Cushman running for nomination

SALEM – Salem City Council-At-Large appointee Jeff Cushman said he’s running for the Republican nomination in the May primary for election to a four-year term after serving more than a year of an unexpired term which ends Dec. 31.

The 50-year-old owner of Barclay Machine Inc on South Broadway Avenue said he decided to seek a full term because “I believe I have a voice of reason and common sense. I’m excited about the opportunities Salem has.”

Cushman was previously elected to the Salem City Board of Education in 2009 and served two years of a four-year term before being tapped in December 2011 to serve the remainder of Mayor John Berlin’s Council-At-Large term, which he left to become mayor.

“Gaining an understanding of the parliamentary procedures, the protocols and general culture of city government is challenging, but I’ve drawn upon my previous experience being on other boards, my knowledge of Salem as a lifelong resident, the nearly thirty years of business experience and as a business owner to get right to work on the issues facing our city,” Cushman wrote in a press release Wednesday.

“I’ve learned a lot in my time on council and I have more to learn, but I am actively involved and engaged in the issues that come before council and prepared to put my knowledge, experience and common-sense approach to work to finish my appointed term and hopefully win election to another full term as Council At Large if the citizens of Salem allow me,” he wrote.

A lifelong Salem resident, Cushman is the son of Ronald and Juanita Cushman of Salem and graduated from Salem High School in 1981. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kent State University in 1989. He and his wife, the former Susan Pugh of Salem, reside on Pearce Circle and have four children, Brian, Brice, Sidney and Cade, a daughter-in-law, Anne, and granddaughter, Avery.

Cushman noted how the oil and gas boom has provided an economic windfall for citizens and communities, but also pointed out that not everyone will benefit from it and it won’t last indefinitely.

“We need to make sound financial decisions when it comes to allocating these funds and not waste it or make hasty decisions. There are many areas of need in Salem but we must also retain as much in reserve as possible for Salem’s future,” his press release said.

As a business owner, he said knows how many people want and need jobs and said he’s approached frequently by people looking for a job, saying “they don’t want handouts, they want income. It is our job to pursue economic opportunities and create jobs in our community.”

Cushman said he feels strongly about “the war on drugs and crime in our town. We have amazing and dedicated officers working hard to keep our residents safe and keep drugs off our streets and out of our parks. Our new Chief of Police J.T. Panezott has made a career fighting this battle and we all need to support him and all Salem police officers in their efforts to reduce crime and drugs in our beloved Salem.”

In his press release, he said he supports their efforts and ways to make their jobs easier and safer. He said he likes the idea of crime-free zones, which was an idea talked about by fellow Councilman Brian Whitehill related to rental properties, and wants to hear more about it.

He also touched on the graffiti issue and the work being done by members of the Rules & Ordinances Committee and the public meetings being held in an effort to address it, saying “we need to get the message out to those who wish to deface our town, that it will not be tolerated or go unpunished.”

Cushman said he’s been asked why council members say their committee has not met and they have no report, a question he used to ask himself before joining council. He praised the fact that citizens are tuning in to the meetings and asking questions.

He chairs the Utilities Committee and said many issues are talked about and resolved at the Salem Utilities Commission meeting, explaining that his committee usually only meets when there’s an issue that requires a ordinance or resolution to be prepared.

Other committees operate the same way, but he said when a committee has not met that doesn’t mean the members haven’t attended any meetings. Each council member serves on three committees and chairs at least one committee and attends meetings of other organizations that may be related or other council committee meetings.

“I feel I bring a great deal of experience to city council. I am first and foremost a Christian and owe everything I have to the grace of God. I am a family man, blessed with a wonderful wife and children. I am a lifelong resident of Salem and graduate of Salem High School. I have years of business experience as a business owner here in Salem. I have been involved in many different boards and organizations and I am a proud supporter of many charities and events and community functions,” Cushman wrote.

He spoke highly of the renewed interest in revitalization in downtown Salem and said he favors any idea worth discussing.

“I am proud of Salem and only want to see it be a better and safer place to live, work and raise a family. I bring common sense and honesty to everything I do. I look forward to continuing to work with all the wonderfully talented, intelligent and dedicated people in our fine city to make it the best place it can be,” he said. “I promise to make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens of Salem and will rely on my experience and values. I have no personal agenda other than to help and will do my part to make Salem a better place to live and work.”