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Published: Friday, 2/29/2008

Fulton County election features familiar faces

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Familiar faces are on the ballot for two commissioners' seats and the prosecutor's post in Fulton County, where candidates are talking about farmland preservation, job retention, leadership experience, and communication as they wrap up the last days of their campaigns before Tuesday's primary election.

Contenders for county commissioner are incumbents Dean Genter and Paul Barnaby; Dan Bruner, a 12-year member of the Pettisville Board of Education, and Ivan Hite, a former member of Wauseon City Council.

Scott Haselman, a Swanton councilman, and Paul Kennedy, the chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Fulton County, are running for prosecutor. Roger Nagel, the prosecutor since 2004, is not seeking re-election.

The six candidates are Republicans.

Mr. Genter faces off against Mr. Bruner for one of the commissioner seats, and Tuesday's winner will go up against Democrat Michael VanWagner of Swanton in November.

For the other seat on the three-member board of commissioners, Mr. Barnaby is opposed by Mr. Hite. No others had filed by yesterday. The deadline for independents to file is Monday; the deadline for write-ins is later in the year.

"I think I still have value," Mr. Barnaby, a commissioner since 2001, said of his decision to seek another term. "I have seven-and-a-part years of training on the job, and I think in these hard, troubled times, I have value. I still enjoy being around people."

A retired teacher from Evergreen Local Schools, Mr. Barnaby said he has a keen interest in preserving farmland "so that our grandchildren might have a place where they know where food comes from. We are losing land at an incredible [rate], we're losing good farmland."

Farmland preservation should be an interest for everybody so people know that "milk does not come from a carton, but from a cow," Mr. Barnaby, 69, of Metamora said.

Mr. Hite said, as a commissioner, he would hold the line on taxes and spending in county government.

"Small businesses are able to create new and better-paying jobs when taxes and government spending are held in check. Communication between elected officials and the business community will help promote economic growth throughout the county," Mr. Hite, a Wauseon councilman from 2000 to 2005, said. He is a barber and is involved in real estate investment.

A Clinton Township trustee, Mr. Hite of Wauseon said that with the county facing continued growth, it needs competent, visionary, forward-thinking leaders who are committed to working with local leaders to plan for growth and development while actively finding solutions to challenges today.

Mr. Bruner, 52, is a resource management specialist for the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation District, where he has worked 18 years.

"I have a lot of experience in public service, and I have a lot to bring to public office."

As commissioner, he said, he would work to develop and improve land-use policies that deal with urban growth and farmland preservation.

Other concerns include "working on the jobless rate. Hopefully we can find some things we can do to retain businesses and growth," Mr. Bruner, who lives near Pettisville, said.

As commissioner, he said he would work with local and state officials and county residents to address concerns, such as job retention and financial stability.

"Together, we can find solutions to turn our problems into opportunities for improvement. Working on solutions together can only make Fulton County stronger and better equipped to provide services to its residents," Mr. Bruner said.

Mr. Genter of Pettisville, a commissioner since 2001, is seeking another term because he said he wants to continue to develop the projects and programs, such as working with village, township, and city officials to retain and expand business and industry, that he has tackled during the last several years. One of his goals is to bring well-paying jobs to the area while keeping in mind the county's strong agricultural heritage.

"That is essential here - how we plan for growth. We have to have a plan in place to balance between both quality jobs and our agricultural community," said Mr. Genter, who is a grain and livestock farmer.

If re-elected, Mr. Genter, 49, said he would continue to "provide common sense to any decision-making in the county. As a team, we work together as commissioners to move Fulton County forward. That is essential to do."

In the prosecutor's race, Mr. Haselman is campaigning on a platform of "new energy and new leadership," saying, "We can achieve safer communities through more aggressive prosecution of criminals and deterrence, and by seeking justice for victims of crime."

Mr. Haselman, 38, the 1995 class valedictorian of the University of Toledo law school, said he has the experience to be a successful prosecutor. As a partner at the Robison, Curphey & O'Connell law firm in Toledo, where he's worked 12 years, he's involved in litigation and has been responsible for managing, training, and overseeing activities of other attorneys.

A Swanton councilman since 2002, he has been council president/vice mayor since 2005. He also has been a member of the safety committee, overseeing the village's police department. Mr. Haselman said he understands issues important to law enforcement personnel, and he knows that the prosecutor's office must stand behind and support those on the front lines of ensuring public safety.

Mr. Kennedy, 39, of Archbold, a 1994 graduate of the University of Toledo law school, has been an assistant prosecutor since 1995.

He said he knows "firsthand what the community expects of a prosecutor - a strong, decisive leader. I have dedicated my entire legal career to keeping the citizens of Fulton County safe and making sure that justice prevails."

Mr. Kennedy's plans, if elected, include maintaining safe and friendly communities in Fulton County by being responsive to the most vulnerable victims of crime, by targeting the drug activities that drive many criminal offenses, and by being approachable and highly visible in Fulton County by participating in events and organizations that invest in the communities.

No other candidate has filed for the prosecutor's job.

Voters across the county will cast ballots on several issues, including a countywide 0.7-mill, five-year replacement levy for the 911 system. If approved, the levy would generate $656,904 annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $21.44 a year, Nancy Yackee, Fulton County auditor, said.

Residents in the Pike-Delta-York Local School District will decide whether to approve a 5.1-mill, 28-year bond levy that would allow the district to make improvements, including construction of a new prekindergarten-through-grade-four building and renovations at the middle and high schools. PDY's bond issue, if approved, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $157 a year, and it would generate $726,737 a year.

Pike-Delta-York would receive $15.5 million in state assistance through the Ohio School Facilities Commission to modernize the district's facilities if voters approve the ballot issue, which includes a request for a 0.5-mill continuing maintenance levy. That levy would generate $71,249 a year, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 a year. The state facilities commission requires such levies for projects that it helps fund.

In Pike Township, residents will vote on a 0.5-mill, five-year replacement levy for fire and emergency medical services. If approved, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 a year, and it would generate $16,551 a year.

Voters in Gorham Township, including the village of Fayette, will decide whether to approve a 1.5-mill, five-year levy for the general operation of the Gorham-Fayette Fire Department. The levy, if approved, would generate $46,169 annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $45.94 a year, the auditor said.

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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