By Wayne Gates –
Local candidates made their cases to Brown County voters on October 13.
The Brown County Tea Party hosted a candidate forum, where candidates were able to speak to the audience and also took questions.
Most local candidates attended, with Alex Scharfetter filling in for Second District Congressman Brad Wenstrup.
Scharfetter said that Wenstrup was still backing Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.
He also mentioned the work that Wenstrup was doing on trying to solve large national issues like poverty, national security, health care, tax reform and the economy.
Wenstrup opponent William Smith did not attend.
State Senator Joe Uecker spoke next, discussing how he would like to return to the legislature for another four year term to represent Senate District 14.
“I will continue to fight for the Ohio Constitution, to continue to fight for jobs, for public education and to continue make Ohioans proud to live, work and raise a family,” Uecker told the audience.
His opponent, Charles Carlier, did not attend the event.
The next to speak was State Rep. Doug Green of the 66th district.
Green discussed the duties and accomplishments of serving in the Ohio House on the Finance, Government Accountability and Oversight, Healthcare Efficiencies Study and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.
“All of this is great background in establishing an understanding the different facets of how our state works,” Green said.
He closed by asking the support of the audience to continue his work as a state representative.
Ken McNeely, Green’s opponent, did not attend the event.
Both individuals who are running for Brown County Prosecuting Attorney also spoke.
First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Zac Corbin went first, discussing his roots in Brown County.
He noted that he, his wife and his parents were all lifelong Brown County residents.
“As the first assistant (prosecutor) it is my responsibility to review all felony cases in the county,” Corbin said.
“Eighty percent of our cases have something to do with drugs…I was instrumental in early 2015 in helping to establish the Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force. That is a group of law enforcement officers in Brown County who work together to send them where they belong.”
Corbin’s challenger Dennis Varnau then spoke, discussing his background and military service.
He then spoke about how the office would run under his supervision.
“I couldn’t prosecute a case in the courtroom. What I would do as prosecutor is donate my salary back to the assistant prosecutor’s fund so I could hire five or six good prosecutors.”
He then said that he didn’t agree with how things are being done in the county.
“I believe there is as much corruption down here as up in the national level,” Varnau said.
Nick Owens is running for the Ohio State Board of Education, District 10.
“We have to bring back drug education and awareness training to our schools,” Owens said.
“Schools play a vital role in combatting the drug problem.”
Braydon Bevens, the opponent of Owens, did not attend the event.
Former Brown County Commissioner and current candidate Jim Ferguson then spoke about his accomplishments when he served in county government.
“We got a new animal shelter, a new child support building, a new 911 communication center, purchased the health department facility and renovated the courthouse. All of these were accomplished without putting Brown County in debt or running any kind of a tax levy,” Ferguson said.
His opponent, incumbent Brown County Commissioner Barry Woodruff, addressed the audience about the jail issue.
“The drug epidemic hit like a tsunami and our jail was built for a whopping 38 inmates. We have 64 over there tonight, plus 20 more in Butler County,” Woodruff said.
In regards to the nearly $2 million spent to renovate the jail and house prisoners elsewhere during the work, Woodruff said “We had a hot potato dropped in our lap and we dealt with it. We did not borrow money to do it.”
Incumbent Brown County Commissioner Daryll Gray also spoke.
He addressed the issues that he has dealt with during his first term, including the closure and renovation of the jail.
“I do not know which commissioners we can blame for the bad devices on the jail cell doors, but I do know what commissioners fixed the problem. It’s the ones you have in office right now.”
Gray’s opponent, Ralph Jennings, spoke next. He said that he had over 30 years of experience as a township trustee, four years of experience as a Brown County Commissioner and a good work ethic.
He added, “I consider myself to be a good communicator. One of the most important things in county government is the ability of a commissioner to communicate and cooperate with those at the local and state level.”
Unopposed candidates Gordon Ellis, Connie Patrick, Todd Cluxton and Amy DeClaire also spoke.
Another candidate forum, sponsored by the Brown County Press and the News Democrat, will be held October 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Southern Hills Career and Technology Center.