Editor’s note: In an effort to provide equal time, this story is the first of a three-part segment about a forum last week involving candidates for local, state and federal governmental office. The event was conducted and hosted by AMVETS Post 23.
GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County candidates, both hopefuls and incumbents, met Thursday with local residents and veterans at the AMVETS Post 23 to discuss their platforms and court the support of voters.
Independent party Scott Rupert addressed the crowd first after being introduced by AMVETS hosts and organizers. Rupert described himself as an everyday American and a truck driver. Rupert’s belief is that the federal government has taken on too many responsibilities that belong in the states’ hands. He wishes to secure U.S. border and more stringently enforce immigration law. Many of Rupert’s views believe laws should be lifted off small business and manufacturing to promote business growth. Rupert is running for a seat on the U.S. Senate
Ohio Judge Matt McFarland appealed to voters after Rupert in his bid to continue serving in his capacity as judge on the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals. McFarland told the crowd that running for a judge’s seat is different than that of the county commissioners or a U.S. congressman. McFarland said it is up to judges to decide upon the spirit of law and protect the U.S. Constitution as best they can. McFarland asked the people of southeast Ohio to continue to trust him just as they had in his previous years as a judge. He promised to do his best to remain impartial and fair in decisions rendered in his court.
Gallia County Court of Common Pleas candidates took the stage next. Gallipolis Municipal Court Judge Margaret Evans took the stage with past Gallipolis municipal judge and probate and juvenile division of Gallia Common Pleas Court Bill Medley.
Evans said her court and officials attempt to deal justice in municipal court as fairly and impartially as possible. Evans spoke specifically on the issues of drugs being a problem in Gallia and the drug court over which she presides. The drug court started in 2006 and shortly after a mental health docket was also put into action. Repeat offenders are identified and put in a process to get treatment. The court makes use of Vivitrol, a drug which blocks opiate cravings and highs, as a means of treatment. The court is one of 15 in the state. Evans asked for the county’s support in November after listing her qualifications. Evans is a Republican.
Medley spoke of his past as a judge and focused on qualifications. He was previously a military policeman when in the service. During law school, he worked for a legal aide society to represent indigent people. Medley was a tenured associate professor at the University of Rio Grande and remained an adjunct professor after being elected in 1993. He taught several law classes while there. Medley served in the municipal court for 10 years and oversaw computerization of the courtroom, as well as mediation and domestic violence programs, which he noted were still in effect. He worked in the juvenile probate court for six years underneath the common pleas court. He asked the people of Gallia County to help put him back to work. Medley is an independent.
Candidates for Gallia County commissioner took the stage following the candidates for common pleas judge. Mark Danner, independent candidate, spoke first.
Danner said he was a graduate of the University of Rio Grande. Danner said he was running for a spot as a commissioner because he wanted to make an improvement. He said he wished to address the drugs and crime in the county and said he felt that the sheriff’s office may have their hands too tied to address crime and wished to help make that happen. Danner said he wanted to see the county do better for itself rather than settle for mediocrity. He wants to see Gallia excel over other counties and not just be standard. He wanted to be part of making Gallia a better place and asked for voter support. Danner has served with the O.O. McIntyre Park District.
Incumbent county commissioner David Smith addressed the crowd next. He discussed how he sat in office with the other commissioners to do the best they can to make the county run during hard times with small budgets. Smith said he was a proponent of getting a Veterans Affairs clinic established in Gallia County. Smith said at one point Gallia had about $100,000 in its budget at the end of a fiscal year. With the current commissioners’ help, he and the others have been able to oversee saving and acquire $1.3 million in the bank.
With past budget cuts that saw the four previous investigators in the sheriff’s office removed from staff, the three have been able to bring back three investigators, as well as purchase two new cruisers this year. Smith stressed the importance of saving money to save jobs in case of unforeseen consequences. Smith also said the county was ahead of schedule with the current county sewer project. Smith is a Republican.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.