Wind and Ohio Issue 1 dominated the annual Issues and Candidates Night Wednesday at Tiffin Middle School, featuring candidates for local and state offices.
Election Day is Nov. 6 and early voting started Wednesday.
Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner is running for his second term.
“I feel we have made great progress towards our strategic plan,” said Kerschner, a Republican.
The strategic plan, according to Kerschner, focuses on buildings, roads, infrastructure and technology.
Democratic candidate Cheryl Radin-Norman is running against Kerschner in the general election.
During the event’s forum, commissioner candidates were asked several questions about alternative energy wind projects, including if there is any way to stop two proposed wind farm projects.
Kerschner said in his answer that he is not aware of a way to stop it.
“There are a lot of issues involved,” he said.
The main focus of concern, Kerschner said, are the property values and the subsidies involved with the PILOT program.
Radin-Norman said through her research, there is a way to reverse the resolution previous commissioners had in place by establishing Seneca County as an alternative energy zone. To do so, she said, is to file a referendum to appeal the resolution.
“This would have a better chance for all parties involved to have a say,” she said.
On the topic of wind, Radin-Norman said she is not against any way to improve the future of the planet, but they should complement the area. Radin-Norman said she feels wind turbines do not complement Seneca County.
Officially, Kerschner said the county’s position is pro-wind with two commissioners in favor of the wind projects. Kerschner is against the projects and said the commissioners should have “each other’s back.”
Ohio House of Representatives for District 88
Candidate for Ohio House of Representatives Rachel Crooks, a Democrat, is from Green Springs and has lived and worked in Tiffin for 12 years, at Heidelberg and Tiffin universities, working with the international student population.
Working with the international students, Crooks said she has gained a broad perspective, one in which she feels is needed in the Statehouse.
Crooks is running against Rep. Bill Reineke, a Republican from Tiffin, who is pursuing a third term.
Reineke said during his term he has focused on vocational and career tech education and workforce development, which he plans to continue.
On the topic of wind energy projects, Crooks said she has taken the time to listen to both sides and has found herself in the middle and plans to work toward a better process.
Crooks said the process is faulty and does not support the proposed projects as they are now.
Reineke said it is important to find a unified mission.
“We have to consider what is good for the district and find out if it works here,” he said.
Reineke and Crooks also were asked about universal health care, eliminating “dark money” from politics and for-profit charter schools.
Ohio Issue 1
A presentation on Issue 1 was made by event moderator Gene Chintala, speaking on behalf of the Tiffin League of Women Voters, as a way to present both sides of the issue.
The issue is a proposed state constitutional amendment that, if approved, would reduce penalties for crimes of obtaining, possessing and using illegal drugs. The amendment is designed to reduce the number of people in state prisons for low-level, nonviolent drug possession, drug use offenses or for non-criminal probation violations. The intention is for savings then to be directed to substance abuse treatment programs, crime victim programs, probation programs, graduated responses programs and rehabilitation programs.
Commissioner candidates agreed Issue 1 is a very serious issue.
Kerschner said he “absolutely does not support the legislation,” and feels county judges should be the ones handling the issue.
Radin-Norman said she cannot support the bill as it is written.
Reineke urged voters to vote no on Issue 1.
“This is a very serious issue that has the potential to allow drug sellers back into the district,” he said.
Crooks said she would also vote no on the issue, but said it does point out addiction as an illness, which is as it should be treated, she said. She said the opiate epidemic is a societal issue.
Seneca County auditor
Seneca County auditor candidate Julie Adkins also took time to answer questions during the forum. Adkins is running uncontested in November. She has served as the county auditor since 2008 and has more than 29 years of experience in the office.
“It has been a pleasure to serve the county and I look forward to continue to do so,” Adkins said. “Our doors are always open.”
Adkins was asked how wind turbines would effect the county’s property taxes.
In her answer, Adkins said it was a hard topic to address at this time because taxes would have to be reviewed upon construction of the turbines.
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