TIFFIN — At his first meeting since Seneca County voters chose two new commissioners to represent them, Ben Nutter declined to comment on what ended his bid for a third term on the board.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve made in the last few years,” Mr. Nutter said. “Seneca County is in a more secure financial place because of what we’ve done. The only reason I’m doing this job is because I love Seneca County and this community. I wish the next board all the luck.”
Mr. Nutter, a Democrat who voted to demolish the county’s historic 1884 courthouse, was defeated by first-time challenger Fred Zoeller, a Republican and local business owner.
Fellow lame-duck commissioner Dave Sauber — who was defeated by Holly Stacy in the GOP primary last March — said he is certain poor timing in light of the courthouse debate ended his bid for re-election. Mrs. Stacy went on to defeat independent candidate Paul Shoemaker in the general election.
“I was not in favor of tearing down the courthouse, but at that time of the election, the building was coming down, the exterior walls were being broken open, and the people were seeing what was left in there. There was no salvage. There was just a rush to get through it,” Mr. Sauber said, referring to Mr. Nutter’s and Commissioner Jeff Wagner’s decision to proceed with the courthouse demolition last January. “The $425,000 we spent to demolish the courthouse, we sure could be using it now."
“I never wanted to sell the museum, either. Certain board members did, then one changed his mind,” Mr. Sauber continued, referring to Mr. Nutter’s initial support to sell the county-run Seneca County Museum and his later decision that the museum should be kept. “Unfortunately, I got lumped in with the other two commissioners on both issues. I still have to defend myself to the general public every day about that.”
The board of commissioners ultimately agreed this year to lease the museum to the Seneca County Historical Society, with the stipulation that the county would no longer contribute funds to operate it.
Both Mr. Sauber and Mr. Nutter have been commissioners for eight years. Both said they are satisfied with the way they have served the residents and managed the county’s money.
“We’ve reduced 18 percent of our budget. Many people don’t realize there’s been no reduction of services,” Mr. Sauber said, referring to the board’s budgeting in the last few years. “We've just been very frugal with what we have, and we’ve had great cooperation from other elected officials and the employees.”
“All the construction and projects — the jail expansion, [Seneca County Agency Transportation] building, and juvenile detention center — have been done without borrowing any money,” he added.
Mr. Sauber said he plans to run against Jeff Wagner if Mr. Wagner decides to seek re-election in two years.