Candidates vie for Bethel fiscal officer


By Eamon Baird

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BETHEL — Incumbent Deborah Watson faces challenger Rhonda Ross in this year’s election for the fiscal officer of Bethel Township. The winner will start a four-year term beginning on April 1, 2024.

Miami Valley Today sent questionnaires to both candidates, and their responses are compiled here to let community members know the candidate they might vote for on Nov. 7.

Watson has served as the fiscal officer of Bethel Township since 2004 and was a member of the Bethel Board of Education from 2006 to 2014. She has two grown sons, Anthony and Andrew.

Ross is a software tester married to her husband, Tim, with one son, Zach. She is fiscally conservative and believes her experience in computer and business arenas makes her the best candidate.

Why are you running for Fiscal Officer?

Ross: “I am a graduate of Bethel schools and have deep roots in the Township. I care very much about our Township and its future. I believe this will be a great opportunity to give back to the community I love.”

Watson: “I have proudly served as the Bethel Township Fiscal Officer since 2004. The Fiscal Officer role allows me to pursue my passion with finance as well as serve my community.”

What are your qualifications for the position?

Ross: “My work history includes 20 years as an accounts receivable representative and four years as an account clerk. My responsibilities and duties included balancing large deposits, creating customer bills (both medical and water/sewer usage), accurately posting payments and adjustments in a timely fashion, performing data entry, and answering inquiries both face-to-face and by telephone. I have also taken meeting minutes and transcribed dictation from physicians for medical records.”

Watson: “My 20 years of experience as a Fiscal Officer, the training I have received and seek out every term, and my passion to serve Bethel Township.”

Why do you feel you’re the best candidate to serve?

Ross: “I am a dedicated, detail-oriented, honest worker who has a passion for numbers. I will provide the public with accurate accounts of how township dollars are being spent and strive to improve our audit posture by following all laws and guidelines. I believe transparency and personal accountability to the taxpayers are what is needed for the Township.”

Watson: “The position requires specific education and experience. With 20 years of training related to the specific position of Fiscal Officer, it makes me the best choice. I attend annual trainings and conferences designed by the State of Ohio to hone the duties assigned to me.”

What is the biggest fiscal challenge the township is facing?

Ross: “Transparency. The Ohio Checkbook is currently only updated every 2 years following a completed audit. I will update the Ohio Checkbook monthly. I will ensure information flows in a truthful and forthright manner to the public. In addition, I will not allow the meeting minutes to fall months and months behind – I will provide minutes in a timely manner with sufficient detail to inform the public of the proceedings.”

Watson: “For the Township to continue to operate with no debt, to bring the best service to our residents with the lowest cost.”

How do you bring more funding to the city?

Ross: “Currently, the Township receives the bulk of its funding from the 3.8 million dollar levy passed by our residents. I will ensure that we live well within our means and will strive to use the levy monies in the way they were intended. I will also be seeking grants to supplement our funds.”

Watson: “I currently have secured over 10+ million dollars in grants/federal funding since 2004. I plan to explore additional grant opportunities, federal funding sources and sound investment strategies for the Township. To continue to work on the Township Budget to ensure that we provide the best service to the residents at the lowest possible cost.”

Any comments you’d like to add?

Ross: “I believe I can be a positive change to make the township the best it can be. I am very passionate about and committed to: transparency, responsible spending, accountability to taxpayers, taking responsibility, personal integrity, and keeping accurate records. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me. I truly appreciate it. It will be an honor to serve as Bethel Township’s Fiscal Officer.”

Watson: “I wish to thank the residents of Bethel Township for their past support and anticipate they will continue to support the candidate with the experience needed for the job. I hope that my dedication and work ethic will earn your vote.”

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