The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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  The economic health of Ottawa County and the health of Lake Erie are intertwined and high on the lists of priorities for candidates vying for seats on the board of commissioners.  

Mark Coppeler, the owner of a Port Clinton business, is challenging incumbent Jo Ellen Regal for a term that begins Jan. 3, 2017.  Coppeler, a Republican, said he made his decision to run for the office after listening to the concerns of small business owners, employees and homeowners and hearing a growing chorus of worry.

 “In my business over the last 26 years, I’ve worked with people from all walks of life,” he said. “They’re worried for their future, their jobs and their paychecks. For too many years we’ve watched the slow steady decline in employment opportunities.”

 As the owner of Coppeler Heating and Electric, he has “…weathered the ups and downs of operating a business through one of the worst economic recessions of recent times.”

 Regal, a Democrat, who is seeking re-election after winning a seat on the board in 2013, also sees economic development as vital for the county.

 “It will be important to work with the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation to ensure the county is business friendly and that we have a work force to meet the needs of all businesses – small, medium, or large – new or existing,” she said.

 She’s also served as the county’s auditor and says the next board of commissioners will have to contend with the state-wide loss of a sales tax on Medicaid managed care organization starting in July 2017.

 “This will have an impact on the State of Ohio as well as the counties,” she said. “It will be important to have communications with our state legislators as we work through this change. The heroin epidemic will also have an impact on our budget as our jail population grows and more children are being removed from their homes due to drug issues within the family.”

 Visitors to Ottawa and Erie counties generated about $2 billion in local tourism-related sales in 2015, according to a recent economic impact study released by Lake Erie Shores & Islands, the tourism bureau.

 Coppeler and Regal both said it is critical for the region as well as the county for the algal problem in the lake to be addressed.

 Coppeler is a former member of Port Clinton City Council. As a member of council’s infrastructure committee he worked with Portage Township officials to resolve flooding problems near Magruder Hospital.

 Regal served as the Bay Township fiscal officer from 1992-2000 and now serves on the boards of Lake Erie Shores & Islands, WSOS and the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

 

Stahl, Redfern contending for seat  

Voters in the county will see two familiar names in the race for the other open commissioner’s seat with incumbent Republican Mark Stahl being challenged by Democrat Chris Redfern, a former commissioner and state representative.

 A former Allen Township trustee, Stahl was first elected to the board of commissioners in 2008 but lost his bid for re-election to Regal in 2012. He was appointed to the board last year when Steve Arndt vacated his commissioner’s seat to accept an appointment to the 89th District House of Representative seat.

 During a candidates forum last month, Stahl noted the county commissioners’ have kept a rein on spending, helping the county earn an AA2 bond rating, the highest possible rating for a county with the population of Ottawa County.

 He pledged to work for stronger collaboration between the county and townships and municipalities and said as a firefighter he sees first-hand the opiate addiction problem.

 “I see it, I hear it. It’s out there,” he said.

 Redfern stressed the importance of maintaining the health of Lake Erie.

The owner, with his wife, of the Red Fern Inn at Rocky Point Winery in Marblehead, Redfern said nine of 10 customers of the inn visit to “take in Lake Erie and what the area has to offer.”  The inn’s 12 employees and much of the region’s economy depend on the lake, he said.

 “We never take it for granted,” Redfern said.

   As a state legislator he co-sponsored legislation to ban oil and natural gas drilling from under Lake Erie and as a commissioner he helped develop the county’s regional water system.

 The term begins Jan. 2, 2017.

 Only two other county-wide races are contested.  Democrat Mark Mulligan, the incumbent prosecuting attorney, is being challenged by James VanEerten, a Republican, and Virginia Park, a Democrat and the incumbent county recorder, is being challenged by Nathan Daniels, a Republican.  Other incumbents aren’t facing challengers: Sheriff Stephen Levorchick, Robert Hill, treasurer; Ronald Lajti, engineer; Daniel Cadigan, coroner, and Gary Kohli, clerk of the common pleas court.

   

 

 

 

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