October 27, 2021
Pickerington Online’s Meet the Candidates
Lori Sanders, candidate for Violet Township trustee, believes that “the biggest issue facing our community is that we don’t have a clear picture of the direction we want to head.”
Currently serving her 24th year on the Pickerington school board, Sanders said that she does not want to second-guess the choices of past elected officials who made what they believed to be the best decisions at the time with the information they had.
“I have been there myself, so I don’t second-guess past decisions,” Sanders said. “However, we do need to look forward and determine what our community wants to look like. What is our vision? Once we establish our long-term plan, we will decide what it takes to get there and our goals on timing. Sounds simple, but it is a significant undertaking. This is the job of an elected official.”
Sanders serves on the Violet Township Steering Committee, which is currently creating a comprehensive development plan based on the results of a community survey and input from township stakeholders. The city of Pickerington unveiled a similar plan last spring.
“It is critical that we develop long term plans with clear objectives to reach our vision,” Sanders said. “Our plan must build some flexibility for the unknown; that is typically in the developed timeline. And just like any community plan, it is not my or any one group of people that develop that plan. We have to involve our community and truly understand what our people want so that we have future support to move forward.”
Multiple organizations, both government and private, make decisions that impact the development of Violet Township.
“Just like any effective planning, we have to build good working relationships with those entities,” Sanders said. “As a school board member, I have worked hard to do that over the years, understanding the potential impact of diversifying our tax base. Many people instinctively work in silos. We have to work together to get things done. I think we will easily move in that direction.”
The township needs to identify and collaborate regularly with stakeholders who represent all of the other entities in the community, then the township needs to finish gathering public input to establish what the community wants, Sanders said.
“We need to approve a comprehensive plan for our community with balance – balance in our residential, commercial, parks, and preserved land,” Sanders said. “We need updated, efficient, and sufficient infrastructure including roads, bridges, interchanges, sidewalks, bike paths, and technological access. Our police, fire, and senior citizen services also have to be supported. We need balance.”
Sanders believes that her leadership and people skills will support the township’s efforts to create and implement a successful long-term plan.
“I am realistic in knowing that we have years of work ahead of us, typically due to financial constraints,” Sanders said. “We all have to be working toward the same goal.”
Sanders knows her responsibility as an elected official is to represent what the majority of people want from their community.
“Public officials may have a lot of ideas, but without the support of the community, we remain stagnant,” Sanders said. “Financial oversight is a primary responsibility that requires a conservative spending approach, so efficiency is important, and I have a lot of experience in this area.”
As a “relationship builder”, Sanders often finds herself in the role of building consensus.
“Being a flexible person is necessary to achieve what everyone is ultimately hoping for,” Sanders said. “I plan well, work hard, and follow through with any project that is within my power to complete. This characteristic will continue on in the role of a township trustee.”
Sanders has been endorsed by both the Violet Residents for Responsible Development and the Pickerington Education Association (the teacher’s union) as well as many local leaders including members of Pickerington city council, the PLSD Board and Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray. A complete list can be found on her campaign’s website: lorisandersforviolet.com.
Fairfield County Commissioner Jeff Fix endorses Sanders because with her there is “no BS”.
“She doesn’t worry too much about being politically correct, she’s going to say and do what’s right regardless of political pressure,” Fix said. “She welcomes questions and debate and when you disagree with her, she’ll fully explain why she thinks her opinion is the right one (and it almost always is).”
Fix explained that Sanders had “navigated some really difficult issues” during her time on the school board and she consistently oversaw the district’s high rankings
“The township is in need of strong leadership, and I am confident that Lori will provide that,” Fix said.
Sanders said that to be an effective leader, a person must have a variety of characteristics.
“Personally, I am a highly organized individual who is good at multi-tasking,” Sanders said. “My background of building effective professional and personal relationships will be critical to accomplishing our community’s goals. This requires strong communication skills and being respectful of others; I strive to treat every person the way I would expect to be treated. I listen to others, always take an honest straightforward approach to problem solving and fundamentally believe that if we work hard enough, we will find answers. To me this defines a true public servant.”
Community members need to know that the township has a long-term vision and how that vision fits in with our community as a whole.
“I can’t emphasize enough that we are here to represent you and do what the majority of the community wishes,” Sanders said. “By voting for a candidate, you are choosing someone that you believe can carry out the vision that most people have for our community. I am that candidate. Leadership and 24 years as a public official bring a wealth of experience.”
Who is Lori Sanders?
“I grew up in a military family and moved eight times (including two European countries) before we landed in Central Ohio in 1972,” Sanders said. “Given the military transfer, we lived in Groveport, where I graduated in 1979. My parents are both from Eastern Ohio, Belmont County; at the time, it was primarily a coal mining region.”
Sanders is the second of four children.
“My parents and one brother are also Fairfield County residents,” she said. “I have a sister in Central Ohio and a brother in New York. Our family is growing with an already large extended family. We are so lucky to have most of them near us.”
Upon graduation from the Ohio State University and after a short period living in Pittsburgh, Sanders and her husband, Mike, moved to Pickerington in 1986.
“We have loved being residents here for 35 years,” she said. We had a two-year-old at the time and, after researching communities and schools, chose Pickerington. We are Summerfield residents. This suburb offered a great community feeling with excellent schools and a lot of potential. It was a great place to raise a family. The proximity to Columbus was a plus, but it was far enough away from city congestion. In 1986, Pickerington was at the beginning of the growth curve.”
Although there are many things to love about the community, Sanders said it was the people that make the area special.
“People may differ in opinions and approaches, but we generally have nice people in our community,” Sanders said. “This is really evident if you travel at all around the county or even the region. I like that people care about our community, and I also like that people typically move here for the schools, so they place a high priority on their children, education, and the future. People are what make a community.”
The couple’s three children graduated from Pickerington in the classes of 2001, 2005, and 2010.
“Our oldest, Ashley, lives in California with her family including one of our grandsons,” Sanders said. “Our son, Matt, lives and works in central Ohio. Our youngest daughter, Audrey, and her son live in Pickerington. Most people know her as a volleyball coach. She works a lot with our club youth programs, which are primarily Pickerington students.”
“My husband, Mike, has the most unique community involvement,” Sanders said. “After many years of coaching youth sports and supporting all of our school programs, he committed to being on the “chains” for the “new” school in 2003. So, 18 years later, you can still find him on the sidelines at North on Friday nights when they play at home. And yes, they take their job seriously!”
Most of Sanders’ professional time is spent running a small business that provides occupational therapy services.
“Since most of my non-employment time is spent with the school board, education foundation, and other charitable organizations, I would classify those as my interests that I treat like jobs,” she said. “My single most enjoyable activities revolve around my family, specifically my two grandsons. I also like to walk and read. We have had yorkies for a long time. We lost our 16 year-old yorkie, Jack, over a year ago, but we are so happy to still have our 11 year-old yorkie, Willy.”
In addition to her long tenure serving on the school board, community members may recognize Sanders for her involvement in other local groups.
“I have operated a small volleyball club for the past 15 years, so I have met many new people while offering that service to the community,” Sanders said. “I am currently the president of the Pickerington Education Foundation, a non-profit that raises grant money for our classrooms and buildings in the district.”
Currently, she also volunteers as part of 100+ Women Who Care (a group which supports non-profit organizations in our area), and the Pickerington Food Pantry committee that plans the annual gala to raise funds.
“Over the years, I have been involved in all school level organization such as PTOs, levy committees, etc., and I served on several PYAA boards in the past,” Sanders said. “I am a chamber member, but due to my current schedule it is difficult to get to a lot of the events.”
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