Candidates comment on region’s drug epidemic

(Posted Sept. 29, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

The drug epidemic was a key issue at a Meet the Candidates Night, held Sept. 26 at the Madison County Senior Center in London.

Hosted by Ready FM WCYC-LP 105.1, London’s radio station, the event gave candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot the opportunity to introduce themselves and comment on a variety of topics.

Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin, who is unopposed in his bid for re-election, commented on the drug problem and crime in general.

“We formed a (drug) task force several years ago, but we don’t forget the basics,” such as burglaries and robberies, he said. He encouraged his audience that if they see or hear something, “Don’t hesitate to call.”

County Prosecutor Steve Pronai, also unopposed in his bid for re-election, said drugs are the major problem.

“Ninety percent of our cases are drug and alcohol related,” he said, pledging to continue his close work with the Sheriff’s Office. He also said he is working with the county commissioners and township trustees to move the county forward.

The number of felony cases going to court is on the rise, said Common Pleas Court Judge Eamon Costello, who is unopposed in his bid for re-election. As many as 200 cases a year have gone through his courtroom, he said, and a lot of them have been opiate or heroin related.

The drug problem can be seen at all levels, according to Barb Niemeyer, a candidate for state representative for the 74th District. She is running against Bill Dean.

“Heroin affects all of us,” she said, launching into a description of an episode she saw one day as she was knocking on doors, meeting the voters.

“It was 5:30 in the afternoon and I saw a woman fall to the sidewalk,” she said. She told of how the emergency squad arrived and cared for the woman. Only later, she said, she learned the woman had overdosed.

Candidates for the two county commissioner seats up for election also commented on the drug problem. David Hunter spoke of treatment and rehabilitation to get people off of drugs. He said he would work with law enforcement to help them with anything they need. Hunter’s opponent, Andra Troyer, said education on the matter is needed and suggested it start “as low as the sixth grade.”

In the other commissioner race, Ron Roach said he would help law enforcement, while his opponent, incumbent Mark Forrest, talked about “keeping the young generation strong.”

Drugs aren’t the only concern on voters’ minds, as Niemeyer said she has learned.

“Property taxes are their big concern,” she said, adding that she is also focused on safety services, libraries, and better paying jobs.

The topic of jobs was a running theme in Matt Kirk’s remarks. Kirk is running against Bob Hackett for the senate seat in the 10th District.

“The direction we need to move is to create jobs,” he said, adding, “We need to prepare our students to enter the work force.”

Kirk also said Ohio needs an economy that can pay good wages to generate revenue. “That would help communities,” he said.

County Recorder Charles Reed is unopposed in his bid for re-election. He explained the effort his office is making to get all county records computerized.

“The county dates back to 1810,” he said. “We’re working to get all the records dating back that far on the computer.”

For County Engineer Bryan Dhume, this is his first election since being appointed to his post this past January. He is running against Steven Lamphear.

Dhume stressed the importance of cooperation with others, including county engineers from around Ohio.

Candidates unable to attend the Meet the Candidates Night include Bill Dean, Robert Hackett, Steven Lamphear and the following incumbents who are running unopposed: Renae Zabloudil, county common pleas court clerk; James Kaehr, county coroner; and Donna Landis, county treasurer.

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