Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Three political newbies are vying for a seat on the board of commissioners in Butler County, where spending is the resounding theme in a community that is steeped in debt and faces $900,000 in cuts to get through the end of the year.
“Right now what we are seeing is a lack of fiscal responsibility from a party that claims to be fiscal conservatives,” said Democratic candidate Jodi L. Billerman.
The county’s debt, at $67.5 million, is out of control, she said, while county officials forecast that 83 percent of the debt will be paid off in 10 years.
Billerman, Republican T.C. Rogers of West Chester Township and Libertarian Daryl R. Olthaus of Milford Township have lined up to grab the seat of outgoing longtime Republican Commissioner Chuck Furmon.
Furmon was ousted in the primary election in a three-way race between him, Rogers and Ohio Rep. Courtney Combs, who loses his statehouse seat in January to term limits. Rogers beat out Combs by 13 votes.
None of the three current commission candidates have run for public office before.
Even though the Butler County commission and the majority of county government is dominated by Republicans, Billerman and Olthaus both say they want to see some balance .
“We’ve had a lot of issues lately,” said Olthaus, who is bothered by the string of scandals and criminal convictions involving former officials . “ I want to be the person on the commission that says, ‘Let’s look at this a different way,’ or to kind of be the watchdog outside the Republican Party.”
Billerman, who is running because the local Democrats asked her, said she is not a diehard liberal. “Some of the labeling just doesn’t really suit me and I know I’ll lose votes because there is a D behind my name,” she said. “I took a concealed carry class. I’m a wicked shot. You can’t exactly call me a Teva sandal-wearing, organic-eating vegan. I’m not. I genuinely believe I have something to offer.”
Rogers, a home builder and real estate agent, is running on his experience as a businessman and member of a county budget task force. “I’ve created jobs year after year. I think I already have a relationship with county officials … so I don’t have to have any break-in period. I can be a manager from day one whereas they would be an apprentice,” he said of his political opponents. He said the county can’t continue to spend money it doesn’t have. He’d like to look into saving money on some services and equipment by sharing with Butler County cities and townships.