Republicans are challenging longtime Erie County Commissioner Tom Ferrell -- but first they have to decide who the GOP standard bearer will be.
In the March 4 primary, they must choose between two candidates: businessman Mike Printy, co-owner and founder of Source One, a human relations and customer service training firm in Perkins Township; and David Mulvin, a farmer, businessman and former director of public works for the city of Sandusky.
The two took questions from our readers at sanduskyregister.com during an online chat session Tuesday night at the Register offices.
An earlier chat session featured two Democratic candidates in the Erie County commission race: Linda Miller-Moore and Pat Shenigo. Those two are seeking the nomination to oppose Republican Joe Hayberger in the general election in a race for the county commission seat being given up by Commissioner Nancy McKeen.
The Miller-Moore and Shenigo chat has been archived at the paper's Web site.
The two Democrats running for county clerk of courts, Barbara Johnson and Bill Kimberlin, will participate in an online chat at 7 p.m.. Tuesday.
Here is the full transcript of the questions posed to the Republican commission candidates and their answers:
Stay_Focused: The county landfill is losing money. Is there any short- or long-term solutions?
Michael Printy: The landfill is within regulatory compliance but it is currently operating at a loss and consuming the financial reserve that has been established. The reserve will carry us through several years, and modest rate increase is scheduled for the future. Also, in the near future the landfill will generate carbon credits that can be sold for income to partially fund landfill operations. My goals would be: 1. To move more aggressively toward recycling that will reduce or eliminate the need for the landfill. 2. Continue to encourage a developer to use the methane from the landfill as a sustainable energy source. Also use the land for other renewable energy projects. 3. To better educate our communities about effective recycling.
David Mulvin: The short term solutions for the landfill are to continue to assess our current charges versus other salable assets such as methane. Long term solutions to all landfills are going to be the same throughout the state. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, we need to work together on long term solutions. Being agriculturally based, I firmly believe in the current recycling efforts, especially what Sharon Barnes is doing to keep more and more items out of our landfills.
sam: What are your qualifications for the position of county commissioner?
David Mulvin: I am a lifetime resident of Erie County. I have 21 years of management experience with 14 years of that in government administration. I have owned and operated a farm and retail vegetable market in Erie County for 34 years. I've written grant applications, built grant projects, completed government design-build projects, was a part of the administrative union negotiation team for three successful contracts. I have recruited, hired and trained many employees. I've had fiscal responsibility for five million dollar budgets, 45 full-time, and over 100 seasonal employees.
Michael Printy: Growing up and going to school in Sandusky and Perkins gave me a great foundation for the rest of my life. In 1965 I left the area and obtained my bachelors degree at John Carroll University. I then started a 23 year career with Union Carbide Corporation as a human resource professional. I became human resource manager for a division of 2500 employees. At my next employer I became Vice President of Human Resources for a privately owned business of 1100 employees. For the past 4 years I have managed my own human resource consulting company located in Perkins. During this time I have performed consulting projects with many local businesses and the Perkins School District. Bringing people together to focus on achieving great results has allowed me to be successful in my business life. I will continue to use this skill as a county commissioner.
sam: What is your strongest personal quality that will make you an outstanding county commissioner?
Michael Printy: The best skill I possess is being a consensus builder. I seem to have the skill at finding the common ground on issues that diverse opinions. When you find the common ground on these difficult issues, you usually discover the solution to the problem.
David Mulvin: My strongest quality has always been my leadership. Beginning with high school and college, I have held positions like Captain, I was quickly promoted in past employment because of my ability to get the job done and obtain input from my employees to reach common goals.
Stay_Focused: How have you been preparing for this campaign?
David Mulvin: I've been talking to residents and other elected officials, as well as keeping myself up-to-date on current issues. I have been keeping an open mind to these issues, and watching how current officials are trying to solve them. While I disagree with some of their decisions, I can see that if you do not communicate well with those affected, that results are often not the best for Erie county.
Michael Printy: For the past 4 weeks I have been meeting with as many local business and community leaders as I can. Some of the people who have helped me understand the critical county issues has been Sparky Weilnau, Sheriff Terry Lyons, Erie Regional Planning Alex Mac Nichol, Serving Our Seniors, Sue Daughtery, Sandusky City Manager Matt Kline and many others. All of these people have been extremely helpful in helping me create a great understanding of Erie County.
sam: What are your thoughts on the current goals established by the county commissioners? What would you add to that list?
David Mulvin: I've read them, and I like them. However, reaching most them will require cooperation and communication between the many political subdivisions of the county. To date, I have not seen a whole lot of positive cooperation. Leadership starts at the top. Erie County commissioners should be leaders in promoting and nourishing the cooperation that is needed to reach all of the goals. Too many walls exist in Erie County - they need to come down.
Michael Printy: All of the county's department heads submit suggested goals for the county commissioners. The current list of goals is impressive and rather complete. We need to have an economic development strategy that is so strong and comprehensive that all officials, business organizations, unions, workforce and citizens are participating and making economic development a reality. All of the above groups must participate in helping us identify businesses that can expand and establish facilities in Erie County.
sam: What experience do you have working with government entities and the general public and what were the outcomes of that experience?
Michael Printy: Representing private business I have communicated with government agencies such as the EPA, the EEOC and local municipalities. In each case the business had to resolve issues to everyone's acceptance. In each case you have no choice but to find an acceptable solution. I have also made community presentations regarding new facility start-up operations and reassured communities that the new facilities would not disturb their normal way of life. Once again, you have no choice in these situations but to find acceptable ways of working with each other.
David Mulvin: During my employment with the City of Sandusky, I worked with many government entities and fostered communication, and common goals were reached. Throughout my career, I have worked with the general public, and have enjoyed solving problems and building relationships. I liked leaving a sense of WOW with citizens after the job was completed.
sam: What is your position on regionalizing resources within the county, including the regional police/law enforcement dispatch? What are the pro's and the con's that you can see?
Michael Printy: Regionalizing operations within the county and sharing resources is becoming a necessary way of life. Law enforcement is an ideal area for sharing resources because the standards of operation between police departments is very similar if not the same. Cooperative operations between police departments will even give us the opportunity to discover the best practice from each department and this will help improve the quality of service for each department. The only problem I see is that there may be some resistance between some communities in working together. With hard work and discussion the differences can be worked out.
David Mulvin: I am a strong believer in regionalization, and would promote such if elected. Any type of joint effort that saves the taxpayers even one dollar is worth looking into. If government had to compete in the private sector, it would have been out of business 30 years ago. I do not condone annexation, but I do believe that too many services and equipment are duplicated. Strong leaders are needed with new vision to enable government to become more efficient and streamlined.
sam: What do you think is the most critical issue facing Erie County today, and how would you address that issue?
Michael Printy: The most critical issue is the development of the NASA testing program. Some local consultants and organizations are doing a great job to prepare support for the NASA development. The airport project seems to be stalled at a critical point right now. Erie County and surrounding counties will need to perform some skillful and insightful work in 2008 to keep this project on track. Most of the problems seem to be connected by poor communications with the other counties. I feel that communication and organizational skills can make a real contribution to this project.
David Mulvin: Economic development. We need to position Erie County as a desirable place to retain and bring business. If we are to compete with the rest of Ohio, we need to stand out. By bringing all government entities in the county together, and having this as a common goal, we can achieve an environment that fosters new business. We need to bring out a sense of community at the county level. A county commissioner should be at the axis of this goal.
sam: How do you think the infrastructure of Erie County is affecting its ability to attract business to our area? What changes would you suggest?
Michael Printy: GEM and the Erie Count Chamber of Commerce along with business people made an attempt to develop a one stop shop for economic development in the county and formed the Erie County Economic Development Corporation. As this was being finalized the county revitalized its Erie Community Investment Corporation. It seems that the county diminished the importance of ECEDC. I feel that further work must be done to develop an economic development strategy that is well understood and functioning in all parts of the county.
David Mulvin: I don't think that its had a negative effect. I do believe that the sewer construction on St. rt. 250 is necessary, as well as the study concerning all of the intersections on 250. I also think that when plans are approved for new development, they need to be more closely scrutinized, so as not to negatively impact existing development. I also believe that the commissioners' goal to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a storm water utility district is very necessary to solve drainage and flooding problems.
sam: There seems to be a lack of follow through with the current leadership at the county level ... important projects and problems seem to drag on and on. There are studies and then more studies. At what point do you stop studying and take action? How would you resolve this problem?
Michael Printy: The county commissioners must do a better job in selecting the highest priority projects and making sure that those projects follow a critical path to a successful completion. It seems there is an overuse of purchased studies when the very talented and well informed personnel that we have on the payroll have many of the solutions that are needed. In some cases we should press forward to a solution rather than worrying about making a mistake when we have the necessary information and talent to complete the project.
David Mulvin: I agree. Leaders need to make decisions and be accountable for them. I have always followed through and cut "red tape" wherever possible. Studies are valuable tools, but to continue studying only slows progress and costs taxpayers needless money. Many times a decision should be made involving as many local people as possible, like the current dispatch situation. It seems everyone knows the right solution except for a few local officials.
sam: Both candidates seem to have a strong business background. What have you learned about running a business that would help you to address the problems of the county?
David Mulvin: I have learned that talking to people and obtaining concensus generally helps to solve problems. When a problem exists in my business, I bring together all of the employees and ask for input. As I develop solutions, I keep them involved along the way. I believe that follow-up is the key, and oftentimes small changes may need to be made. The employees and I then step back and commend, or scratch our heads and go back to the drawing board.
Michael Printy: I have found out that organizations with people become more committed to achieving great results when there is passionate and involved leadership. There is a higher level of success when employees feel there encouraged to do their job and recognized when they are successful. Also, we must be more diligent in collection information from our employees and from the various political subdivisions that make up the county. Input from the various municipalities needs to occur more frequently.
sam: Certain areas of the county seem to be prone to flooding problems. Is there something that you think could be done to alleviate this problem
Michael Printy: In meeting with Jack Meyers, the county sanitation engineer I found out that a lot of attention is being given to this matter. The solution to solving these flooding problems will be solved over time and will be based on following a priority that has been established. The obvious problem in working through this problem more quickly is the availability of funding. Erie County will continue to work with stat agencies to provide the necessary funding.
David Mulvin: Yes, and the current commissioners have that as a goal for 2008. The problem is that this issue is not new, and this goal is probably not new either. I know from firsthand experience how long it takes to solve a flooding problem. The solution must include the involvement of county officials. I believe more could and should be done immediately. Expanding the tornado sirens doesn't seem nearly as important as flooding, which happens two and three times a year.
sam: When you talk about economic development in our county, what kinds of businesses do you think would "fit" best with Erie County and how would you go about attracting them to our area?
David Mulvin: I believe that our transportation infrastructure is second to none. We have water, rail, many state routes, and if all goes well, a larger airport. Any business that relies on transportation to move its products, or bring in raw materials would prosper here. How many people in Erie County know that we have an intermodal rail service that brings in three hundred and sends out as many truck trailers daily out on Old Railroad? How many businesses know this? I've always believed that an ethanol plant would do well here, and said as much ten years ago.
Michael Printy: I have heard people say that we would be more successful with economic development if only we could get successful business people to visit Erie County. Well, I know successful business people by the hundreds if not thousands every year when they bring their families to vacation in Erie County. Many of these successful business people are also part year residence when they live in their local condos and summer homes. As economic developers we do nothing to help our citizens effectively communicate with these people. Our community must tell these visiting business people that Erie County wants them to live, work and bring their businesses to Erie County. All our citizens must be able to communicate a positive and welcoming message to the people who visit our community.
Donna: What is your view regarding the proposed new airport at NASA with respect to the current economy (partially tax payer funded) and the cyclical business of aerospace (dependent on current administration's views).
David Mulvin: Aerospace may be cyclical, but there's always a new frontier, and man will always search for that frontier. I would rather have the cutting-edge technology here in Erie County, and the higher-paying jobs that come with it, as well as all of the spin-off business. I firmly believe that the new airport will foster this kind of development. I think any federal dollars spent here in Erie County as opposed to somewhere else is positive for us.
Michael Printy: The development of airport at NASA will be a combine effort of several counties along with funds provided by the FFA. If we are successful in obtaining FFA support ad the cooperation of other counties, I do not feel there will be a large burden on the taxpayers. The airport will support tourism to northern Ohio and not only the up and down nature of NASA. It is pretty well understood that a very active airport will stimulate significant economic development which will dramatically increase the tax base and reduce the burden on individuals.
sam: Erie County being situated on the beautiful North Coast is a tremendous underdeveloped asset. What ideas and potential do you see for future waterfront development?
David Mulvin: The cities of Sandusky and Huron have great potential for waterfront development. People who boat are looking for destinations. The North Coast has not capitalized on that in the same way that Put-in-Bay and Kelley's Island have. Transient docking is important, as well as the shops and entertainment that bring tourism to an area. The biker rally is a prime example. People will come, and they bring money.
Michael Printy: I feel that the cities of Sandusky and Port Clinton are showing us the proper way to develop assets along the waterfront. Residential development along the waterfront will most certainly occur but this limits waterfront use to a limited number of citizens. It is very important that Sandusky's marina district becomes successful and sets a standard for future waterfront development.
sam: Scheduling roadwork, a necessary evil, seems to always be accommodating to Cedar Point during the tourist season, but often times the roadwork interferes with access to smaller businesses. What can be done to help smaller businesses receive more equitable, considerate treatment?
Michael Printy: First, I must say that we all should be happy that we have Cedar Point and its necessary traffic. Many businesses set themselves in a location to take advantage of this traffic. Many businesses utilize this traffic to their best advantage. Businesses that do not depend on this traffic should locate themselves away from the Cedar Point traffic pattern. There is probably no one way to solve this problem and meet everyone's interest.
David Mulvin: As a businessman on a main road (Perkins Ave.), I fully agree. I believe that it is the duty of government to talk with business owners and determine good and bad times - solutions are surprisingly easy when communication happens first. This is the first step in more considerate treatment, which in turn, helps the business retain its traffic. Often, simple changes to a highway contract, concerning daily construction times is a huge benefit.
sam: What do you know about the social services being provided in the county? Are there social service issues that you are aware of and how would you address those issues?
David Mulvin: I believe that the commissioners' goal to promote activities to ensure that children receive appropriate and permanent family and home that meets their needs should be a priority for everyone. Delivering quality social services, and reducing the number of children awaiting adoption should receive the commissioners' utmost attention.
Michael Printy: I had an excellent opportunity to attend a strategic planning session with Job and Family Services and had the opportunity to speak directly with Judith Englehart. I was extremely impressed with the comprehensiveness of their programs and the dedication of their various department heads. Also, I have heard several annual summary reports from Sue Daughtery at Serving Our Seniors. Once again, I was extremely impressed with the broad range of services being provided. The biggest issue we can address is to develop very active recreational programs for our children. People are suggesting to me that we need a comprehensive recreation center.
Stay_Focused: Should a candidate's family values be considered when electing a county commissioner?
David Mulvin: Yes, I believe they should. The problem is, how exactly do you know his or her values? I believe Bill Clinton was a great president, and believed in his values. I still do. He made some mistakes, as I believe everyone does. It's what we do about those mistakes that matters most.
Michael Printy: When I talk to the experts it seems that traditional family values are the most successful format for raising children and building strong communities. Job and Family Services even has a goal to place children in stable households. Family values fit very nicely with our school system and community activities such as parades, sports leagues, festivals and other community events.