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Edwards, Hayes going for place on commission

With less than 48 hours before the polls open on Tuesday, the two candidates vying one seat on the Lawrence County Commission plan to keep on keeping on as far as campaigning goes.

Both candidates say they feel confident about the outcome.

“It is going real well,” said Tim Edwards, Democratic candidate who wants to unseat Republican incumbent Freddie Hayes Jr. “I am getting a good response from a lot of people, knocking on doors.”

This is Hayes’ second general election race and the first for a full four-year term since he was appointed to fill the seat of Paul Herrell upon his death in February of 2012. Hayes then ran for the first time to fill Herrell’s unexpired term that fall, beating former county commissioner Doug Malone by approximately 1 percent of the vote.

“It is going good,” Hayes said. “We have worked hard and I believe we are going to be all right.”

Two potentially controversial levies on the ballot — the Ironton flood levy and South Point police levy — Hayes acknowledged, could influence voter turnout and affect vote count.

“He will do pretty good against me (in Ironton),” Hayes said. “But once we’re above the Ashland bridge, I think we will do good. I will do better in South Point.”

Both men say the best quality they bring to the plate is experience.

“One of the big things I bring is life experience,” said Edwards, who owns two businesses. “I’ve been a working man my whole life. I am not influenced by anyone or anything. I have no baggage. I see through the eyes of a working man.”

For Hayes, who has operated a restaurant chain and fresh produce business, his experience comes from the time he has spent so far on the commission.

“I have done this job for the last two and a half years,” he said. “And of course my business background.”

The two hot-button issues for the campaign for both men are bringing jobs to the county and moving the jail to Franklin Furnace.

Earlier this year the county commission unanimously voted to take over a 100-bed section of the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility to serve as the county jail that has been under fire for not meeting state regulations.

“They said they were moving the jail and that is the last we heard of it,” Edwards said. “There is no plan on how to pay for it. The Lawrence County people should be prepared for what the plans are. That is a fair question.

“The biggest (issue) is how to pay for a new jail and not from the working man’s pocket. I don’t have access to the budget. I have to find some way to pay for it. I don’t want to end up in fiscal emergency.”

Hayes wants to build on what he calls his current record of bringing jobs to the county.

“We are going to continue working with the economic team to get more jobs,” he said. “We’ve got over 400 already and there will be 300 shortly. We are going to continue the tax abatements if we have to and try to get people in and start new businesses.”

Neither man expects to wait for the returns at the courthouse. Edwards plans to be at his business on State Route 93 and Hayes will be with family.