This upcoming election, a commissioner race will be on the ballot for Scioto County residents with current Commissioner Bryan Davis and challenger Josh Lawson seeking the seat.
Davis was elected in 2014 and is seeking a third term in office.
“I’m seeking reelection, because the mission isn’t finished. I firmly believe that, in the first four years, the mission was to right the ship. The county had many years of fiscal woes, a lot of job losses and things like that. We needed to right the ship. When I came in, we literally had $100,000 in carryover. The previous commissioners, Mr. Coleman and Mr. Crabtree started that process. After my first year, we had over a million dollars in carryover and it has only gotten bigger since then,” Davis said. “Because of that, we’ve been able to do a lot of projects in the county, but only because the first four years was righting the ship and building a foundation for growth in economic development, our different departments and our overall finances to make sure our house is in order. We had to make sure our expenses were at the lowest level, but, at the same time, making sure our essential services were handled.”
Davis said the financial foundation of the county was his first term’s success and the second of his eight years he built upon that success to pursue development.
“Being very, very smart with our money, we’re now able to do a lot of work with our matching grants. If we didn’t have our reserves, we wouldn’t be able to do those things,” Davis said. “My mission now is simple; it is to build on our current successes. I’m not finished. I fully believe that brighter days are ahead of us and that isn’t just a cliché. They truly are.”
Davis said that he sees brighter days ahead because of new industry, new businesses and unprecedented cooperation between the City of Portsmouth and Scioto County.
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Davis cited the carryover of funds and strong financial practices.
“We have had surplus all eight straight years, we have had balanced budgets all eight straight years, we’ve had glowing state audits all eight straight years. We’ve had two improvements and upgrades on our credit ratings, we’ve refinanced bonds and saved millions in our fiscal house. We’ve done it right, and, because of that, we’re able to do a lot more.”
Davis said that one major goal he carries, should he be reelected into a third term is to increase broadband access.
“We have an entirely different landscape than we did even ten years ago. We have a digital economy and people working in that digital economy, and we have kids utilizing remote learning. If we learned anything in this pandemic, it is that we do not have adequate broadband services in parts of our county,” Davis said. “About 78 percent of the homes in our county have subscription to internet, which leaves out a lot of people. The other thing is that many in that 78 percent have slow services. We need to make sure our people have access, adequate access that is fast reliable, and that it is affordable.”
Davis believes that it may take years to happen, but proper broadband will eventually hit Scioto County, thanks to support he has lobbied at the state level with other commissioners.
“I’ve heard my opponent speak on this item and it is one we agree on. To be honest with you, however, I have the experience and contacts to make this happen.”
Lawson echoed a lot of what Davis commented on, when he discussed broadband coverage.
“Economic development 101 is infrastructure. We need to have reliable utilities, water and sewer, roads, and broadband. Broadband isn’t a luxury, it is an infrastructural need, especially in the 21st century in the way the economy has changed,” Lawson said. “The digital economy is growing at two and a half times the rate of our national economy. At the same time, rural communities like ours are falling behind, because we lack that kind of access.”
While Lawson agreed with the need, he deviated in some directions.
“Where I take it one step further is to emphasize that we need leadership at the county level who themselves are familiar with the opportunities and advantages through participation of the digital economy,” Lawson said.
Lawson has served the area as a small business owner, author and community volunteer on boards. While Lawson feels that broadband is an important focus moving forward, his background pushes him in other directions as well, with other topics on his mind that will take priority— from homelessness and addiction to policies for commissioner appointments and spending.
“My platform is centered on innovation, collaboration, and recovery, which reflects my work in the community in the past four to five years,” Lawson explained, “I see this as an opportunity to expand the scope of what I have been doing professionally and on a volunteer basis in the community already, but more effective and with a wider scope.
Lawson explained that he is a member of several non-profit boards and coalitions tackling various intersecting social concerns. His most recent involvement has him working with Friends of Scioto County CASA, which serves children in the foster care programs. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, which is a person who is appointed to a child in foster care that is nonbiased in the upbringing of the child, so that proper decisions can be made on behalf of the child that don’t stem from foster parent, biological parent, or a public figure.
“They’re a third party advocate that can best represent the need of the child,” Lawson explained.
The nonprofit Lawson serves on is there to assist in the work CASA accomplishes and helps raise funding for the program, due to budget restraints within the system.
According to Lawson, some of the highlights of his campaign include addiction, homelessness, children in the public foster care system, and finding ways to balance the needs of all people without compromising care for others.
“I want to paint a vision of community progress that leaves no one out and no one behind,” Lawson said.
Through his volunteerism, Lawson believes that his passion for serving started and he believes it is these grassroots efforts that will save the region.
“A lot of people refer to us as the Comeback City in various circles throughout the county, reflecting the efforts being made by the many individuals, agencies, and community partners to help bring our county out of the deficit and muck and mire from so many decades of economic exploitation preyed upon by pharmaceutical companies and so on. Considering that, we see a lot of good things happening across the community from local entrepreneurs to nonprofits led by concerned citizens,” Lawson said
Government transparency is another topic that Lawson claimed would be high on his list, should he receive the votes to be placed into office.
“Currently, when it comes to the Commissioner board, a lot of folks don’t know what the commissioners do. I’d like to bring general public awareness and education about how our county government operates and how people can be involved.”
The two candidates will face off on the election come Tuesday, November 8. Both candidates and parties support the upcoming Children’s Services tax levy and comments from Davis and Lawson will be found in an article covering the topic later this week.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved