’t think they will.”
Village Council needs to begin addressing these issues immediately, Kern said, adding, “I think it’s going to be something we’ll have to spend a lot of time on. It’s on their mind, and it’s something we’re going to discuss. But it’s a work in progress for everybody. I think we’ve got a lot to learn about this.”
Although he’s never held public office before, Kern said he has always held a major interest in politics and local government. He said he brings no agenda with him, preferring initially to listen and learn.
“The Village of Archbold has been run really well, and has been extremely successful,” Kern said. “I don’t think you want to mess with the success, but a few tweaks could be made.”
He believes it’s important to continue holding Council meetings, even if it means adhering to health restrictions. “To have the meetings remotely – it’s just not the same,” he said.
Archbold Mayor Brad Grime said all three candidates were exceptional but Kern stood out to Council members.
“It was clear to them they made the best selection,” he said. “(Kern) was very knowledgeable of the issues the village has, and they liked his leadership qualities. He’s really sharp, and they felt he was a good fit to fill out the term. And I support their decision.”
Married, with two daughters, two stepdaughters, and four grandchildren, Kern said it’s likely he’ll run for his Council seat when the term expires next year.
“I have a big, vested interest in Archbold, business-wise and because of family,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.