Five candidates running for Clermont County commissioner participated in a forum held on the U.C. Clermont college campus Feb. 7.
The two-hour candidate forum, which was sponsored by the college and the Clermont County League of Women Voters, was attended by approximately 175 people and included Democrat Theresa Conover, Republican Ed Humphrey, Republican incumbent Mary Walker, Democrat Alex Lambros, and Republican Archie Wilson.
In all, two seats are up for the vote on March 4. Incumbents Mary Walker and Bob Proud are running to retain their seats; challengers from both the democrat and republican parties have filed to seek the two available positions. All of the registered candidates who met the Clermont County Board of Election’s filing deadline of Jan. 4 were asked to participate in the forum, but only five accepted the invitation.
Walker, who was first elected seven years ago, is running for the first time without a party endorsement. She came under fire from several of the challengers during the forum for the investigation currently being conducted by the Ohio Ethics Commission for voting to award a county contract to a business operated by her son last July.
Cyndy Wright, League of Women Voters president, said that the organization felt that the candidate forum was an important, critical piece in the local political process when it became apparent last Fall that the two seats for commissioner would be challenged in 2008.
"It is the first time in my memory that the seats have been contested at the primary level by both parties," Wright said. "The League's job is to be a conduit for information to the voters and the candidate forum provided the perfect opportunity to accomplish that. It is my hope that those attending the forum realize how fortunate we are to have so many good people running for office who care very deeply about the county. We are lucky to have such a choice in deciding who our next leaders will be."
The forum, which was attended by a very diverse group of people representing all ages, genders, and political affiliations, included opening remarks from the five candidates, a question and answer period, and closing remarks.
"The audience produced questions that were insightful and probing," Wright said. "I knew they would be."
The questions that the candidates were asked included the compelling reasons they decided to run, whether or not they would be full or part-time commissioners, how they would address and fix the dubious distinction of the prevalent production and distribution of methamphetamine in the county, how they would handle unethical conflicts, their thoughts on tax incentives and abatements (attracting and then keeping businesses in the county), their plans to replace lost jobs and any economic recovery and development plans, and whether or not they would make changes to the office of commissioner.
The U.C. Clermont media students produced the forum and anyone wishing to watch the forum and hear the candidate's responses to the above questions can do so on Clermont County Government Television, and Union Township and Anderson Township television.
"I am extremely proud of all the Clermont County League members and the college volunteers who made the evening such a great success," Wright said.