Forum provides insight on political issues
BURLINGTON — Jobs and jails were the hot button topics on Thursday night at Burlington Elementary School.
The school was the site for the annual Concerned Citizens of the Burlington Area Meet the Candidates forum. Several candidates running for positions within Lawrence County were on hand to speak and take questions from residents as well as hopefuls from the Sixth District Congressional race.
Each addressed a variety of issues and political philosophies but two topics were constants throughout the night.
“Jobs, that is the main issue,” said Tanner Heaberlin, a former county commissioner and Democrat running for the office for the second time in six years. “It’s all about the economics. Get people good paying jobs; crime rates and everything are affected. It’s a cycle.
“The other thing is that jail. We need to be on the fast track to getting the property for it and getting that issue solved.”
Other candidates for county commissioner who spoke during the forum were Democrat Tim Edwards, Republian Wayne Taylor and incumbent Freddie Hayes Jr.
“I know tonight is about my issues,” Edwards said. “I can have my issues, but I’m just one man. What really matters are the opinions and the issues of the people in this county. I won’t promise things I can’t deliver, but I will promise availability and that I’ll work hard to solve the issues the people want solved.”
Taylor, who is the current president of the Symmes Valley Board of Education, focused on getting things done in a more efficient manner.
“To me the issues are the jail and the Union-Rome sewer,” Taylor said. “Jobs of course but that one is obvious. These things like the jail and sewer are issues that I think can get resolved a little quicker and easier.”
In election races incumbent candidates have the advantage of the people knowing their track record. But, in case anyone at the forum, had forgotten Hayes, the other Republican candidate, reminded voters of the things he had done for Lawrence County.
“One of the things I am most proud of is that I stood against the (proposed emergency services) levy,” Hayes said. “I keep hearing everyone say increase, increase, increase. I think we need some decrease. No more tax increases where in the end the people end up with no more or less service. I’ve stood against that.”
In the congressional race, the only candidate who came was Green Party contender and Pedro resident Dennis Lambert although; Democrat Jennifer Garrison and Progressive candidate Gregory Howard did send representatives to speak on their behalf.
“Jennifer Garrison is sorry she couldn’t be here but she had a prior engagement,” said Charlie Hale, Garrison’s campaign manager. “We look at D.C. and we see a broken Washington. We see politicians who weren’t even able to keep the government running. Garrison has shown an ability to work with members of all parties and that is what it’s going to take to fix the issues in D.C.”
Once Lambert had his turn to speak he took the discussion back to the economy and the creation of jobs, but with an environmental twist.
“I’m running on a simple platform of jobs, the environment, and veterans,” Lambert said. “I believe those first two go hand in hand. In southern Ohio we have a great energy source in the Ohio River. We should be utilizing such sources to create new jobs and cleaner more efficient energy options.”
Lambert’s environmental views were challenged during the question and answer segment as audience members asked him about coal.
“Look, coal is finite,” Lambert said. “It won’t sustain us forever. We’ve also got the technology to move past it. We aren’t all listening to victrolas; we’ve moved on to MP3s. So why do we hang on to coal and other fossil fuels so fervently?”
The event ended with the serving of snacks and refreshments and the intermingling of the politicians and residents. The Ohio primary election will be held on May 6. Voters can request to vote for either the Republican or Democratic primary. To vote for a candidate from a third party, one must request a specific ballot for that party.