Letter: Holman ‘Missing Years of Debate, Hasn’t Live in Portage County Long Enough’
To the Editor:
Chris Holman states on his webpage that if elected, he would “evaluate” the position of County Executive, and elsewhere states that “Technically, what makes one qualified for this position (County Executive) is whether or not he or she can win an election.
There are pros and cons to that, and there are also other avenues the county could pursue for this position if it wanted to base the position solely on “merit”. It’s not hard to read between the lines: Holman is skeptical of the need for an elected county-wide leader. This is understandable since he has not lived in Portage County for much more than eight years.
What Holman is missing are the years of debate and decades of board-driven decision making that led the voters of Portage County to create the Executive position over 12 years ago. The consequences of those days are still with us. One example is the County HH bridge designed and built to handle 18,000 vehicles per day, but presently handling only 3,300 per day (down from a high of 4,000 in 2008). Another is the Crossroads Commons area, where the previous county planning director and previous county board chair negotiated commercial land deals with questionable terms that were only reluctantly shared with the public. Finally, the county jail building, fraught with design flaws and out of date the day it opened. The public is still paying the price for these decisions, and no one has ever taken responsibility.
The blame historically bounced back and forth between county board members (each accountable only to their district voters) and county staff, who are always in a precarious position to respond to county board criticism. The people of Portage County finally said “enough!” and voted in spring 2005 to create the County Executive as an important check on decisions and actions of the county board.
Given this history, one might wonder where Mr. Holman finds the gall to suggest he knows better than the voters and that we should “revisit” the matter. I personally believe he is being (mis)led by the person who owns the house he lives in and land he farms, Cindy Davis, and her close friend Jeanne Dodge, who is on the county board representing Stockton and Sharon, helped appoint Cindy to the Stockton Plan Commission, and has financially supported Chris’ campaign.
Jeanne Dodge has consistently been opposed to the County Executive position, from 2003 until today, and she has in Chris Holman the perfect candidate to begin centralizing power and decision-making back in the county board.
Don’t let that happen.