Q&A: Meet your Greene County Commissioner primary candidates

Greene County commissioner candidates from left to right: Debborah Wallace, Ron Geyer, Rick Perales.
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Greene County commissioner candidates from left to right: Debborah Wallace, Ron Geyer, Rick Perales.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ohio primary election was moved from March 17. The deadline to vote in the Ohio primary election is April 28. Voters must request an absentee ballot from their county’s board of election if they have not already voted. All absentee ballots mailed in must have a postmark of April 27 to be counted, and all ballots must be received by the boards by May 8 to be counted. Voters can drop off the ballots to board offices in person by 7:30 p.m. April 28. In-person voting will be offered on April 28, but will only occur at boards of elections early voting center and only be available for people with disabilities who require in-person voting and people who do not have a home mailing address. Local election officials say voters need to make sure they include all the required information on absentee ballot request forms and pay close attention to unsolicited request forms they get in the mail. State law allows ballots to be scanned but they cannot be tabulated until 7:30 p.m. April 28.

Greene County voters will choose among three Republican candidates to face the Democratic challenger this November.

The seats held now by Commissioner Tom Koogler and Commissioner Bob Glaser are up for re-election. Glaser said he will retire after this term to spend more time with his grandchildren.

Koogler, a Republican from Bellbrook, will run uncontested for re-election, both in the primary and in the general election.

One Democrat, Colin Morrow from Fairborn, will face a November challenge against the Republican winner from the March 17 primary in a race that features State Rep. Rick Perales against Ron Geyer of Xenia and Beavercreek Twp. Trustee Debborah Wallace.

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Perales, serving his fourth and final term in the Ohio House of Representatives, representing District 73, confirmed in November he wants to return to local politics in Greene Coounty. Before his run in the Statehouse, Perales has previously served as a county commissioner and was mayor of Beavercreek.

Geyer has owned and operated Geyer’s Office Supply in Xenia for more than 45 years. On Friday, Geyer and his wife Renee celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary.

Wallace was the first woman in Greene County inducted in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Before serving as trustee, Wallace has served on city council, was the Beavercreek vice mayor, and sat on the Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

All three answered questions from the Dayton Daily News.

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Q: Why are you running for Greene County commissioner?

Ron Geyer: "I am running for Greene County commissioner because I feel my 45 years of experience owning and operating a small business would be beneficial in managing the budget, maintaining infrastructure and watching out for the taxpayers dollars."

Debborah Wallace: "Currently, I am serving in my third year as Beavercreek Township Trustee, so I do not have to run. I am running because I feel Greene County needs a diverse perspective, another voice and a fresh set of eyes to think and act 'outside of the box' on issues and policies. I will treat all Greene County communities fairly and be a good steward of taxpayer dollars."

Rick Perales: "Service — I've served my entire life. First in the military, then as an elected official. I truly enjoy serving and I'm good at it. I like to listen to my constituents and find solutions to their issues. As I am statutorily term-limited as a State Representative, I feel called to continue to serve my community — Greene County."

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Q: What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in the county?

Geyer: "I believe the new county jail facility, funded by the sales tax increase, is the most important capital improvement at this time. I do support the new jail facility but there are some points I would like to see in the total proposal. I'm not sure we need a 525-bed facility and I would like to make sure that mental health and addiction facilities are incorporated in the proposal."

Wallace: "At every city, township and village meeting I have been to, the residents have expressed the need for street repaving and repairs, curbs, sidewalks and lighting. I propose spending any foreseeable excess carryover in our budget on those issues. From my perspective, I feel there are several opportunities available to Greene County that we can explore, opportunities that will benefit not only the residents but businesses as well. In the township we are allowing a firm to build our fire station and lease them back — reducing the risk to our taxpayers and the overall cost. Why can't we do that in the construction of the new jail?"

Perales: "Clearly the new jail is the largest and most pressing need for the county. Concurrently with the jail, is the renovation of the current Adult Detention Center for drug and alcohol programs, and sentencing alternatives. The Commissioners and Sheriff have accomplished their due diligence on this project and will have a levy on the March 17 ballot for 0.25% sales tax for up to 12 years to fund this project. In this manner, the jail funding won't put more burden on property taxes, and will be funded, in part, by non-Greene County residents shopping in Greene County establishments. Other capital consideration includes water, sewer and the Airport. Extending water and sewer to the Greene County airport will greatly assist development at and around the airport."

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Q: What changes need to be made to existing Greene County taxes?

Geyer: "The county currently has a carryover of approximately $27 million on a budget of $50 million. I would like to see the carryover capped at $25 million and a long-term infrastructure and growth plan put together instead of a what-do-we-need-today. The carryover could then be returned to the taxpayers. Part of the long-term infrastructure would be to continue to set aside money for all political subdivisions in the county for emergencies or improvements."

Wallace: "The greatest amount of property taxes goes to the schools. We need to work with our state elected officials to reduce the huge mandates that they impose on the local school districts in Greene County. We can save money and tax dollars by creating more opportunities for shared services through Greene County and the villages, townships and cities. We did that while I was on Beavercreek City Council and I am pleased as a Beavercreek Township Trustee that we are doing it for the township as well. It works, everyone wins, especially the taxpayer."

Perales: "The main source of County funding, by statute, is sales tax. Only a small portion of County revenue comes from property tax. Thanks to good fiscal management by current and past Commissioners, Greene County is in good fiscal position. We should, however, look at investing more in our residents, either by rolling back tax rates, investing in our communities with grants, and/or investing in non-profits that enhance the county.

“Although Commissioners have no control over school funding which composes nearly three-quarters of our property taxes, we need to continue working with and influencing state officials to come up with solutions that relieve some of the property tax pressure for our residents – especially seniors. There is a great deal of work going on in Columbus relative to this situation. We need to keep the pressure on to come up with adequate and timely solutions.”

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Q: If you had been a Greene County commissioner when the Memorial Day tornadoes hit, would you have responded to community needs any differently?

Geyer: "I believe Greene County served the residents well following the tornadoes."

Wallace: "I believe the entire Greene County community worked extremely well together during the Memorial Day tornadoes and aftermath. At a time when our neighbors were hurting, needing a helping hand or support of any kind, everyone came together. Our churches, nonprofits, Chambers and communities were united. I propose we do that more now without a disaster. As an active participant in the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission for several years, I know that many Greene County communities, members of MVRPC, have created a Disaster Preparedness Position to implement and be even more prepared for such emergencies in the future. This will tie all of our communities together with one voice should we ever experience such a devastating event again."

Perales: "First, I'd like to thank all those officials and volunteers who responded during the Memorial Day tornadoes. Given the magnitude and devastation of the tornadoes, I believe the Greene County Commissioners did just as they should have. Declaring an 'emergency' the next morning opened the doors for immediate responses and resources. Supporting state and local officials, as well as County EMA, allowed these organizations to execute as trained, and support affected residents. We will continue to support these folks until all is back to normal.

“As good as our response was for the Memorial Day tornadoes, our energy now needs to be focused on learning from this event, and getting even better at handling these types of situations.”

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Q: What Greene County services should be improved for residents?

Geyer: "All Greene County services should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they are up to date, funded properly and give the best customer service. I will be happy to meet any county residents and listen to any problems they may have."

Wallace: "Services to be improved are most importantly water and sewer, softer water. This activity is already being addressed. Creating a county metro park system would be another way to stretch taxpayer dollars but create a well-run system. Most communities in Greene County are having a difficult time taking care of hardcore infrastructure and maintain their parks. Cutting out duplicate services and putting parks under a central system saves money. As an example, look at Cleveland Metro Parks and Montgomery County. They can do so much more when parks are maintained by one entity."

Perales: "In general, I believe Greene County provides good services. However, one of the first things I will do when I enter office is to assess our services and determine where improvements can be made. We should always be reviewing our services to ensure we are constantly improving, striving to be the most effective and efficient possible."

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