GREENVILLE — The candidates for a seat on the Darke County Board of Commissioners answered questions during the League of Women Voters “Candidates’ Night” held Monday at the Greenville American Legion.
Matt Aultman, Republican, and Leon Rogers, Democrat, are seeking to claim the seat of current Darke County Commissioner Diane Delaplane, who is not running for reelection November 8.
Mike Rhoades, another incumbent commissioner, is running unopposed.
Aultman, in addition to working for Keller Feed and Grain, is currently chairman of the Darke County Chamber of Commerce and a governor on the Darke County Fair Board. Rogers is a former police officer for Greenville, New Madison, and Union City, treasurer for the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, and currently sits on on Greenville City Council and works for Integrity Ambulance Service.
During the event, moderated by Eileen Litchfield, Aultman and Rogers were given two minutes to introduce themselves, one minute to answer questions submitted by the audience, 30 seconds of rebuttal, and one minute for a closing statement.
The two were asked their top priorities if elected. Rogers said Darke County’s aging population is one issue he would address as commissioner.
“I would like to see something started for the senior citizens,” he said. “A senior citizens’ center, with Greenville being the hub of Darke County, I think it would be a great place to have something of that nature in Darke County and Greenville.”
Rogers also mentioned the county’s problems with heroin addiction as a priority.
“Back a few years ago we had the D.A.R.E. program in our schools. There’s a lot of other programs out there that could be accomplished without spending the money that D.A.R.E. needs,” he said.
Aultman pointed to expanding job opportunities in the county.
“Another thing is to fill empty buildings around the county,” he said. “We actually had two new businesses come into the old Staples building, which is great, but there’s plenty of other business fronts that need filled as well.”
He added that the county should be “more financially responsible with our money.”
“What we’re currently doing in the county is watching every penny that’s goes out, but I think there’s some opportunities out there for our county to get from the state and national levels to bring some things to our county as well,” Aultman explained.
One submitted question asked them their thoughts on the $10 permissive tax recently passed by the commissioners. Both expressed approval of the board’s enactment of the tax, but not necessarily its implementation.
“What’s done is done, we can’t go back and reverse it,” said Rogers. “However, I look at two different angles. I have six licensed vehicles — that’s going to cost me another $60. I can downsize or I can pay it.”
“One thing I like is the fact is that it goes for roads and bridges in Darke County. Our roads and bridges need it,” he added.
Aultman said, “The $10 is much needed for the funding of our engineer’s department, taking care of our roads and bridges and structures. So, yes, the $10 would have been voted in, but the allocation of the money may be better spent somewhere else, because we’ve kind of gotten into the way of saying our bridges are dilapidated, like Mr. Rogers said, some of our roads needs repair, but allocating it to one certain project for two years is kind of tying the hands of our county engineer [for other] projects maybe more urgent to our county.”
Both were asked what they had done to prepare as a candidate.
Aultman cited his experience working for Keller Feed and Grain, his time on the Chamber of Commerce, the Fair Board and working with 4-H.
“It takes more than just a year or two to be prepared for the job,” he said. “It takes continued education, building relationships, getting to know those as part of our community.”
In his answer, Rogers noted his time as a law enforcement officer, small business owner, his involvement with the motorcycle association, and his time on Greenville City Council.
“The main thing I have done is basically working with the public over the years, with the police departments, having my own business. And that has prepared me for talking with people,” he said.
The two also addressed issues regarding economic development as it pertains to attracting young professionals, creating new jobs and keeping existing jobs in the county.
Aultman said the county’s existing work ethic can attract workers to the area.
“If you notice, many businesses move into this county because of our hard-working ethic,” he said. “We have Dannon in Minster, we have Whirlpool, we have GTI — we have the workforce.”
Rogers discussed Greenville’s Industrial Park and the nearby county industrial park, now under construction, as being essential to the area’s economic development.
“With the two industrial parks together, I think our economic development program is good, with the former mayor [Mike Bowers] now head of [Darke County Economic Development]. He understands this area…and I think it will be great for the workforce and I think we can get some more jobs into Greenville,” Rogers said.
Both candidates pledged to finish their term on the board and devote the time necessary to the job.
Rogers said, “Yes, I would finish the term, and I would take as many hours as it took. If it was 50 hours a week, that’s what it would take. My allegiance would be to the commissioner’s position, not as a steppingstone to go on to higher areas.”
Aultman said he would “absolutely” finish his term.
“I want to make the county better. I’m going to finish the job that I start,” he said, adding that he would drop his governorship on the Darke County Fair Board as required by state law and would also leave the Chamber of Commerce. “I’m planning to put in as many hours as it takes to make this county successful.”
Wave Channel 5/Greenville Public Access TV will be airing the event from October 12 to 31 on the following days and times:
Mondays, 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.; Tuesdays, 11 a.m.; Wednesdays, 6 p.m.; Thursdays, 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.