October 20, 2021
Pickerington Online’s Meet the Candidates
Most of the candidates running for Pickerington City Council have the essentially the same platform – more sidewalks, fewer new houses and a revitalized Olde Village. What sets incumbent Tony Barletta apart from the others is that he has 12 years of experience.
“I’ve served in many roles on our council and my favorite role is to stand up and say something when council is being led astray,” Barletta said. “I’m a logical thinker and a public servant. A political career is not my life’s goal. What I can do is serve honorably and recognize right from wrong and communicate it.”
The biggest issue Barletta sees for Pickerington is too much residential growth and not enough commercial.
“While the city has held its tax rates steady, the pressure on the schools from the city and Violet Township growth continues, resulting in another Tax levy request,” Barletta said.
The city of Pickerington’s new Comprehensive Plan addresses the problem by planning for medical growth along Refugee Road, and potential industrial development towards State Route 33 (mostly outside of city limits). “We’ll need to work jointly with the Township and Fairfield County to bring this to fruition. Long term it will build our tax base.”
“The challenge is following the plan,” Barletta said. “You need council people who will hold the administration accountable to follow the plan rather than just voting ‘yes’ to every proposal. While residential growth within the city has been quite heavy the last few years, it has been at a lower density than the original zoning on the land, resulting in fewer homes than there might have been.”
Another issue for Pickerington is the need to connect neighborhoods and the downtown with sidewalks and multiuse paths.
“A path was included with the Refugee Road expansion,” Barletta said. “We’ve got a new path going in along West Columbus Street next year which is paid for by a grant. We need to work on other paths along arterial roads so people can move about safely when jogging, biking or walking with their families.”
“I’m open to working jointly with Violet Township to develop more parks and walkways.”
“Better access will reinvigorate the Olde Village so it can become the center of the community it’s meant to be,” Barletta said. “We need to develop a more flexible zoning plan for the downtown, so property owners in the heart of the village can convert to commercial with less red tape,” Barletta said. “We should review our design standards so we can ensure the Olde Village maintains a certain look and feel.”
“We also need to improve our access to I-70 so commuters are not stuck in traffic every morning.”
“I’m happy to say the City Staff was successful in pitching the redesign of the I-70/256 interchange to ODOT. The project was awarded trac funding to begin the design process. The interchange at Rt33 and Pickerington Road also got funding. It will take years to complete but it’s a start.
He first became involved in local government not long after his family moved to the community.
“Pickerington was growing out of control,” Barletta said. “I got involved because I felt the old regime was unethical, self-serving and out of touch with what the people wanted. Three new council people and a mayor were elected in 2003 and that was my first involvement with a campaign. I run so I can assure we run an ethical, fiscally conservative government that supports small business and listens to the citizens.”
Barletta has an engineering background, which leads him “to look at issues logically and evaluate data when making a decision. I can work well with people because I’m a man of my word and can be trusted. What you see is what you get.”
What he likes about Pickerington is that it has retained the small town feel despite its growth.
“Retail businesses have moved in and you can get almost everything here including medical care,” Barletta said. “Columbus is close when you like the city, as are the Hocking Hills when you want the country. A lot of young families continue to make Pickerington home and it’s good to see.”
What are other people saying about Tony Barletta?
Chris Schweitzer, who served on city council with Barletta, said that “Tony is a passionate advocate for the truth, a voice of reason and thoughtfulness, and a representative who considers service as important to a person’s character as honesty and ethics.
Schweitzer said that Barletta is a good choice for council because he genuinely cares for others, has a service-first mentality and does his due diligence prior to making decisions.
“As a result, he is typically well-versed on issues, aware of the climate surrounding them, and understands the impact resulting from choices made,” Schweitzer said. “His attention is always ‘people first’ in order to provide the best options for those impacted the most. His genuine character and thoughtful mindset are a huge bonus for a public servant – particularly during these partisan times and in this hotbed of social concerns.”
Schweitzer said that Tony was always the person he would go to on city council to analyze issues and look deeper into them.
“He would often help me look at all sides, provide information I may not have already known, and typically give support – or respectful opposition – when considering topics,” Schweitzer said. “One memory I have was during a particularly difficult time in council when OhioHealth was considering pulling out from their arrangement to bring their campus to Pickerington. Tony encouraged me to continue a path of negotiation with them (despite an opposing political climate) and provided a lot of support (particularly moral support), to stay committed, and continue on despite heavy pressure against. The result can be seen very clearly in an amazing partnership with OhioHealth and promising plans for the future.”
“In my years on council, there were few people who would ‘tell it like it is’…Tony was one of them. And doing that with respect, ethics, and dignity are evidence of his character and strength,” Schweitzer said.
Pickerington resident and former school board member Lisa Reade has known Barletta for a while.
“Our boys went to Epiphany Preschool together then through Pickerington Schools, I’ve known Tony since our oldest was three years old, so 22 years!!” Reade said. “I always referred to Tony as ‘my favorite Democrat’ – I think at a local level we have similar values – responsible growth that is fiscally sound, good schools and keeping our community a great place to live.”
When considering what makes Barletta a good council person, “the thought that jumps immediately to mind is, ‘Tony is honest.’ He is willing to share information and work with people from other areas to not only get the job done but get it done thoughtfully considering all things that might impact his decision both now and in the future. He also remembers who he works for – the citizens of Pickerington – not a special interest. Tony is nobody’s ‘YES’ man – and that is a huge benefit to the citizens of Pickerington.
The Reade and Barletta families have grown close over the years. One time, Reade and Tony’s wife Tammy decided to build a float for the Pickerington Labor Day Parade with no experience.
“It quickly became an effort that our husbands enthusiastically participated in!” Reade said. “Always down to the wire but we had a lot of fun and produced several parade floats even winning first place one year.”
Who is Tony Barletta?
“I was raised in South Orange, New Jersey by Harry and Pat Barletta. Harry was a WWII vet and worked for the US Government in New York City, he passed in 2004. My mother, Pat, was a nurse before having a family, she died of cancer in 1975 when I was a teenager,” Barletta said.
He is the oldest of four siblings with his sister, Gina, and brother, Rob. They lost their youngest sister, Margaret, to cancer in 2018.
“I graduated from Columbia High School and then New Jersey Institute of Technology with a BS in mechanical engineering,” Barletta said. “I started working as an engineer for AT&T in 1984 in Montgomery, Illinois, manufacturing modems. In 1990, I transferred to North Carolina where we manufactured equipment for the US Navy and power equipment for undersea fiber optic cables.”
“Tammy, Jordan and I moved here in 1996 from North Carolina. Ryan was born about six months later. AT&T had split off Lucent Technologies and the Falcon Plant was shut down. I transferred to the Columbus Works and worked in wireless. My total employment with AT&T, Lucent, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia was 34 years, ending in 2019. I now work for Capsa Healthcare in Canal Winchester.”
Barletta has been married to his wife, Tammy, for 31 years. The family chose Pickerington because of the quality of the schools and proximity to his work.
“We have two sons, Jordan and Ryan, who graduated from Pickerington Central. Tammy works at Tussing Elementary as a paraprofessional, running the library,” he said.
In his free time, he enjoys playing golf with his sons and model railroading.
“The pandemic gave me an opportunity to work on my layout again.”
Barletta served for a long time as a food pantry volunteer, although he is no longer active.
“I have been on the food pantry board for 10+ years and continue to serve as the city’s representative,” he said. “I served as president of the board for five years.”
“When my kids were young, both Tammy and I were involved with Pack 256 and Troup 826 and we volunteered at the Violet Festival for several seasons. The boys played hockey at Easton and Jordan played for the Prowlers.”
“I ask for your vote on or before November 2nd.”
To learn more about Councilperson Tony Barletta, please visit his website at: tonybarletta.com.
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