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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

Ottawa County: Sheriff rivals wage heated campaign

BY STEVE MURPHY AND ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

A contentious race for Ottawa County sheriff between the department's chief deputy and the police chief of Rocky Ridge tops the county's general election ballot.

Bob Bratton, a Genoa Democrat who has worked for retiring Sheriff Craig Emahiser since 1993, is banking on his nearly 30 years in law enforcement to persuade voters to choose him over Bud Chasteen of Benton Township for the sheriff's post, which pays $53,993 a year. Before joining the sheriff's department, Deputy Bratton, 51, was a full-time police officer and detective for Northwood, a patrolman for Sylvania Township, and a sheriff's deputy in Lucas County.

Chief Chasteen, 53, who has been Rocky Ridge police chief since 1996, owns two Ottawa County businesses: a computer sales and service company and a construction firm. That, he argues, gives him the business acumen needed to properly manage the sheriff's $4.1 million budget.

Before joining the Rocky Ridge department, Chief Chasteen worked for 13 years as a part-time patrolman and detective in Clay Township, four years as a part-time officer for the village of Genoa, and two years as an auxiliary patrolman in Oak Harbor.

If elected sheriff, Chief Chasteen said he would save money by having the department's employees type memos and other paperwork instead of using an outside agency. He also said he would scrutinize cell-phone records for unnecessary usage.

Deputy Bratton said he is working with the county commissioners to resolve funding issues in the department, especially overtime costs, and that he would strive to maintain current staffing and services despite a tight budget. He said that if elected, he would consider hiring at least one extra corrections officer to cut down on overtime.

Voters also will fill two county commissioner seats, each of which carry annual salaries of $40,284. Republican Steven Arndt, 49, of Elmore, is unopposed for re-election, while three-term Democratic incumbent Carl Koebel is being challenged by first-time candidate Jenine Porter.

Mr. Koebel, 61, of Port Clinton, points to a list of county accomplishments in the past eight years, including a nearly $5 million renovation of the Ottawa County Courthouse, upgrades to the county's water and sewer service, and the opening of the Ottawa County Community Resource Center, a one-stop jobs facility near Oak Harbor.

But Ms. Porter, 47, of Catawba Island Township, argues that Mr. Koebel and his colleagues have focused on the wrong areas and allowed the county's employment and public services to decline.

Before being elected commissioner in 1996, Mr. Koebel worked 17 years as director of environmental health for the Ottawa County Health Department. Ms. Porter is marketing director for the Vineyard on Catawba retirement home.

Ms. Porter said the county needs to beef up job training programs and economic development efforts to attract light industrial employers to replace the manufacturing jobs lost in the last two decades.

In the only other contested race for county office, Republican Jerome McTague, 40, of Harris Township is challenging Coroner Gilbert Bucholz, a 66-year-old Democrat from Danbury Township. Dr. McTague, an emergency room physician at Fremont Memorial Hospital and an attorney, lost to Dr. Bucholz in the 2000 race for coroner, a position which has an annual salary of $25,494.18.

Besides selecting candidates for county and federal offices, voters will decide numerous municipal issues.

Elmore will be on the ballot with a three-year, 2.5-mill replacement tax levy that, if approved, would go toward resurfacing roads and the general upkeep of streets and bridges.

The levy would cost a $100,000 homeowner $78 a year and would raise $57,400 a year.

The village also is seeking a three-year, 3-mill replacement tax levy for solid waste collection that village officials said would help pay for day-to-day trash and recycling pickup and the Saturday unlimited pick-up days.

The levy would bring in $68,900 a year and would cost $94 for a $100,000 homeowner.

Rocky Ridge is asking for a five-year, 2.5-mill operating levy that would raise $10,000 a year to help pay for a new water system, according to village officials.

Passage of the levy would cost $78 for a person who owns a $100,000 home.

A five-year, 4-mill fire renewal levy is also on the ballot for Rocky Ridge and would be used for training, equipment, and everyday expenses for the fire department.

The levy costs $105 for a $100,000 homeowner and generates $14,300 a year.

A five-year, 1-mill, operating levy renewal that has been approved twice before will be on the ballot for Harris Township. It would mostly be used for fire equipment, emergency medical services expenses, and other everyday operational costs, township officials said.

The levy generates $58,000 a year and costs $19 for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Other communities with issues on the ballot include:

• Port Clinton: Question to continue collecting tax on S corporation shareholders' net profits.

• Marblehead: Referendum on village noise ordinance.

• Benton Township: 1.5-mill, five-year additional tax levy for current expenses.

• Catawba Island Township: Zoning referendum on Application 7632.

• Danbury Township: Zoning referendum on Application #073-04.

• Portage Township, Precinct 10: Local option, 10 a.m. Sunday liquor sales, Bassett's Market only.

• Portage Township, Precinct 10: Local option, 10 a.m. Sunday liquor sales, Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse only.

• Put-in-Bay Township: 1.5-mill, five-year replacement levy (with reduction) for current expenses.

• County issue: 0.3-mill, three-year additional tax levy for senior citizen services and facilities.

• County issue: Mental health and rehabilitation services, 0.3-mill, five-year renewal tax levy for current operating expenses.

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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