Two of the three Liberty Township Trustees in Delaware County are under fire from a group of local residents. Several thousand have signed petitions to try to remove Melanie Leneghan and Mike Gemperline from office. The petitions were delivered to Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge David Gormley on Tuesday.
NBC4’s Dan Pearlman stated in his report on the filing that Leneghan and Gemperline had proposed outsourcing fire and EMS (emergency medical services) to the county.
“After reviewing the complaint I feel so bad that so many people in our beautiful community have been duped by these lies. And I’m so disappointed that this group of people have created a circus in our community over Trustee Gemperline and me doing our job for the people of Liberty Township,” said Melanie Leneghan. “In my opinion, this is no more than a political stunt that will waste a lot of taxpayer time and money.”
“This is what started it all, Shyra’s [Eichhorn, another Trustee] Facebook post. She said ‘We are in jeopardy of losing Liberty Township-based EMS’,” said Trustee Mike Gemperline. “People in the township literally thought they were going to lose services, and that’s exactly what the media reported.”
“Months later [after the initial FB post], Shyra acknowledged the township would not lose EMS services, just possibly lose control over it since it would be county and not township EMS,” Gemperline stated. “She set off the fire alarm. She gave misleading information and I believe she intended the public to believe that we would lose EMS services completely.”
Last night at the Liberty Township Meeting, countywide EMS was discussed as a potential option to replace our current…
He continued, “She [Eichhorn] wanted to use that alarm to get people behind her. At this point, nothing about EMS had even been discussed at our township board meetings. Shyra started the fire, and it was intentionally set, and she kept throwing gas on it.”
‘Save Our Services‘ or SOS is the name of the group that is trying to oust Gemperline and Leneghan.
“One of the most discouraging things is that when I was at one of the special meetings, the opposition [SOS] drew a penis on my car window. So vile. The way I’ve been treated, the way Trustee Leneghan has been treated, this is why decent people don’t run for office,” shared Gemperline.
“The opponents, SOS, are the same group of people who fought for a 43% property tax increase for the fire department. That was defeated. Shyra is the ring leader of SOS. They claimed ‘People will die. Firefighters will be laid off. Services will be cut. Fire stations will be closed.’ None of this happened (when the levy was defeated). A few firefighters were temporarily laid off. Some chose not to return, but all were called back,” Gemperline said.
He also noted, “We saved the taxpayers $15 million by stopping a completely unnecessary property tax increase of 43%. How do I know it was unnecessary? The department is currently operating with a $6 million surplus.”
So what is the truth?
According to Trustee Gemperline, Liberty Township residents are currently paying sales tax for county EMS and property tax for township fire and EMS. He believes that paying both entities for one service, specifically EMS, is wrong and as a fiscal conservative, he would like to see Liberty residents pay once for the services they receive, not twice.
Gemperline thinks there’s a darker motive behind all this. Melanie Leneghan ran for Congress and lost in a ten-way Republican primary by less than 700 votes to Troy Balderson. The candidate who won former Congressman Pat Tiberi’s seat was endorsed by Tiberi, given the keys to Tiberi’s local office and many of Tiberi’s former staffers worked for Balderson during the primary run.
“The progressive Republicans here and many democrats want to destroy Melanie Leneghan and stop her from running for Congress again. The Establishment is afraid and they are doing everything they can to destroy her reputation and they don’t care how much they harm the township, their neighbors or their families.”
“My view of the fire department – they are heroes. Now some of them don’t always act that way, but the job they do, absolutely heroes. But I do not work for the fire department – I work for the residents of Liberty Township. I will do all I can to keep costs low, even lower if possible, and I will never reduce services,” Gemperline proclaimed.
The Ohio Star reached out to Trustee Shyra Eichhorn and was told to contact Save Our Services.
Ron Minto of Save Our Services did not respond to a request for comment from The Ohio Star.
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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star. Follow Beth on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mike Gemperline” by Mike Gemperline. Photo “Melanie Leneghan” by Melanie Leneghan. Background Photo “Delaware County Courthouse” by Bwsmith84. CC BY 3.0.