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Published: 11/2/2008

It s experience vs. a new voice in Fulton County s only contest

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON A county commissioner seat is the only contested race voters will see on the Fulton County ballot, which is dominated by incumbents who are running unopposed.

Republican Dean Genter, who is seeking a third term as commissioner, is being challenged by Democrat Michael T. Van Wagner.

Mr. Genter, 50, of Pettisville, said that in these difficult economic times, the county needs experience on the board. We have a lot of unfinished work here in the county, he said. You hear of job loss and scale-downs of companies, but we continue in Fulton County to be proactive with our business retention and expansion program.

Mr. Van Wagner, 53, of Swanton, said corruption in county government needs to be shaken up with a new voice. He questions tax breaks to companies and the hiring of people close to other county officials.

It s a good ol boy network, he said. It s so much blanketing corruption that nobody can say anything at all without fear.

The men are seeking a four-year term commencing Jan. 2 on the three-person board. Comissioner Paul Barnaby is running unopposed to retain his seat.

Commissioners in Fulton County make $44,200 annually.

Mr. Genter, a farmer, said he is familiar with the county s proactive approach to attracting and retaining businesses. He said he has experience on a number of boards that keep him active and informed in the community.

This is not a time to bring in somebody else to try to understand the issues when the issues are so important, he said.

Mr. Van Wagner, an electrician, said part of the reason he s running is to bring to light some of the issues in the county he thinks need to be exposed. He said he pays close attention to the dollars and can find ways to bring more money into the county. I m telling people what do you think about this, do you think something is fishy here? he said.

The county of about 42,000 has a blend of a strong agricultural base and business and industry. The majority of the nearly 30,000 registered voters are independents or undeclared about 14,000 with the remaining split pretty evenly between Republicans and Democrats, with a slight Republican lead, according to the county s board of elections.

• LOCAL ISSUES

For the first time since it was chartered in 1936, the Swanton Public Library is asking voters to approve an operating levy.

This latest chapter in the library s history is tied to the tough economic times. The library has made budget cuts, but dwindling revenue from the state coupled with escalating costs, such as for books and utilities, triggered the ballot request, a 0.5-mill, five-year levy.

Since 2001, the state revenues have been on a downward trend, said Linda Slaninka, the library s director.

If approved, the levy would compensate for shortfalls in state funds and would generate $102,000 annually, she said. It would cost about $15 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Other issues voters will see on the ballot:

• Fulton Township is asking its residents for a new tax to fund fire and rescue services and to provide and maintain fire apparatus and appliances. The 1.5-mill, five-year levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $46 a year.

• Royalton Township has a replacement levy on the ballot for maintaining and improving roads in the township and the Village of Lyons. The 1-mill, five-year levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $31.

• Dover Township is asking voters to continue to support fire, rescue, and ambulance services by renewing a 1-mill, five-year levy. It would continue to cost a $100,000 homeowner $31 annually.

• Voters also will see a replacement tax request for the Four County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board that serves Defiance, Fulton, Henry, and Williams counties. The 0.7-mill, five-year levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $21 a year.

Staff writer Janet Romaker contributed to this report.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:mgilbert@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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