Heaberlin has right ideas for county commission

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The contest between Tanner Heaberlin and Les Boggs for county commissioner has drawn the attention of many Lawrence County voters, including me.

This year’s local elections carry unusually high stakes given the county’s dire financial status. I believe the candidate who has the will to hold the county and its officials accountable for their management of the taxpayers’ money and to ask the difficult questions should be elected, and Mr. Heaberlin has proven to me that he is the right candidate for the task.

Over the past decade, the county’s finances have been mismanaged in embarrassing fashion. The annual budget carry-over has disappeared and county offices have been forced to make severe budget cuts.

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A former county employee was even paid for six months after her termination. Heaberlin addressed the issue and attempted to retrieve that money. That is what a county commissioner should do — ensure that the county manages its funds responsibly and efficiently.

Lawrence County only needs to look to the recent improvements the city of Ironton has made. The status quo of the past decade was broken and new ideas and enthusiasm developed when new officials were elected, and Ironton’s future has brightened as a direct result.

Just as what happened in Ohio under the Taft administration and at the federal level during the past decade, government has become stale and gross mismanagement has resulted. I think Heaberlin will bring a dynamic of freshness to Lawrence County.

Both candidates offer impressive backgrounds. However, Heaberlin has answered every question about the county’s finances with a substantive and straight-forward response. After reading The Tribune’s articles covering the candidates and looking at Boggs’s Web site, I have noticed a lack of specifics. Boggs says he has brought 19 improvements to the Clerk of Courts office, but does not specifically name them.

Also, the health care plan that Mr. Boggs offers merely shifts the costs the county would save onto the county’s employees. The deductible is expected to be between $2,000 and $2,500! I disagree with placing this heavy burden on public employees and their families.

Furthermore, why has the state audit of county funds not been published yet? Lawrence County voters have been robbed of an objective indication of how county officials have spent their money.

As an Ironton native attending school outside the county, I am considering whether I should move home and start my career in Lawrence County after graduation. One of the factors in my decision is the county’s ability to attract new business and put my tax money to good use.

Prospective business owners certainly look at these same factors in determining whether or not to open shop in Lawrence County. Heaberlin has a record of protecting taxpayer money in a watchdog role, and I believe that is exactly what Lawrence County needs right now.