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On the Role of a County Commissioner

The Fairfield County Courthouse, located at 210 E. Main Street in Lancaster, Ohio

When people hear that I am running for County Commissioner, they usually ask, “What does a County Commissioner do?” 

A County Commissioner is a bit like the captain of an all-star team:  There are 12 other elected officials who have all been elected in a county-wide vote who serve alongside the three County Commissioners - Sheriff, Prosecutor, Auditor, Treasurer, Engineer, Clerk, Coroner, Recorder and the three courts.  The County Commissioners set the budget for each of those elected officials and their departments.  As such, there is a call for a strong relationship and a deep understanding of the challenges facing each of those elected officials.  There is also an opportunity to work on a common vision for the County and working collaboratively toward that vision with all of those elected officials.

A County Commissioner is also like a CEO.  There are eight departments within the county government that work directly for the Commissioners - Economic Development, Job & Family Services, etc. Those departments take direction from the County Administrator who reports directly to the three Commissioners.  In addition there are 8 Ex-Officio Boards who are independent of but funded by the Commissioners. 


So it isn't a simple answer.

To me, while the organizational chart may be complicated, the approach to the job should be fairly simple:

First – seek to understand.  The first several months would be all about learning.  Each of the elected officials, each of the department heads, each of the Board leaders – all have things on their mind.  They all have issues or concerns, they all have things they would like the Commission to do or not do, they all want to be heard.  Spending time hearing them, asking questions, understanding their issues would be the first priority.

Next - A look at 2050.  The next step would be to put a group together to figure out what we collectively want Fairfield County to look like in 2050.  This sounds easy when you put it on paper but there’s actually a good bit of work that goes into it over a period of time with multiple groups of people.  It’s important to understand the opportunities that surround us, the strengths and weaknesses of our community as it stands today, and the threats to our long-term growth and well being.  So creating that collective VISION would be step 2.

From there you work on long-term, short-term, and immediate plans. 

And then, the role of the County Commissioner is not to micro-manage.  Rather, it is to provide the financial and other resources - tools, training, etc., for those who are to execute the plan.  It is to hold accountable those who work directly for the Commissioners and to maintain an open line of communication with the other elected officials.  It is to use the budget to help establish priorities for the entirety of the County Government. 

Finally, and most importantly, it is to have an open line of communication with those we serve.  The residents, the business owners, everyone should feel like they have an advocate in the County Commissioner’s office. 

As your County Commissioner I will listen first, create a long-term vision, help make the plan to reach that vision, and provide the resources needed to achieve it.  I will have an open ear to others serving the public in Fairfield County, and I will have an ongoing open dialogue with those we serve.  That is how I will serve as your Fairfield County Commissioner.

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