Republican Miami County commissioner faces opposition

Greg Simmons, right, and Joe Gibson
Caption
Greg Simmons, right, and Joe Gibson

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.

Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons, in his first term as an elected official, faces a challenge for the seat by Tipp City Mayor Joe Gibson in the March 17 election.

Both men are Republicans. No Democrat filed for this commission seat, which begins Jan. 2, 2021.

Simmons’ signs for re-election are paired in many places across the county with incumbent Sheriff Dave Duchak, while Gibson’s campaign signs are seen frequently along with those for sheriff’s challenger Paul Reece. All are Republicans.

Gibson said he thinks Simmons “gives a great deference to the sheriff” when it comes to spending requests and “was willing to jump into” a possible jail construction project with a preliminary cost estimate of more than $24 million.

Simmons said those statements are “untrue.”

“He (Duchak) doesn’t get everything he asks for,” Simmons said adding any vote requires the vote of at least two of three commissioners to be approved. Most commission votes are unanimous.

“We do have a close relationship,” Simmons said of Duchak. “That is one of the things that was lacking when I took office - a relationship between the county commissioners and the sheriff’s office,” he said. Simmons was made the commission liaison with the sheriff’s office.

Simmons supports efforts to build a new jail for felons and close the jail in downtown Troy and has signaled county interest in possible state funding. However, he said, he would not support such a large dollar project without a vote by county residents.

Gibson said he realizes people will say he is friends with Reece. “Paul knows if he (and Gibson) is elected and says he wants something, he is going to be told ‘no,’ just like Dave Duchak would be told, ‘no,” Gibson said. He said a lot of options need to be explored before building a new jail is considered.

Joe Gibson, 55, lives in Tipp City and is a graduate of the University of Dayton, with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a juris doctor degree. He is an attorney. He and his wife, Sonia, have two daughters. More information on his campaign is available at Facebook: Joe Gibson for Miami County Commission.

Questions:

What are the top challenges facing the county?

- “Infrastructure: First and foremost, I am a small government, fiscally conservative fellow, and throughout all of this, the county’s role should be primarily in infrastructure. We need to focus on roads, bridges and water/sewer efforts so we can have the right family-friendly development for residential development, and to serve our businesses. We can’t live, work, do businesses if our roads, sidewalks and bridges are not in proper condition.”

- “The budget: I believe my experience with balancing budgets in Tipp City will help the county stay in the black. I know how to work with budgets (both in my business, and in the city of Tipp City) and can zero-in on wasteful spending and make the hard choices that need to be made. I think we can do better in this area given the projects that are being proposed, and the amount of money involved. Now is not the time to raise taxes and I am hearing this as an option not far from now.”

- “Intergovernmental relations: I will strive for the best possible working relationship with all other county officials and departments and treat them with respect and dignity they deserve. I will listen. We need independent critical thinkers in all departments, but we’ve got to work together. This applies not only within Miami County, but also with other counties and the agencies that work with us.

What would make you a good commissioner?

“My temperament and ability to look at issues with detachment and without bias. I have analytical skills that allow me to be an independent, critical thinker. My ability to get along and work with people will also make me a good commissioner,” Gibson said. “I am old enough and have been through enough in life that I have no ego to bruise, and no hidden agenda in mind,” he said. “I just want to serve the people and do what’s right for Miami County. We can disagree and not be enemies.”

What else would you like voters to know about you? I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, teaching the legal aspects of firearms at local CCW classes and at continuing education seminars across the country. I plan on proposing a resolution making Miami County a Second-Amendment Sanctuary County.”

Greg Simmons, 70, lives near Tipp City. He is a Navy veteran and holds bachelor’s and master of education degrees in Christian education. He is in his first term as county commissioner. Simmons is married to wife, Patty. He has six children, 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. More information on his campaign is available at Facebook: SIMMONS4COMMISSIONER.COM.

Greg Simmons

What are the top challenges facing the county?

- “Balance the budget so we can be available for grants. For example, with the (Courthouse) Plaza project we were going to acquire $1 million from the state but did not due to having too much carryover,” Simmons said. “The carryover is about $21 million. The budget has been balanced; it is not out of control. To maintain a building like the old Courthouse, the cost is constant. We are doing what we have to do to maintain our buildings. I don’t think that we are overspending on anything. We are using cash for projects such as the plaza, to bring the carryover down some.”

- “Employee health care. The county is self- insured and put $2 million extra in the program last year. Different policies need to be checked out. One thing we are looking at is possibly buying an insurance policy as some other counties are doing. We talked with the health department about setting up for our county employees a clinic at the Hobart Center. This is something I think is going to happen,” Simmons said.

- “We are looking into the betterment of the Incarceration Facility and closing the current jail. We are currently looking at possibilities and the price to have a felony (prisoner) addition to the Incarceration Facility. The state is putting up $100 million dollars a year for the next 10 years to update and build new jails. We are checking this possibility. I wanted to make sure we got on the radar for funding (with calls to people in Columbus). There is no way we would ever try to do something that expensive (current estimate more than $20 million) without taking it to the public, taking to a vote,” Simmons said.

What makes you a good county commissioner?

“I believe I am a good county commissioner presently and hold myself accountable to the citizens of Miami County along with my relationship and willingness to be a team player with other elected officials,” Simmons said.

What else would you like voters to know about you?

“I believe good leaders should have conviction and purpose for the good of those entrusted to them. I am personally involved within church and community. I genuinely care for our community.”