GREENVILLE – Two candidates seeking approval from Republican voters in the Primary Election were given an opportunity to share their thoughts on questions posed by the audience. Darke County Commission candidates Matt Harrison and Larry Holmes took the stage during the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum.
Both candidates say they will be fiscally conservative in office, but gave different reasons for why they feel they are the person to fill the position.
Harrison, who currently serves as mayor of Hollansburg, wants to put his focus on the townships and villages. He believes he can continue building a collaborative in the county where the villages can maximize their spending.
Holmes has had a 40 year career in financial management where he has been responsible for a $70 million budget. He said, “Darke County has been good to me. It’s important to me to see this community move forward.”
The candidates differed in their beliefs as to what the major issues they will face in office. Holmes put the budget and the need to be fiscally responsible at the top of his list. “Finding the solution that best allocates resources to the members of our community is going to be our challenge,” he said. Holmes also put growing the economy as one of his top challenges. He wants to encourage meaningful jobs.
“Economic growth is good, but at the same time we need to find that balance with one of the keys as small community investment,” said Harrison. He believes housing is also a “big deal” but he feels improving the communities can help in that area.
The candidates were asked their opinion on security at the courthouse and eventual closure of the front entrance.
Both agreed security and protecting the people in the courthouse is important. Holmes added, “I think it’s a doggone shame that we are not going to be able to use our steps. It’s a beautiful courthouse.”
A question was also posed on the building of a new jail and the possibility of a levy. “There is certainly a need,” said Holmes. It is his understanding that a grant is available. The county is spending $700,000 a year to house inmates at other facilities, which includes time and transportation of inmates back and forth to the courthouse. “Those dollars could be reallocated for a period of time to pay off any excess,” he said.
Harrison claimed the dollar figure was closer to $300,000 being spent and doesn’t include transportation back and forth. “We don’t have the facility we need. So how do we go about the taxpayers? If we do proceed with this, how can we build a multi-functional thing? How do we put the lowest inmates to work and give them a purpose? I don’t care if it’s bagging groceries for grandma. How do you do this and save money at the same time.”
Without knowing what options are available, Holmes chose not to answer whether or not each commissioner should have their own office. Harrison said, “To me, it doesn’t make sense because it is going to cost you more money. My opponent has made comment about the Sunshine thing. The thing about the Sunshine thing, as a council member, we’re cleaning up the community out in the village of Hollansburg and I have three council members who are helping me. Do I make one of them leave? If the three commissioners were sitting in there and I have a question, it makes sense because I have all three of you in the same spot.” Holmes responded, “The Sunshine Laws are very important and they’re there to protect the interest of the community to make sure decisions that impact them are made in full disclosure and that’s what is very difficult when you have a commission of three. How do you do that and stay within the rules and we can’t lose sight of?
In addition to the commission candidates, the Darke County Parks (DCP) was given an opportunity to speak in favor of Issue 1, a proposed 1 mill levy. Deb Shiverdecker, administration assistant at DCP, said this levy will take over the previous levy and the funds from the .5 mill levy will not be collected. The levy would mean an additional $1.67 a month on a $100,000 property – approximately $20 a year. DCP has expressed an interest in adding Bear’s Mill and Fort Jefferson and some of the additional funds would be used for staffing and maintenance. Warner added that all of the park’s properties have been donated or paid for by grants from the state and no prime farmland is located in the park district.
Several candidates introducing themselves at the forum, including Dr. Vanessa Enoch, Democratic candidate for Congress; Cindy Pike, for Darke County Clerk of Court; Matt Aultman, for Darke County Commission; and Jim Surber, for Darke County Engineer.