JACKSON TWP. Trustee James Walters lost his re-election bid in the November election by a slim 187 votes. While he was disappointed with the loss, he said he was more thankful for the opportunity he had to serve the three terms than he was disappointed with the election results.

He took some time before ending his tenure as a Jackson Township Trustee to share his thoughts on serving the community he loves.

“It has been a wonderful privilege to serve the Jackson Township community as trustee for the last 12 years,” he said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with so many dedicated people in and around our community. I’ve never forgotten that public service is a privilege and I’ve always worked hard to put our community first.”

Walters said the Jackson Township Board of Trustees has accomplished some great things during his time, actions that he believes will benefit the community for many years to come. Some of those actions include preserving more than 240 acres of parks and greenspace for the community. He believes the 200 acres of Stark Parks, and 40 acres of Township parks at the former Tam O’Shanter golf course will serve the children and families in a myriad of ways for decades.

“I am pleased that we have also brought major improvements to North Park, including the new library and our community amphitheater, which will host activities of all kinds including concerts, the community celebration, theater productions and many different events and shows,” Walters said. “What a tremendous asset this will be for us, right in the heart of our Township.

“I’m also tremendously proud of our groundbreaking partnership with our schools to have a township police officer in every school, every day. There is nothing more important than the safety of our families, and Jackson is a model for others around Ohio of how these partnerships can work. I am very thankful to our Police Department and school administration for the hard work to make student safety a top priority.”

Walters added that he is pleased that the trustees were able to secure an important economic development partnership with the city of Canton.

“This was a major undertaking that took several years to come to fruition,” he said. “This agreement has already brought many new businesses and hundreds of new jobs to our community, and it also protects us from annexation. The revenue generated by these agreements go directly to fund our police and fire departments, reducing the pressure for property tax levies on our residents and business owners.”

He's also proud of the hard work the board has done to provide township services in a cost effective and efficient manner. Walters said that trustees have balanced the budget every year, while often carrying over significant monies.

“Just one example is that our Parks Department has never had an increase in the levy. That can only be done by careful planning and constant attention to needs and priorities. I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve with Trustees John Pizzino, Todd Hawke, Bill Burger and Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez. It may come as a surprise to some, but despite these offices being elected, I’ve never approached the responsibilities in a political manner.

“In my time on the Board, I can say without hesitation that we have always strived to do what was best for our community, without concern for politics. I’ve always made that point that there isn’t a Republican or Democrat police or Fire Department; there isn’t a Republican or Democrat road or park. I hope the community can appreciate our local leaders striving for the betterment of our community, without concern for politics.”

Walters added that residents are incredibly fortunate to live in a community with top rated schools, beautiful parks, great businesses and safety forces that are second to none.

“I am very thankful for the job our police and fire departments do every day serving and protecting our families,” he said. “I am very thankful for the job our roads and park departments do to make Jackson a beautiful community to live in.”

His future plans include continuing to serve the community as pastor at United Methodist Church and leader of the New Hope Church in McDonaldsville, volunteering in with various community groups wherever and whenever he sees an opportunity and he may run for another elected office in the future.

“I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside the people who work for the township and with the board, making Jackson a wonderful place to live, work, play, worship and raise our families,” he said. “I look forward to future opportunities to continue serving, whether in elected office or elsewhere. To the wonderful people of Jackson Township, thank you for the opportunity to serve you.”