October 31, 2012
OTTAWA — Two Putnam County commissioners are facing competition this year in their bida for re-election Nov. 6. Republican Travis Jerwers, of Kalida, is in a four-way race to fill the Jan.2. commissioner seat while Republican Vince Schroeder is in a two-way race for the Jan. 3 seat.
Jerwers said he initially ran four years ago because he was frustrated with how taxpayers weren’t appreciated and he recognized that public service is about the taxpayer.
“I want to continue with this support of the taxpayers during my second term,” Jerwers said.
He is backing up this belief by supporting taking the 0.25 percent sales tax off the books when it expires in 2013.
“The purpose of that sales tax was to pay off the jail,” Jerwers said. “We have set up a lockbox account that has enough money to pay off the jail. I do not think we should renew this tax when it expires.”
Mark Schmiedebusch, his Democratic opponent, said he feels there should be more cohesiveness in the courthouse.
“There needs to be better communication among the commissioners and ultimately the rest of the courthouse and county,” Schmiedesbusch said.
He proposes town hall meetings where the commissioners meet with officials from each village on a regular basis.
“We need to communicate with the entire county,” Schmiedebusch said. “If something comes down I want to explain why we are doing it.”
He said with state funding cuts, the commissioners will have to look at all avenues to get revenue for the county.
Dan Honigford, of Ottoville, an independent candidate, said he chose to run because he felt the county needed more equalized representation from the entire county. One of his goals if elected is to give the small-business owner more of a voice in the county.
“I’m a small-business owner and realize small businesses growing will help the county to grow,” he said. “We need to continue to look at tax incentives and other ways to support the small-business owners.”
He also said the Commissioners Office should have better communications with the public.
“This could be by having town hall meetings, writing letters to the editor, and posting upcoming activities the commissioners will address,” Honigford said.
Independent candidate Mike Lammers is concerned about the lack of updated technology in the courthouse.
“The technology in the courthouse is in dire straits,” Lammers said. “Upgrading the technology in the courthouse would save us money down the road.”
He has spent the last six months attending village council, township trustee and fire association meetings.
“It’s important to know the issues for each community,” Lammers said. “I’m impressed with the quality of people this county has in public offices and the number of young people who are involved,” he said.
Incumbent Vince Schroeder, of Leipsic, said he is seeking re-election for his third term because he feels the county is doing well and he wants this to continue.
“One thing that has changed since I took office is that we now have good cooperation among the elected officials,” Schroeder said.
He said all the departments continue to work more efficiently, operating on less money. An example he gave was combining the Child Security Enforcement and Job and Family offices, saving the county money and putting money aside to pay for the jail early.
Schroeder said they have also developed an IT department to address technology issues in the courthouse.
“Our biggest challenge is going to be the budget,” Schroeder said. “The state keeps mandating more requirements that cost money.”
Independent candidate Barry Woodyard, of Ottawa, the president of RK Industries, is concerned about the need for more trained employees for Putnam County jobs.
“We need to look at more ways to provide trained workers in this county,” Woodyard said.
If elected he plans to sit down with factory representatives and work with local schools and community colleges about providing the training that is required for local jobs.”
Woodyard is also concerned about the lack of updated technology in the courthouse.
“Technology is so far behind in the courthouse that they are still hand-generating checks,” Woodyard said.
Woodyard and Jerwers also share concerns about how eminent domain was used on acquisition of land for Road 5. Both were against the widening.