Election 2020: 2 vie for Miami County commissioner seat

Voting stickers are seen at the Ohio Union during the U.S. presidential election at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio November 6, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

TROY – Miami County residents will elect a new county commissioner Nov. 3 to fill the seat being vacated with the retirement of long-time County Commissioner John “Jack” Evans of Monroe Twp.

Evans announced late last year his decision to not seek re-election after 16 years.

The candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot seeking to replace him are Democrat Jack Bastian of Piqua and Republican Wade Westfall of Troy.

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Westfall, a former commissioner from 1989-1993, defeated two other Republicans in the GOP primary. Bastian did not face an opponent in the primary.

All three Miami County commission seats are on the ballot this fall, but two don’t face opponents. Republican Greg Simmons is unopposed.

The third commission seat is held by Ted Mercer, a Republican from Troy who was appointed in early 2019 when Bill Beagle of Tipp City, elected in fall 2018, took a state government job instead of filling the commission seat. Mercer was required by law to run for the remainder of the term this year. He faced no opposition in the primary and has none in the general election.

The following is a Q&A with Bastian and Westfall.

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Q: Why are you seeking this office of county commissioner?

Jack Bastian: A county commissioner is at the grass roots level for public service to a community. I believe that as a commissioner I can help maintain the good things that are building our area, while identifying issues that can bring growth and employment to Miami County. I seek this office as a servant to the entire county who will listen and respond to wants and needs for the betterment of all.

Wade Westfall: To be part of a team that guides this county into a prosperous healthy future benefiting all its citizens.

Q: What are the top issues facing Miami County?

Wade Westfall: The biggest challenge facing any elected official is how to create a healthy economy where people have access to rewarding careers and everyone can benefit.

One aspect to that challenge is Workforce Development. Right now, in Miami County there are jobs that are going unfilled. Sitting down with those creating these careers and seeing what the issues are is the top job for any county commissioner. Some possible opportunities are evaluating our present public transportation system and lack of affordable daycare.

Another challenge facing the commissioners is the ability to maintain county facilities. The renovation or possible re-location of the downtown county jail is at the top of the list. My track record of restoring and maintaining properties throughout the county is a unique skill, valuable to the board of commissioners.

Another critical issue facing the county is how does our county invest in our workforce, retain those high-quality employees and provide the best services that our citizens require, while being fiscally responsible? Presently there are 15 career track positions available on the Miami County Government website. Miami County is no different than any other employer, we must constantly be looking at our employee retention efforts. I would encourage the board of commissioners to continue to look at all options to keep our county workforce healthy and productive.

Wade Westfall

Jack Bastian:

  • Employment for those who have lost jobs due to the pandemic. I would seek assistance and grants, help find loans and seed money for people to return to work.
  • Housing shortage. Miami County is growing and there is a severe shortage of affordable and new housing. I would assist in needs assessment that would identify the business needs for new employees; identify housing available; help create a program for upgrading housing and for bringing new builders to the area. I would work with the funding effort to make it attractive for building growth in both business and housing, and to identify and refurbish vacant sites that may be capable of becoming loft style apartments.
  • Determine the current needs of communities in Miami County via meetings and doing assessments. Establish common goals of the communities and create partnerships for sharing and addressing needs. One example may be a traffic survey on West Main in Troy and how to improve traffic flow patterns and rerouting during times of interstate shutdowns. I would also create some checks and balances with agencies doing business with the county to assure financial accounting standards are met, via oversight and review; this will prevent possible fraud such as recently happened at the Hobart Arena.
Jack Bastian

What do you think is the hardest part of being a commissioner?

Jack Bastian: Elected officials have many issues from constituents, with many demands. Those issues must be measured and prioritized, and there will be those that can be addressed and those that cannot. The hard part of this job is saying “no” to projects that you very much support.

Wade Westfall: As county commissioner, you are only one of three persons and working together as a team is critical. In addition, county commissioners have a great deal of responsibility, dealing with land-use issues, budgeting for services, human service delivery and transit, just to name a few. It is a position that requires an individual with a broad skill set that can constructively work with other county officials as well as township and municipal officials. It is certainly a challenging position, but it’s one that I have done before and am prepared to do again to serve our citizens.

Contact this reporter at nancykburr@aol.com.

Jack Bastian

Party: Democrat

Age: 67

Education: Indiana University; Edison State, Associate’s degrees in criminal justice and political science

Employment: Private investigator, owner/operation Upper Valley Investigative Services

Family: Wife Saundra L. Bastian

More campaign information: Facebook, Jack R. Bastian for County Commissioner

Wade Westfall

Party: Republican

Age: 59

Education: Piqua/Upper Valley JVS; Edison State Community College

Employment: Owner/operator, Westfall Investment Properties/Four Sons Development LLC

Family: Wife, Susan; four sons; four grandchildren

More campaign information: Facebook.com/westfallforcommissioner; website, www.westfallforcommissioner.com.

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