Montgomery County: Republicans vie in primary for Dem-held seat

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6:  Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race.  (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6: Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race. (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

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.

Norman Scearce from Trotwood and Arlene Setzer of Vandalia will face each other in the March 17 Republican primary for a Montgomery County commission seat currently held by Judy Dodge, a Democrat who is running for re-election. The four-year commission term begins Jan. 2, 2021. The two Republican primary candidates provided the following answers in response to a Dayton Daily News questionnaire.

Norman J. Scearce

Residence: Trotwood

Education: Liberty University, associate of arts in psychology


Arlene Setzer


Education: University of Dayton, bachelor of science in business administration; Wright State University, master of science in education

Website: under development

Q: What makes you qualified for this job? What experience do you have to make good and informed decisions about leading the county?

Scearce: My experience includes my role as a Trotwood-Madison Schools board member, business owner, community leader on many boards and commissions; my community involvement and my role as the pastor of the Gateway Cathedral.

Setzer: My commitment to serve our community spans over 34 years. I have been honored to serve as the mayor of Vandalia for the past eight years, the Ohio House of Representatives for eight years, serving as chair of the Education Committee, Vandalia City Council for 18 years and I have wonderful memories of being a Vandalia High School teacher for 33 years.

In Montgomery County, I have also served as: vice chair, First Suburbs Council of Governments, appointed to the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission for eight years, Legislative Committee, of the Greater Dayton Mayors and Managers Association, Visions Committee of the Vandalia Butler Foundation. As a state representative, secured funding for Aullwood Audubon Society to achieve ADA accessibility and building expansion. Board member, Dayton Workforce Partnership, fundraising co-chair Vandalia Food Pantry, first female president of Vandalia Rotary, served on the Rotary District Board.

Q: What are the most important responsibilities and roles of county commissioners?

Scearce: The most important responsibility of a county commissioner is setting the vision and direction for the county, as well effectively managing and allocating county dollars.

Setzer: My role as a County Commissioner is to ensure government works for everyone in all 28 of our communities. My many years as a public servant taught me to be a problem solver. I will ask hard questions and demand answers. When necessary, I will roll up my sleeves and go out in the field to see for myself because so many times the people who do the work are the ones who know the best solution.

Q: What are the biggest problems facing Montgomery County? What do you propose doing to tackle these challenges?

Scearce: The biggest issue currently facing Montgomery County is the lack of equity in the less affluent municipalities, which cause a lack of grocery stores, medical centers, and other community essentials.

Setzer: So many people are struggling with drug issues and mental health. Suicide rates are up and anxiety and depression disorders have increased significantly with our children. Our jails have swelled with people with mental health issues. After leaving jail, access to mental health treatment is often limited. Our mental health issue has been talked about; but, the talk has not led to solutions or action plans. It is time to create a panel of mental health professionals to provide a workable step-by-step solution. Oversight responsibility should remain with the County Commissioners.

Q: Why should voters care about this race? What’s at stake?

Scearce: Voters should care about this race because the future success of the county is at stake.

Setzer: The budget allocation of tax dollars should concern voters. Taxes were raised without citizen approval last year.

Q: The county commission right now is all Democrats. Would a Republican have a different vision for county governance?

Scearce: A republican commissioner would definitely offer a different vision for the county: one that offers much a more responsible and conservative governance.

Setzer: Yes.

Q: What makes you different from your opponent? What do you think of your competition?

Scearce: I don't think my opponents have the ability to lead with strength, to address the things that gone ignored for several years that have led to its spiral downward.

Setzer: I always hold my opponents in the highest regard, public service is an honor granted by our fellow citizens. Certainly, there are different approaches to government but the voters have the right to support their candidate without candidates evaluating each other.

Q: What can you do as a county commissioner to help grow the local economy and add jobs? What ideas do you have for attracting new jobs and investment?

Scearce: The first step is to build relationship with the leadership of all the municipalities and cities within the county. Without effective relationship, needed collaboration is limited. One idea is inclusionary zoning, which would attract businesses like grocery stores and retail to locate in parts of Montgomery County currently underserved.

Setzer: Montgomery County is blessed with suburban, urban and rural communities offering unique opportunities for business growth. Working together with all agencies and jurisdictions will allow for more efficiency and cooperation to serve all the citizens of our county Strength in cooperation and collaboration will enable all jurisdictions to prosper.

Q: How do you feel about the county’s current budget and spending priorities?

Scearce: Over half of the current budget goes to social services. Certain services that don't currently provide the best possible care, which is a tell tale sign a larger problem of not knowing where to put current resources in order to get the best possible return on the taxpayer investment.

Setzer: Concerned.

Q: Twice last year, Montgomery County water customers were subjected to outages. The county is also testing water quality independent of the supplier, the city Dayton. Should the county make any changes with its relationship with Dayton regarding drinking water?

Scearce: The county's relationship with the city of Dayton is currently strained. The issue with the water is because of the county's irresponsibility and years of deferred maintenance. The commissioners did not and do not have the political will to handle this issue without fear of losing their seats.

Setzer: The county has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the water for their citizens, so yes, testing the water quality must continue, along with working with the Ohio EPA regarding the effects of these chemicals in our water and on our citizens. In regard to changing the county's relationship with the city of Dayton the report from the Ohio EPA should impact that decision.

Q: Montgomery County Children Services failed to meet state standards for child safety as recently as 2019 and has had difficulty retaining employees. What, if any, steps should the county commission take in response?

Scearce: County officials should realize that the case workers from Children Services don't currently have the necessary supports in place to handle the enormous caseloads they are expected to oversee. The emotional and psychological toll on case workers without the appropriate support causes heavy turnover.

Setzer: This is heartbreaking and must be addressed quickly and completely. Communication between the various agencies in our county must improve, staff are working long and late hours with job burnout and turnover. We can solve these problems. But the bottom line is we failed a little boy, and I'm never going to forget him. Never.

Q: An expansion is planned for the Montgomery County Jail, the subject of more than a dozen lawsuits against the county in recent years. What, if any, changes should be made to or at the jail during this expansion? Why?

Scearce: The expansion of the jail should include dealing with inmates whose offenses spur from mental health issues. The county must invest in providing real and authentic mental health services and stop criminalizing mental health offenses. The county has a responsibility to all of its citizens.

Setzer: Why does it take so long and so many consultants to solve this problem? Outside guidance and legal evaluation is necessary, of course. But just fix it. I am not an authority on the issue, but it looks to me like our dollars are being spent on continuous studies and reports resulting in excessive spending without results.


Voters who want to get their ballots in before primary Election Day on March 17 can vote absentee by mail or in person at their county board of elections offices.

The deadline to request absentee mail ballots is three days before the election, or March 14. Absentee ballots must be signed. Absentee ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by the day before the election to be counted, or they can be returned in-person at the county board of elections before polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. (Do not take the ballot to a polling place.)

Early voting hours are the same in all counties:

‒ 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through March 6

‒ 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 7

‒ 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13

‒ 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14

‒ 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15

‒ 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, March 16

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