State Rep. and Fairborn councilman vie for Greene County Commission seat

A former Greene County Commissioner and the Fairborn Deputy Mayor are running for an open Greene County Commission seat.

Republican Rick Perales, who currently serves as the state representative for Ohio District 73, and Democrat Colin Morrow, currently on Fairborn city council, are running to fill Commissioner Bob Glaser’s seat. Commissioner Tom Koogler’s seat is also up for reelection, but he is running unopposed. Greene County commissioners will make $81,157 a year beginning 2021, according to Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.

Below are questions candidates answered for the Dayton Daily News:

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

Perales: My education and experience, as well of the contacts I’ve established through my years as a military officer and elected official, has served me well and provided a solid foundation for problem solving. Serving in local, county, and state government gives me a unique perspective for understanding all levels of state government and how best to interact with each for the benefit of my constituents. My years as a military commander, Executive Director of Facilities for the University of Dayton, Mayor of Beavercreek, Commissioner, and State Representative have allowed me to hone my leadership skills to get the most out of an organization. I respect and appreciation all people, their heritage, and skills. But mostly I stress communication - two ways with both employees and customers. I am available 24/7.

Morrow: I have lived and worked in Greene County since 2001. I was elected to the Fairborn City Council and was later made the Deputy Mayor of Fairborn. As a member of the city council, I have worked with the other council members to review/recommend changes/vote on the budget. I have worked in Federal Civil Service and as a Defense Contractor at both the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at WPAFB, so I understand the importance of WPAFB to the region. In my 33 years of experience as a US Army Reservist (USAR), currently a Colonel serving as A Division Chief of Staff, I have the experience of leading change in a large organization. Working in the private sector of defense contracting, I have been held accountable for profit and loss. This experience gives me the context for the operating environment of large and smaller business, and I understand the impact of government decisions on the business community.

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

Perales: The County Commission is an administrative arm of the state, and can only do what is explicitly allowed in Ohio Statute. Consequently, County Commissioners need to ensure the county is best situated and aware of state policies and opportunities in order to enhance their constituents' opportunities and lives. My recent past as a state legislature will serve as an asset in this capacity. Economic development and providing jobs for our constituents is a key role. Strategic planning for water/sewer extension and development is key towards this end. Also, ensuring we maintain a close relationship with WPAFB is huge. WPAFB is the economic engine for the region. I have worked tirelessly to ensure that WPAFB and Ohio is the most military, military family, and veteran friendly state in the country. Lastly, a commissioner should work for the entire county. The fact that I had seven Greene County mayors support my primary run indicates that leadership throughout Greene County believes I’ll be there for them.

Morrow: As a county commissioner, there is a responsibility to review the budget and pass a budget that provides the needed services to ALL of the citizens of Greene County based on a realistic forecast of tax revenues. In addition, the county commissioners should help shape the future of Greene County in regards to economic development and set positive economic conditions to attract new businesses to Greene County.

Q: Given the loss of revenue many entities face because of the coronavirus pandemic, what budget challenges do you see happening in Greene County?

Perales: At the General Assembly, we will be approving more CARE funding to be distributed to county and local governments this week. This should help ease the COVID-19 fiscal crisis for counties and local jurisdictions. I will vote ‘yes’ on SB 357 that will release this money as an emergency. Greene County Commissioners took responsibly fiscal steps early-on by freezing all hiring and terminating new construction projects, while continuing to provide services in the safest manner possible. As no one can project the nature and extent of the effects of COVID-19, we will need to continue this conservative, proactive planning to ensure the fiscal security of the county.

Morrow: The reduction of tax revenues will require the Commissioners to re-assess budget priorities and make the hard decisions on what budget items gets funded, reduced funding, or not being funded. Budget cuts should not be made on the backs of employees.

Q: If elected, what do you see your role as a county commissioner as it relates to Wright-Patt, gaining missions, BRAC, etc.?

Perales: I’ve been a leader and major advocate for WPAFB throughout my career and expect to continue to do so as Greene County Commissioner. I know WPAFB as well as anyone based on my experience as the 788th Civil Engineer Commander. In this role, I led hundreds of GIs and civilians in the operations and maintenance of WPAFB. I served as the community leader during BRAC 2005, leading a community contingent during a recruiting trip to San Antonio to ensure critical skills came to our region with the new missions. This effort led to an outstanding retention rate, and contributed to a successful BRAC implementation. Additionally, I’ve led key legislative efforts at the Statehouse to better our military members, their families and veterans lives, while enhancing Wright Patt’s opportunity for mission gains. Finally, I initiated General Assembly support advocating for locating the Space Command HQs at WPAFB HQ. This would be a major win for the region, with a decision due early 2021. Even if we don’t get the Headquarters, a good showing could result in additional space jobs, as well as further mission opportunities.

Morrow: County Commissioners should embrace WPAFB, as it is the largest single site employer in Ohio. Having previously worked at NASIC, I understand the friction of losing/gaining missions for one organization. County Commissioners need to ensure our federally elected officials protect the missions and the requisite funding for those missions at WPAFB. In addition, the commissioners should develop programs that encourage people and companies to move to Greene County. Having the work force local to Greene County is part of the formula to keep those missions local to WPAFB. The Greene County Commissioners can work with local universities to help develop the Work Force to support innovative cutting-edge science and technology programs at WPAFB.

Q: Given the recent reduction of services at Greene Memorial Hospital, would you be supportive of renewing the levies on the hospital? Why or why not?

Perales: I would only be supportive of renewing the levies for Greene Memorial Hospital if the services provided by GMH were commensurate with the requirements specified in the levies. The next opportunity for the Commissioners to approve a GMH levy is summer 2021. I would be in favor of negotiating a deal that ensures Greene County residents are not deprived of necessary health care resources and the approximately 200 hospital jobs that remain, but only as long as GMH holds up their end of commitment.

Morrow: I would support renewing the levy for the hospitals as long as language was added to the levee to allow the County to dictate what services would be provided by Greene Memorial Hospital. The City of Xenia and the surrounding area deserves a hospital that has full compliment of medical services, not just “some” services.

Q: Issue 12 did not pass in the March election. If elected to county commission, how do you think you would handle repairs/expansions at the county jail? Do you think a new facility needs to be built? Why or why not?

Perales: The jail is in disrepair and ultimately, a new one will have to be constructed. The major issue has been the size of the proposed jail. We need to evaluate the current bed requirement, without being short-sighted for the future facility needs. I will work with Sheriff Fischer to make sure the sheriff’s department requirements are met while also balancing the views of my constituents.

Morrow: I support building a new jail with less bed space than what was originally proposed and along with an expansion of rehabilitation services. The current jail is in poor condition and introduces risk to those employed at the jail and as well as to the inmates. Our current jail facilities are not meeting the needs of our community. Rather than focus on a jail as a response without follow up action, we need to emphasis less bed space, more rehabilitation services to reduce recidivism, and re-evaluate the social justice reforms as they relate to minorities. In addition, we must re-evaluate social justice reforms for implicit bias, especially in terms of incarcerations of minorities and bail reform. As a Greene County Commissioner, I will work with state legislatures to look at alternative bail initiatives to support bail reform.

Candidate Bio Box:

Rick Perales

Age: 61

Hometown: Beavercreek

Occupation: legislator

Education: BS in Building Construction, 1982 Auburn University; MS in International Relations, 1992 Troy State University

Political experience: Former Greene County Commissioner, Former Mayor of Beavercreek, State Rep. for Ohio District 73

Colin Morrow

Age: 52

Hometown: Fairborn

Occupation: Director of Trusted Micro-Electronics at Centauri Corporation

Education: BA in Political Science, Rutgers University; MA in International Relations and Public Policy, Wright State University; MS in Strategic Studies, US Army War College

Political experience: Deputy Mayor of Fairborn, Fairborn City Council, Executive member of the Greene County Regional Planning and Coordination Committee

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