Ask the Guy who is Running for Office

Yes, folks, after a lifetime of covering, mocking, questioning and investigating elected officials I made the decision, a few months ago, to stand for the office of County Commissioner for my rural county in Ohio.

Given my history of covering politics and politicians I thought it would be fun to spend some time answering questions here about the process and my impressions of being on the other side of the notepad, as it were.

So far It’s been fun. A lot of meetings and groups to speak to. I find that giving stump speeches isn’t that difficult. The hardest part is learning to NOT speak all the time and to make certain I listen more than I speak. That part is a matter of learning discipline.

Anyway, I have permission from Tubadiva to open this thread (I asked) and I hope I can do some chronicling and question answering.

Mr. Chance, one of the trickier functions of local government is ensuring that public records are readily accessible to the citizens. How familiar are you with Ohio’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws? Do you believe your county does a sufficient job of complying with these laws? If not, how would you fix that problem? Do you intend to take advantage of the free training your AG’s office offers regarding these laws? (See: . Have you any intention of improving county government transparency beyond that mandated by state law?

(Sorry, man - but DC is pretty bad at transparency, despite a strong law, and I regard this as one of the hardest things for local government to do well.)

With the policy question out of the way, a campaign question: Are you at all worried that your opponent will find out your Dope username? What about your participation on other message boards? Do you have a strategy to deal with the stupid things you might have said (as we all do from time to time) five years ago, if they come to light now?

I spent some time on the town council, so the first question is: Does Mrs. Chance know about this and is she ok with people talking to her about you in the supermarket, library, playground etc…

Has your county ever had a balanced budget? What platform are you standing on? How are you with public criticism?

I like that you have been writing about the commission for a long time before deciding to run. Your knowledge of all the old commissioners and members will help you greatly I’m sure you know.

Congratulations! Have fun with it, and yes, remember to listen as you mentioned.

As a former journalist I am a strong supporter of public records laws and have been a loud user of them over the years. While the county in which I’m running has not always been very good at this things have improved during recent years and I hope to continue that growth toward increased openness in government. It is, after all, the information of the citizens of the county and not proprietary to the commissioners. We should behave as if all information, with the exception of sensitive national security information (of which we have some), should be available to the public and media.

Well, I’ll be glib about it. Frankly, I’m more concerned about people throwing up things I’ve said in my (now former) paper’s editorials over the last several years than message board posts!

I like the way you think, and would cheerfully subscribe to your newsletter.

I’m curious, though - what sort of problems have you run into from mid-level or junior government officials in trying to use the sunshine laws? It’s all well and good for a County Commissioner to believe in open government - how are you going to ensure that this belief filters down to the level where people actually interact with the county? Would you try to implement training? Send clerks to the state training program? Insist that supervisors evaluation compliance with open records laws in assessing candidates for promotion?

Do you have a website? Does it have any stick figure cartoons on it?

Training has been available, both in person and online, for quite some time. Where I’ve found the system has broken down is with the commissioners themselves. We’ve had incidents with current and former commissioners where information has been destroyed or hidden and law enforcement has gotten involved. I would hope that would be a good object lesson.

It won’t have stick figures, I’m relatively certain. But it’ll be up shortly.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?

No questions – but as a former candidate and campaign manager, I say good luck and enjoy yourself!

No, actually. I’m a centrist democrat running on a business growth platform. Our community never suffered from the recent housing collapse because we never had a run up. Over the late unpleasantness, in a community (across two counties) of 120,000, we’ve seen more than 6000 high-paying manufacturing jobs fold up and go away. It’s not been a pretty sight.

Matt! I remember when you ran. NDP, right? Thanks for the kind words!

Congratulations, and thank you for running! We need more of that. :slight_smile:

What are you doing to promote local self-reliance?

I have an economic incentive plan that rewards small entrepreneurs with start up capital. I want to take our local citizens from being employees to employers. It provides help with start up, taxing, accounting and such. In my experience those are the things new business owners need most.

What happens when all of your constituents start to get angry at all of the tax breaks you gave to new businesses?

That one seems to come up all the time around here (Macedonia, in northern Summit county). In fact, I think we’re voting for a new tax levy right now, and also cutting government jobs, and that seems to be the big thing everyone is riled up about.

Me, I see the wisdom in tax breaks for new businesses. But how do you explain it?

As a resident of Ross county, will I be able to vote for you? I gather from your reference to the closing of the air freight operation that we’re at least in the same general area.

I don’t see it happening as that’s not in the plan. My plan is to provide micro assistance to small one and two man starts in what I call a ‘gardening’ program. We provide a little start up capital (up to about 20K) and advice for those resident in the county who wish to start businesses, providing their plan gets vetted.

As for those larger firms that come through periodically that demand such there’s never been a real backlash around here. People are happy for the jobs at this point. I find it distasteful, myself, however. I would much prefer to help start multiple small businesses that can grow and spread.

Not anytime soon, I’m afraid! I’m a hour or two to your east!

I wish you could. It’ll take me about 12500 votes to win.

Good luck! I realize now that you weren’t talking about the air freight shut-down in Wilmington, you are in the other direction. I saw 6,000 jobs and immediately leaped to the conclusion that you were talking about DHL. Southern Ohio has certainly lost a lot of jobs.