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Commission race draws contest

Appointed incumbent wants to keep seat


The son-in-law of a former county commissioner wants to unseat the newest member of the county’s governing body in a race that would be his first political battle and the second for his opponent.

Right now that race between Democrat Carl Robinson and incumbent Bill Pratt, a Republican, is one of only two contested races in 2012 and the only one in the general election. The other race where there may be opposition would be in the Republican primary. There incumbent coroner Kurt Hofmann may face off with Rodolfo Canos and Kimberly Lauder.

In April the Republican Party’s central committee appointed Pratt, dairy farmer and then Chesapeake school board member, to fill a vacancy on commission left when Jason Stephens was elected county auditor.

Now Robinson, son-in-law of Mark Malone, a former commissioner and state representative, wants that place on commission.

The one-time correctional officer at the defunct Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility calls himself a fresh face with fresh ideas. Robinson lost his job when statewide budget cuts shut down the facility.

“I think Lawrence County needs a voice,” Robinson said. “We need more jobs. If you live south of Columbus, they forget about you here. If it takes me going up (to Columbus) once a week, I am going to do it.”

Besides bringing jobs to the county, Robinson wants the commission to continue working with port authorities, local councils and mayors and supporting the sheriff’s fight against drugs.

“We have a serious drug problem in Lawrence County,” he said. “Our kids have nothing to do. … One bowling alley and we don’t have a movie theater in Lawrence County. We need to have stuff for our children to do.”

Robinson said he had considered running for office before but found it a conflict of interest because of his state job.

“Once the job shut down, this is my opportunity,” he said. “I have enough people around me that I can get advice from. If I don’t know the answer, I can get the answer.

“I am for the working man. I am a big union guy. That is my biggest reason for being a Democrat. People will know where I stand on stuff. I am not wishy washy on stuff.”

After six months in office Pratt says he is most proud of the commission acting as fiscal agent for such projects as building a new barn at the fairgrounds and repairing damage road infrastructure.

“In the future projects, job creation is most important,” Pratt said. “I think that heavy industry is what Lawrence County is best suited for. We really need to utilize our natural resources with river and rail.”

Pratt also wants to create a manufacturing council to guide county companies to better profitability.

Also on the November ballot are unopposed races for county engineer, county treasurer, clerk of courts, recorder and another seat on commission. Incumbents are running in all races.

County Commissioner Les Boggs, seeking his second term, said he wants to continue to improve the financial health of the county.

“If you count the unpaid bills when I came into office, we were $350,000 in the red,” he said. “And now we have all the bills paid and we are going to have a $1 million carryover. We brought financial stability to the county and we want to improve on that.”

Next year will the first time for County Engineer Doug Cade to be on the ballot for the job he was appointed to in February after the retirement of David Lynd.

“There are a lot of things we wanted to start working on when we came into office but because of the flood disaster had to put those plans on hold,” he said. “We have been able to work on efficiencies to stretch dollars as far as possible.”

Going for her third term is County Recorder Sharon Gossett Hager.

“I take great pride in what I do,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy what I do. There is a lot more I would like to get accomplished. I hope the voters agree so I can accomplish that in office.”

Dec. 7 is the last day to file for office for the 2012 election.