PREBLE COUNTY — In the race for two seats on the Preble County Commission, two Republican incumbents face contested races next Tuesday, March 15.
Incumbent commissioner Chris Day faces four opponents for the seat he currently holds, for a term to begin Jan. 2, 2017.
Joining Day on the ballot are Eric J. Green, Tony Pope and Eric White.
Incumbent Denise Robertson faces off against former county engineer J. Stephen Simmons for the seat she currently holds, for the term beginning Jan. 3, 2017.
With no Democrats having filed to run, and if no independent candidates step up to file by the March 14 (4 p.m.) filing deadline, the primary commission race becomes a “winner take all” situation for the individuals getting the most votes.
Voters can meet the candidates for Preble County Commissioner on Thursday, March 10, 7 p.m., at a Meet the Candidates event being held at Eaton Country Club. The event is sponsored by the Preble County Farm Bureau and Preble County Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates who had not yet presented candidacy information to The Register-Herald were recently given the opportunity to do so. Their responses, as well as information submitted by those candidates who previously announced their bids for the commission seats, are below.
Day, currently employed as village administrator for the Village of West Alexandria, is seeking his third term as county commissioner. He is a 1980 graduate of Twin Valley South High School, a registered track official for nearly 30 years, a member of Salem Lutheran Church, Masonic Lodge; and is active in Sons of American Legion Post 322 and Twin Valley Community Track Foundation.
“Having 30-plus years’ experience in government gives me the background to understand government. Having come into office in 2009 with a county that was fiscally broke in a downturned economy have worked through that process to date where we actually have a cash balance of about $3 million and have worked with all the elected officials to restore staff and giving them the resources they need to do their jobs for our county residents.
“Down the road we are looking at working with law enforcement on the current drug situation in the county and trying to overcome that. There is no silver bullet to get us out of this. We just all have to work together to figure out a solution. Along with that, the rising cost of child placement. Child placements are a direct result of the drug problem. That is going to be a huge challenge for us. It’s hand in hand. We continue to work at the landfill and turn it around so that it is being run as a business.”
Highlights during first two terms: “The development of the Preble County Developmental Partnership which is a public/private partnership to support business and economic development in our county. The CVB, which a lot of the businesses are a part of. It’s slowly getting to the point to where we can promote Preble County outside of Preble County. Been supportive with land and roadway for the YMCA complex, which now has Sinclair College and the ER Center.”
Relationships: “One of the things I strive to do, having worked with a lot of the entities, is to have a good working relationship with all government entities and working to try and reach out and assist those communities to get outside funding sources and things of that nature. In talking with state leaders, we’re trying to let them know Preble County is here and we exist. I’ve tried to foster the relationship at the state level. When I was first elected we had a very bad reputation, a black eye at the state level. I sit on three different committees at the state level. It does take time away from the county, but I think it’s time well spent to invest in that.”
To the voters of the county: “Look at the past seven years and the track record of where we were funding-wise. Five out of the previous six years’ expenses had exceeded receipts. We’ve had a balanced budget the last seven years and if I’m elected I’ll continue to monitor that and make sure we’re fiscally responsible now and in the future. That is how the county is going to be able to prosper.”
Eric J. Green
Occupation: Press Brake operator Henny Penny Corp., 1999-Present/Owner G&G Sounds DJ Service, 1998-Present
Past political posts: councilman, Village of New Paris 1999-2003, president of council 2003; Board of Public Affairs, New Paris, 2004-2005. 2005-2013 National Trail Board of Education, President 2007-2009; 2014-present Preble County Educational Service Center, president 2015-present
A 1998 National Trail High School graduate, Green has been a past 4-H horse adviser, Kiwanis member, Darke County Fish and Game, L&M Products Board of Directors 2000-2005; current member First Baptist Church Richmond, Indiana; Fellowship Lodge 106 F&AM since 2006; New Paris, N.T. Alumni Association Board of Trustees, past three years, president 2015.
As a Republican for Preble County Commissioner I will work diligently for all residents with a fair and open mind. As a husband, father, business owner and public servant, I have a vested interest in the direction Preble County will go for our future. I’ve proudly supported our law enforcement and public safety, education, 4-H and FFA programs over the past 17 years. I support our local governments, chambers of commerce and the Economic Development Partnership. I will be a voice for positive improvements for our county and not just status quo representation. I’m dedicated to consistent decision making in the best interest of the community while protecting our culture and way of life for future generations. I believe in family, conservative values, fiscal responsibility, living within our means and not placing errant debt on future generations.
What is the most crucial issue facing the office I am seeking and how would I address it? There are several issues, but I feel that unfunded mandates at Job and Family Services with explanation on how and why we spend these dollars, infrastructure, public safety concerns, job creation, and the willingness to communicate to the public on decisions made are areas we could improve on. Many feel that government is hiding something. I would offer leadership and direction and start with open communication so that we are better informed on issues. Public perception has hurt opportunities in the past. I believe a fresh set of eyes in the office is what is needed to restore integrity. I will work with all stakeholders and listen to suggestions to help our county improve. The recent building proposal for the Preble County Landfill is one example of not fitting the needs of the area. I believe that a million dollar-plus building is out of touch with what is needed. I believe we must run the landfill with a more business-savvy mindset. I believe in investments but also believe they must fit the needs of our area. A pole barn would be better suited at the landfill. We need to truly look at the purpose and time utilized before we should expand or add more square footage.
If elected, what would be my chief priorities? I believe there are several priorities that require our immediate attention. Increasing employment opportunities for residents, protecting and pursuing the growth of existing and new business, protection of our farming resources, and maintaining fiscal responsibility to the residents, to name a few.
In the last election I ran as a Democrat, why did I switch to Republican this time around? My family and I, including my parents switched in February of 2013. We felt that the nationally recognized Democratic agenda was out of touch with our views. Our faith comes first and regardless of outcomes of elections we made the switch with deep sincerity, as this was the right decision for my family. I have always stood for faith, family, and freedom and have never supported the current president. I’ve always been conservative, this is who I am. I am proud to be an American. I would be honored to be the Republican Nominee and would serve our county well as commissioner.
“I am seeking the office of county commissioner to represent the folks of Preble County. I’m retired after 30 years of self-employment in the pizza business. Before my pizza career, I worked as an ironworker, an electrician, and in farm drainage.
“After graduating from Preble Shawnee, I was accepted into Miami University and began studying. It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t like college any more than I liked high school. I took a job as an electrician trainee at Hamilton Tool Company. I learned a lot there and left to work in construction as an electrician. When work got slow, I went to work for Buell Farm Drainage. I left because of the money and began building structures as an Ironworker. Again, work got slow, so I invested $5,800 into my first pizza place. After five years, I bought a farm in Gasper Township, and then two years later I sold my business in Texas. I moved back home to my beautiful farm where I have lived for the past 25 years…I plan on being here until six men carry me out in a box… I love it here.
“I have a daughter living at home. She began at Sinclair’s Preble County Learning Center in Eaton when she was 14 after I homeschooled her for six years. She graduated from Sinclair with three associate degrees and on the Dean’s List, and now she is going to Miami University.
“I went back in the pizza business in Camden for many years, and a year ago, I sold my business and retired. I am currently serving my 21st year as a working Gasper Township trustee. Along with my fellow trustees, I have accomplished Gasper Fire and Rescue, a new salt bin done in-house except for the formed walls, and just jumped-in on projects, saving the township a lot of money. I spent a lot of nights plowing snow until the early hours of the morning. I planned road repairs, and worked for Gasper Township to make it a better place.
“I am the best candidate for the job of Preble County Commissioner because of my budgeting skills in keeping taxes low, my get-it-done attitude, and for my vision. For example: Gasper Township’s 24/7 EMS.
“I watched and worked with Lakengren as it grew to become Preble County’s second largest community. I have always represented Lakengren and the agricultural portion of the township. When the county severely cut Soil and Water, we helped them because of how much they are needed. When Lakengren wanted more police protection, I knew how to create a police district for them. It was put to a ballot and barely passed then, but it was recently renewed by a large margin.
“A critical local issue in Preble County right now is the budget and how that impacts taxpayers. I want to try working with the state to reform the CAUV to be updated annually instead of every three years. Countries like China play large part in grain prices and on our currency. I’m pro-business, but once again… common sense must prevail. The boondoggle at Goose Creek cost us 1.5 million dollars and I can clearly see through the smoke often created by planners and so-called developers.
“Like many rural counties, we have a heroin problem. I see some simple solutions that would make our county and municipalities bad places for dealers to do business. It won’t stop it, but it would help a lot. I also see the needs of an aging population in Preble County and I will work for everyone.”
Citing illness, Pope had not responded to The Register-Herald with information regarding his candidacy at press time.
Both Robertson and Simmons previously announced their candidacy.
Denise Robertson, who was elected to her Preble County Commissioner’s seat in 2012, announced her bid for a second term late last year. “The Preble County Board of Elections has accepted and approved my petition to run for a second term as your county commissioner,” Robertson wrote in a release. “It has been a blessing and an honor to serve the people of this county since January of 2013, and I hope to continue on the same path.
She continued: “My campaign ran on a conservative platform of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free market principles. I have kept those values throughout my first term. I have voiced my opposition to unnecessary tax increases and voted against anything that would take more money from your pockets. The government should live within its means, just as you would. If the county cannot provide services with current tax revenues, it is time to cut back on spending, not take more from the taxpayers.
“I am happy to announce my run for re-election as your county commissioner,” she added. “I trust the people of this county to pick the best person for the job. If that is me, then I am asking for your vote in the Republican primary on March 15.”
A 1983 graduate of Preble Shawnee, Robertson holds an associates degreee in Computer Science from Miami University. She founded the Preble County Liberty Group, is a member of Continuum of Care (Homeless Solutions), a member of Christ Commission Temple Church, a volunteer for Campus Life (Youth for Christ of Miami Valley,) and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Robertson was recently endorsed by Citizens for Community Values Action PAC.
J. Stephen Simmons
J. Stephen Simmons, retired Preble County Engineer, in January announced his candidacy for the Preble County Commission term commencing Jan. 3, 2017.
According to Simmons, with his experience of over 27 years as Preble County Engineer, he can “bring additional stability, vision and direction to the county board of commissioners.”
“I want to continue serving the people of Preble County in areas that are vital to our future,” Simmons said, noting he hopes that, “With the voter’s support, we can move Preble County forward in a positive direction.”
Simmons is a 1970 graduate of Eaton High Schools and a 1975 graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in civil and environmental engineering. He was elected Preble County Engineer in 1984, and assumed the duties in January 1985. Simmons has been a member of several groups and organizations, including the Eaton Rotary Club.
Simmons received the Preble County Republican Party’s endorsement, and was recently endorsed by the Preble County Floyd E. Spitler Lodge #158 Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.