Q&A Live: Erie County commissioner candidates Hayberger and Shenigo answer your questions

SANDUSKY Erie County commissioner candidates Joe Hayberger and Pat Shenigo participated in the third
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Erie County commissioner candidates Joe Hayberger and Pat Shenigo participated in the third of the three Q&A Live chat sessions Thursday night at the Sandusky Register.

Below is the transcript.

Q: What have you done to prepare yourself for the position of Erie County Commissioner?

Joe Hayberger

I have been a very busy for the last 5 years preparing myself for the position of Erie County Commissioner. I have been attending Erie County Commission meeting in all that time period. I have been able to observe the challenges facing Erie County. Also, I have been in leadership roles for many years. I am a Past President of my local teacher's union, Sandusky Education Association. I am also President, Vice-President, or Past President of 5 non-profit boards. An example of this would be my present position as President of Leadership Erie County, AKA LEADS. I enjoy studying various aspects of being a leader. I truly believe I have the necessary attributes to be a very capable leader of Erie County. I possess a very strong work ethic. I am a self-made man. I put my ownself through college. My parents could not afford to pay for my college. I am a persistent person. I knew at a young age I wanted to graduate from college. My strong work ethic made that happen. I am involved in numerous civic activities. My leadership roles and strong work ethic have prepared me for the role of county commissioner.

Pat Shenigo

I've spent the last 30 years of my life building roads, building communities, working within financial budgets, solving problems, but most importantly creating jobs. I've also spent my whole business career working with government agencies; sewer, water, highway, legal, zoning and finance. Business and financial skills are what we need today. While my opponent is fond of saying he has attended county commission meetings for 5 years, I don't believe that attending football games makes you a football player.

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Q: As a county commissioner you will be required to negogiate many contracts what is your experience in these types of activities?

Joe Hayberger

My experience in negotiating contracts comes with my dealings as part of the negotiating team as an educator. Negotiations requires patience and an understanding of the people involved. In the education circle, both sides would eventually come to an agreement that would satisfy their needs. Negotiations finally get resolved with a compromise. Also as a realtor, I have to negotiate contracts betweeen sellers and buyers. It is my job to get both sides to move towards the middle or a compromise. I have had much experience in working in this manner, as an educator and a realtor

Pat Shenigo

30 years of experience of doing just that - negotiating. My entire business life has been spent negotiating with customers, governments, banks, contractors, employees, etc.. People from all walks of life. While my opponents experience as a teacher and part-time realtor are commendable, they are not interchangeable with the operating of the business of government.

Q: For both candidates. What will be your attack for new jobs and job retention?

Joe Hayberger

I have said from the beginning of my campaign that my number one priority is to retain, expand, and or attract new jobs. In order to retain the present businesses or industries I need to be visible to them. By that I mean I need to meet and know what they need in order to stay in Erie County. I will meet personally with those individuals to find out that information. The attraction of new jobs is critical to Erie County. The NASA Plum Brook airport is a definite must. I will work with all regional leaders to see this project become a reality. The high paying jobs the airport will provide it the catalyst for more jobs in that area. Just today Lt. Gov. Fisher announced Huron and Erie Counties will receive an $80,000.grant to do an economic impact study. Iwill use that tool to attract more jobs.

Pat Shenigo

The NASA expansion and the adjoining air cargo center I believe is the biggest opportunity Erie County has ever had. The possibility of providing us with 2000 - 4000 new high paying, technology jobs. Our current facility has both the infastructure and state of the art testing facilities, which along with thousands of undeveloped areas for future expansion provide for limitless business opportunities. Add to this a runway capable of landing large aircraft and we would now be able to service technology oriented businesses from around the world. As a commissioner I would also work with NASA to capitalize on their abundant fresh water supply and market this to industries in this country desperately seeking fresh water. I believe my 30 years of business experience as an employer and job creator are just what we need today to make all of the above a reality. I will bring together our local, state, and federal leaders, as well as business and citizens groups to develop NASA into 1000's of good paying jobs our area desperately needs.

Q: What organizations have given you an endorsement and what personal or professional qualifications do you think those organizations considered important in reaching thier decision to endorse you?

Joe Hayberger

I have received numerous endorsements from a variety of organizations. First, I received an endorsement from the Firelands Association of Realtors. I have also received an endorsement from the North Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which consists of 23 local unions. Another union endorsement I received was from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Local #940. Lastly, my final endorsement was from the Sandusky Register. I believe all those endorsements were because those organizations recognized that I possess the leadership, work ethic, and passion for helping people live a better life.

Pat Shenigo

I hope to have the ultimate endorsement, the only one that counts, and that would be from the Erie County taxpayers. I hope they do believe that I am the most qualified candidate to help lead Erie County out of its current financial situation. I hope I have shown to the Erie County residents how committed I am to this position. As my sister and I know, we have personally knocked on 6700 doors throughout the county in the last two months and have met thousands of people which has given me a new understanding of the severity of the problems we all are experiencing and must be corrected.

Q: What is the greatest asset in Erie County and how would you maximize the benefit of that asset if you're elected? capitalize on that asset?

Joe Hayberger

I have told countless groups that I have had the opportunity to speak to that Erie County is very blessed to have two great assets. First, but not necessarily the most important, is Lake Erie. Because of our water attraction, millions of people visit Erie County for recreational boating, commercial fishing, visiting the islands, and Cedar Point and the in-door water parks. Many counties in Ohio would love to have what we have. The other great asset is of course the NASA Plum Brook airport project. That asset will be the single most contribution to Erie County's economy. The high paying jobs and the ripple effect will be felt throughout the region. This project will keep our local talent in the area and stop the brain drain. As I said before, I will work with all regional partners to see this become a reality.

Pat Shenigo

The obvious answer is our proximity to the largest fresh water supply in the world. There are many ways we must capitalize on this. First, the development of our shoreline. We have miles of literally undeveloped shoreline with one of the best views in the United States. The potential for this is limitless. Any new development adds to our real estate tax base which supports our schools and social services, not to mention, thousands of construction jobs that pay out payroll taxes to our local people. I think our greatest potential development can be out at NASA where we have an existing 36" pipeline running from Sheldon's Folley directly into NASA (this was the cooling water for the nuclear reactor that was recently removed). This pipeline 6 miles inland would be impossible today to build and we have it available at our disposal to offer to water starved industry throughout our country. This gives them an incentive to build their factories right here in Erie County.

Q: As our senior population continues to grow what can an Erie County Commissioner do to help seniors?

Joe Hayberger

I have attended many meetings held by Susan Daugherty of Saving Our Seniors. She is to be commended for doing so much for our senior citizens. Seniors have concern with heating bills and transportation. I will work with Saving Our Seniors to help get the information and the right people connected to make sure our seniors get the help they need. I would help with a letter writing campaign to make sure the necessary leaders attend those meetings. Our seniors are our treasured resource and I will do whatever I can to make sure they have the best that Erie County can offer. I always have a passion to help people live better lives.

Pat Shenigo

My years of service on the Board of Serving of Seniors as well as caring for my own aging parents, have shown me that there is so much more we can do for our growing senior population. I've worked with Sue Daughtery and Matt Buderer on the drug repository program that allows seniors to purchase prescription drugs for only $7.40 per month. When this program was in danger of failing, Sue and I went out into the community personally and talked to clergy and the medical community to make sure this program would survive. I also am heading a committee to coordinate our transportation efforts in Erie County. While it's in its early stages, it look promising that in the near future a sharing of transportation services could not only save much needed dollars but provide a greatly expanded service to our senior population.

Q: As County Commissioner you will have to work with many other elected officials, and set their budgets what system will you use to pioritize their request?

Joe Hayberger

Budgets will be a main concern of mine. Their has been and probably continue to be less money coming from the state and federal governments. That being the case, I will need to meet with department heads, well in advance, to understand their needs. I will ask department heads to ask of their employees, to get their inputs, as to what could be done to save money. The questions could be...where can we consolidate services, what duplications can we eliminate...and other questions I am sure will arise also. The department head will need to explain what is their absolute must have. After that, all parties will need to brainstorm for other ideas.

Pat Shenigo

Every successful businessman lives by a budget. Live by the budget and save for the future because you never can predict what tomorrow may bring. Well, tomorrow is here and the budget doesn't look so good - down 17% from 2007 (2007 was 164.5 Mil - 2008 is 136.2 Mil) with our savings dwendled down to just a little over 2 Million Dollars. Obviously we will have to trim expenses and certain departments will have to take priority over others. I believe that perhaps a new set of eyes from the business world, not another set of eyes from the government, is what we need today to bring expenses in line with our revenues. With this said, I will commit everyday to bringing in new good paying jobs as well as retaining our existing industry in Erie County.

Q: As a county Commissioner what role in the community do you believe a Commissioner should have?

Joe Hayberger

The role of the County Commissioner is to be an effective leader. This means knowing how to gain the respect and trust of all the citizens of Erie County. In order for Erie County to become the gem of the North Coast, I will have to be an effective leader. That means I will have to face the challenges and turn them into opportunities. Also, another dimension of a County Commissioner is to be able to listen, talk, and help the every day citizen. I will be approachable to any citizen that has a problem. If I cannot solve that problem, I will find someone who can help that person. You will find me everywhere in the county...just as I have been doing for many years.

Pat Shenigo

I believe we need a leader who is capable of "mending the fences" throughout our community as well as one who has the building and development skills necessary to move Erie County in a positive direction. Financial experience is going to be critical in the coming years as declining revenues and upward pressure on expenses have become a fact of life. In order to complete some of the things we talked about above, we are going to need a person who is a good communicator, a person who is capable of reaching out to our neighboring communities without regard to property lines and things of the past. Together we as the citizens of Erie County can accomplish more than we could divided.

Q: For both candidates. Erie County has communication problems and imaginary boundries. What is your plan?

Pat Shenigo

I assume by communication you mean regional dispatch. It appears recently that we have the beginning of a consensus that regional dispatch may be the right move for Erie County residents. Countywide dispatch surely will provide a quicker and more reliable service for fire, police, and ambulance. We now have two studies that have arrived at a similar conclusion. The big unanswered question remains, how do you pay for it without unfairly burdening the taxpayer. The only way this can possibly become a reality is thru some sort of federal grant along with savings of the consolidation of our many invidual dispatch departments. A person having a heart attack doesn't care which ambulance comes to save his life, just the quickest.

Joe Hayberger

In order for our area to become competitive in the world our region needs to start thinking regionally. We are not in competition with each other but cities in Europe and Asia. The sooner all of us realize this the better we all will be. Communication problems, I find, become problems when people email or even make phone calls and the intent of the message is not clear. In order to solve that problem of communication, I believe in fact to face meetings. I believe in the good old fashioned handshake as a measure of beginning good relations. Boundaries will disappear when there is a mutual trust and respect for each other. All parties need to focus on the big picture. The big picture being the economic well being of Erie County as a whole. I know how to foster those types of relations.

Q: This question is for both Pat & Joe. What experience do you have working with Union's, You have numerous Locals to over see in the county so what angle will you take regarding commuication with their concerns?

Pat Shenigo

I have never nor will I ever be opposed to anyone belonging to organized labor. My companies, men and women, have never asked for representation by an organized labor group probably because they were paid above-average pay and good benefits. Most of them have worked with me for over 30 years. My co-workers receive good wages, healthcare benefits, 10 paid holidays, 25% 401(k) match, travel expense and most get 4 weeks vacation. When our workload has dictated that we look outside our hourly people, we have employed 100's of union trades people who have done excellent work for us. I realize as a business man, that people must earn a good wage with healthcare benefits to survive today. When good jobs are available the entire community benefits.

Joe Hayberger

I am a life long member of union, Ohio Education Association and National Education Association. In my own local I was past president, vice-president, on the negotiating team, and salary team. I represented Sandusky Education Association at both the district and state wide conventions. I know what it is like to go thru impasse and mediation. Another side of being a union member is the education I learned that helped me to become a better teacher. The OEA had two functions protect the rights of their members and promote professional development.\ In communicating with the unions I want this to be an on-going situation. As with the last question, I will work to gain their trust and respect. I know I can achieve this.

Q: I would like a straight for the heart answer...why should we elect you to represent the residents of Erie County?

Joe Hayberger

I have lived in Erie County practically my entire life. Erie County has been a great place for my wife and myself to raise my two sons. My wife and I have been very fortunate to have the necessary means to enable our sons to become successful citizens. I am running for Erie County Commissioner to help make Erie County a great place for my grandchildren as well. I am running for Erie County Commissioner for everyone's children and grandchildren so that they too will have a great place to live and grow. They are our future. I possess the leadership, work ethic, and perseverance to help make Erie County a great place for our future generations. We owe them that. I am ready to go to work!!

Pat Shenigo

Because this is the most important job at the most important time in Erie County's history. I see opportunities for Erie County today that I would like to make a reality. The NASA expansion and the adjoining air cargo center will bring much needed high paying technology jobs to our community. I will bring my strong financial experience to our community at a time when we need it most. Jobs, schools, seniors and the business community all deserve attention today. These segements are intertwined with our tax base and spendable dollars. They cannot be seperated. My successful business background and strong work ethic will benefit the people of Erie County. I feel strongly that we need to provide our children the same improved standard of living that our parents passed on to us. I can promise you that I will work hard and work smart to develop any opportunites that will benefit Erie County and those of us living here. We all want our children to not only be able to afford but have the desire to come home to live, work and raise their families.

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