Pair of primaries slatedPublished 12:19am Sunday, May 4, 2014
County commission hopefuls talk jail, sewer and jobs
Jobs, the county jail and sewer rates are adding up to be the issues in the race for Lawrence County Commissioner.
The seat currently held by Freddie Hayes Jr. is up and three others besides Hayes are seeking it making both Republican and Democratic primaries contested.
Hayes and Wayne Taylor are vying for the Republican nomination while Tanner Heaberlin and Tim Edwards are seeking the Democratic spot on the general election ballot.
Hayes, a Scottown businessman and graduate of Symmes Valley High School, is running on the platform of getting a new jail and lowering the rates for those who subscribe to the Union-Rome Sewer System.
“The jail is very important,” Hayes said. “We have the overcrowding problem. I am for moving it down to Franklin Furnace or building a new jail. But I am not for raising taxes to build a jail.”
Hayes, 40, was appointed to the commission following the death of Paul Herrell in February 2012. He ran for the seat to fill Herrell’s unexpired term in November, beating Doug Malone, who had previously served on the commission.
“We are going to do everything we can to lower the (Union-Rome Sewer District) rates,” Hayes said. “I am 100 percent behind that. I also want to make sure we keep our public safety and that everybody is employed. Jobs are a main concern, getting more jobs into this county. We are going to work with The Point (industrial park) and continue our work with them. We are part of that economical team, hoping to give incentives, whatever we need to do to get jobs in here.”
Hayes said he is also working to get senior citizens a center in the county.
“I am a full-time commissioner,” he said. “That is the only job I have now. I am a true voice for the people and a proven conservative.”
Facing Hayes in the Republican primary is Taylor, of Kitts Hill, an electronic engineer. He is a graduate of Symmes Valley High School and has a two-year degree from Rio Grande University.
“I think the hot spots are the Union-Rome sewer prices and problems up there that need fixing,” Taylor said.
He is proposing a 15 percent discount in sewer rates for those residents who qualify for the Homestead Exemption on their property taxes.
“The jail is very much a hot topic,” Taylor, 53, said. “I really feel strongly we need to keep the jail in Lawrence County and investigate our options further. I appreciate the efforts being put in the jail and proposed alternatives, but don’t see how Scioto will work out. There are too many technical things to spending our money down that direction, even though they will give us the facility. To staff it and the legality of it being in Scioto County and not Lawrence County, who has the jurisdiction.”
Taylor is running because he says he can offer the voters a choice.
“I think I can bring my education and experience to the table and do something for Lawrence County,” he said. “I offer a brighter future for Lawrence County. We have to look at these things. There are a lot of challenges for Lawrence County. We need to improve our infrastructure, cell phone coverage and Internet coverage and make Lawrence County more attractive for businesses to want to come to Lawrence County.”
On the Democratic primary ticket is Tim Edwards, a Dawson-Bryant High School graduate, U.S. Navy veteran and owner of Tim’s 93 Gas and Go. He is also a retired correctional officer from the Federal Correctional Institution in Summit, Ky.
“I have said from the start it is not really my issues we need to look at,” Edwards, 49, said. “We need to look at what (the people) need, what their wants are. We need to listen to them. I can’t see one man’s issues being the most important. I believe the issues of Lawrence County are the most important.”
Edwards is running because he says the timing is right for the common working man to enter the race.
“I felt as far as running for commission, it is where a man could make the most difference,” he said. “The main thing I would hope to accomplish is to try and recruit some jobs and industry. We can’t sit here and wait on it. Try to sweeten the pot and bring it in. We have people who want to work.”
His opponent is Tanner Heaberlin, a South Point High School social studies teacher. Heaberlin, 33, is a Rock Hill High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio University. Heaberlin was appointed to the commission in 2007 following the death of George Patterson. He was beaten in the 2008 general election by current Commission President Les Boggs.
He sees three main campaign issues.
“First and foremost is jobs,” he said. “I believe jobs can solve a lot of problems that we have. People with jobs don’t normally commit as many crimes. Jobs is No. 1. I think we have to become as business friendly as possible.”
The second issue is the jail, Heaberlin said.
“Passing up the deal the state has given us would be a huge mistake,” he said. “Us trying to foot the bill for an $11 million facility doesn’t make any sense. We shouldn’t look that gift horse in the mouth. If we pass it up, I don’t think the state would work with us any more.”
The third issue is transparency in government.
“When I was on commission the first time, we got the meeting time changed to the evening so more citizens could attend,” he said. “Open up the budget process so citizens could come and give their ideas. Someone in the business community could come in or a person who works 9 to 5 could come in.
“As a teacher I see a lot of kids graduating and go away to college and that makes me very proud,” he said. “I would be much happier if they could come back and use their degrees. Jobs that you can support a family on is extremely important that we create. … Create jobs and get the jail taken care of and make sure safety issues are all square.”