PIQUA — Mayoral and Piqua City Commission candidate Gary Koenig of Piqua is in the business of taking problems and turning them into solutions.
A member of the Planning Commission and Housing Council, in addition to being a licensed civil engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and a veteran with 20 years past experience in the U.S. Army, Koenig is campaigning for a place in Piqua’s government.
“It is a good fit to my leadership background and lifetime of service,” Koenig said.
Koenig was a part of a military family growing up, and he was born in Fort Sill, Okla. Koenig graduated from West Point, along with his two brothers, before spending the next 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Army.
“I spent 10 years in armor, or tanks, until the Cold War ended and most of the tank battalions were deactivated,” Koenig said. Koenig then got a Master’s Degree in civil engineering, spending his next 10 years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
During Koenig’s time in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he spent time stationed overseas in Europe and in Korea. Then in the States, he was also stationed in Chicago for a time.
“I was there during the Great Chicago Tunnel Flood,” Koenig said. The flood happened in 1992 when a utility tunnel underneath the Chicago River breached and flooded the Chicago Loop. “I was part of the team that put the city of Chicago back to work,” Koenig said.
“My family settled in Piqua after my retirement from the U.S. Army to be closer to my wife’s family in Ohio about 20 years ago,” Koenig said. Koenig’s wife, Mary Jo Koenig, is a public health nurse at the Miami County Health Department.
“After traveling all over the world, I finally have a hometown in Piqua,” Koenig said.
Koenig began getting involved in Piqua government by taking parting part in the first annual Piqua Government Academy, learning about the different aspects of running the city.
“In my current job in civil engineering, I work as an employee with the same departments – facilities, streets, storm water, electric power, solid waste removal, wastewater treatment, parks, and the first department,” Koenig said. “Piqua has state-of-the-art city services.” One example Koenig cited was the Piqua Power System’s control system.
“We need to keep ‘raising the bar’ on city services,” Koenig said, “but keep them affordable.”
Koenig then moved to becoming a city of Piqua volunteer, joining Planning Commission in 2013 and Housing Council in 2015.
“The Planning Commission complements my civil engineering background,” Koenig said. Koenig explained that the Planning Commission holds public hearings on construction plans, zoning amendments, and public improvements.
“It really is what I do,” Koenig said. “I am a professional with engineering and construction work.”
The Historic East Piqua Master Plan has been Koenig’s favorite project since volunteering on the Planning Commission. Koenig was the Planning Commission representative to the Steering Committee for that project, and he explained that he saw “lots of potential to develop that part of the city.”
During the length of that project, Koenig said he “really felt involved as a contributor to the good works of the city of Piqua.” Koenig added, “There are a lot of contributors to city projects and we need to engage the great, untapped potential of the city.”
Overall, Koenig has found a real connection between how the city operates day-to-day and the work that has been a part of his career for close to 20 years.
“I’m in the business of taking requirements from customers, which would be the city and the citizens, and I turn them into solutions,” Koenig said.
Koenig is also a fan of the Riverfront Redevelopment Project, calling it a “win-win for Piqua.”
“I like the amenities for senior housing and riverfront recreation that takes advantage of the downtown facilities,” Koenig said. Koenig explained that he is a “big fan of revitalizing historic facilities,” as it saves money.
“This is where we, as a city, need to go,” Koenig said. “It will take a private and public partnership to become a reality.”
Koenig has done campaigning for candidates in the state senate, congressional, and presidential elections to find out what residents and citizens are looking for in their community. So far during his own campaign, he has encountered concerns of property maintenance and drainage due to the heavy storms lately as well as questions about economic development.
“I have heard a lot of ideas for business development so far in my campaign,” Koenig said. “I have a direction, and with the help of the community, I will keep working on the vision.”
Overall, Koenig has found that people “are excited about living in Piqua.”
Koenig is planning to continue his campaigning throughout the city and is hoping to take part in the growth he is seeing in the city.
“Voting for Gary Koenig for mayor and 5th ward commissioner will keep the momentum moving,” Koenig said.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall