Absentee voting starts Nov. 16 in the race between a crop farmer and a real estate appraiser for a seat on the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors.
Mike Holland, who raises corn, soybeans, and wheat in Fulton and Lenawee counties, is competing against incumbent Rod Miller, a retired AT&T communication technician who is an appraiser with Westfall Realty Inc. in West Unity and a crop insurance adjustor with Wells Fargo.
Mr. Miller is finishing his first three-year term on the board that carries out federal, state, and local conservation programs with a staff of five employees.
The board's operating budget this year is $387,000, which does not include most payments to landowners.
One of the largest programs in which the district is involved is the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which rents farmland for grass waterways, windbreaks, and wetlands.
Both candidates have taken part in programs administered by the office.
Mr. Holland, 47, who lives in Amboy Township by the Royalton Township line, has installed waterways, windbreaks, and filter strips between farmland and waterways with assistance from the district office.
Mr. Miller, 59, who lives in Gorham Township a half-mile from the Williams County line, has planted about 25,000 hardwood trees - mostly oak, ash, and maple - on about 20 acres over the past 30 years with government funds covering most of the expenses. He's also taken part in the Conservation Reserve Program.
If re-elected, he said he hopes to help the board generate more income so that it could hire more employees for its programs.
The conservation district, he said, appears to be getting a smaller slice of state funds as cuts are made.
"We're always on the back burner," he said.
Among the possibilities he said the board is mulling are taking on more regulation duties for building lots or putting a tax request on the ballot.
Mr. Holland, who spoke to The Blade from a combine while harvesting last week, said that if elected, he would try to promote conservation and education of the public about the board's programs.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old and a Fulton County resident can vote in the election. Typically, 200 to 300 ballots are cast.
Ballots can be cast in person from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the district's annual banquet at Founders Hall in Archbold or anytime from Nov. 16 until Dec. 7 at the district offices on State Rt. 108 across from the Fulton County Fairgrounds in Dover Township.
Absentee ballots can be requested by calling the district office at 419-337-9217 and requesting a ballot application to be mailed. When the signed application is returned to the district office, staff will mail a ballot.
Results are to be announced at the banquet Dec. 7.
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