With the start of election season in Scioto County, voters will be faced with a number of choices including who they want to fill two seats on the county commission. Seeking reelection is Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners Mike Crabtree, running against him is Portsmouth City Councilman Kevin W. Johnson.
Both Crabtree and Johnson bring a number of years of experience to the role.
Each candidate agrees, one of the keys to economic prosperity is investment in the infrastructure of the county.
When asked why he’s seeking another term Crabtree said, “Over the last four years, we have come from a two million dollar deficit, to now we have a $6.5 million dollar carryover.”
Johnson said he’s seeking the office of commissioner because “I think we focus on much more than what the county commissioners have been doing. That’s one of the reasons I think we need to focus on our infrastructure and development and always keep in mind our bottom line is to create an environment that encourages jobs.”
Johnson said as much as the commissioners have focused on other things, the bottom line needs to lead to creating an environment that encourages jobs.
Crabtree said going from a deficit to a carryover was not done easily. The county was able to save considerable money my switching insurance providers for county employees, providing the same coverage.
“In the first year, we save $650,000 when compared to the previous year and we were facing a double-digit increase (with the other provider),” Crabtree said.
Other examples used included purchasing the courthouse annex. The purchase allowed the county to save money, by not having to pay rent on office space.
“We’ve been able to pay off bond issues, we refinanced the Shelton Industries Bond and saved $1.1 million over the life of the bond,” Crabtree said.
Johnson is approaching the end of his seventh year as a member of Portsmouth City Council and enjoyed the legislative and administrative aspect of the job.
“At some point we need to develop a long term plan for the county, what do we want to be when we grow up,” Johnson said.
A number of improvements have to the Scioto County Courthouse over the years.
“We managed to get a new roof on the courthouse, while we were still in fiscal emergency. We’re repairing a lot of water damage (caused by a leaking roof) over time because we’ve not been able to get all of the grant dollars we need for that. You can see we’ve done a lot of minor repairs all over the courthouse,” Crabtree said. “We managed to do all of that while maintaining a healthy balance.”
Crabtree said some of the issues facing the office of commissioner include, a possible decrease in sales tax which could mean up to a $2 million dollar decrease in funding.
“I’m on the board of directors for the county commissioners association of Ohio and that’s our number one priority because all of the counties will be affected by this,” Crabtree said.
He said the commissioners have invested heavily in economic development through the Southern Ohio Port Authority.
“We’re doing things here in the county that maybe should have been done a long time ago. We’ve got plans for things in the future and we want to remain with a healthy fiscal balance,” Crabtree said. “Everything we do down here, we’re trying to do in the best interest of the community. I think we have a lot to offer this community and we’re going to keep on doing what we can, if we’re reelected we’re going to work hard together to make things happen in Scioto County.”
Johnson said some of the issues facing the office of county commissioner include, “one of the things is transparency and if people in the county are supporting you, they should know why they are supporting you.”
For more information about the Crabtree campaign visit the Mike Crabtree for County Commissioner Facebook page. For more information about the Johnson campaign visit the Kevin W. Johnson for Scioto County Commissioner Facebook page.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneallenPDT on Twitter.