EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series featuring questionnaires from candidates running for the Board of Miami County Commissioners. Part two, which will run later this week in the Miami Valley Today, will feature questionnaires from Greg Simmons, Joseph Gibson, and Jack Bastian.
MIAMI COUNTY — A number of Republican candidates and only one Democrat are vying for seats on the Board of Miami County Commissioners during the March 17 Primary Election. There are two full-term seats and one unexpired term county residents will be voting on during this election.
With Miami County Commissioner Jack Evans not running for re-election and retiring from the Board of Miami County Commissioners, there will be a new face on the board next year. There are currently three Republican candidates and one Democrat running for the full term seat on the board commencing Jan. 3, 2021. W. McGregor “Greg” Dixon, Jr., Wade H. Westfall, and Mark E. Williams will be the Republican candidates running against each other during the March 17 Primary Election. Jack R. Bastian, a Democrat also running for the seat, will run unopposed during the primary election and will face off of the Republican candidate who wins in this primary election during the general election in November.
Gregory Simmons, who currently sits on the Board of Miami County Commissioners, will be running against Joseph E. Gibson, who is currently the mayor of Tipp City, for the full term seat on the board commencing Jan. 2, 2021. There are no Democrat candidates on the primary ballot, so only voters who choose a Republican ballot during the March 17 Primary Election will be able to choose between Simmons and Gibson.
Ted S. Mercer, who currently sits on the Board of Miami County Commissioners, will be running unopposed for the unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2022. A candidate questionnaire was not requested from Mercer due to Mercer running unopposed in the primary election, as well as due to a lack of Democrat candidates running for that seat.
• W. McGregor “Greg” Dixon, Jr., Republican
Family information: My wife is Joyce, a retired nurse. I have a daughter Teckla (with husband Tim and granddaughter Caroline), who lives in Knoxville and a son McGregor, who lives in Hyde Park.
Occupation: Retired judge.
Position sought: County commissioner.
Previous political experience: City of Troy Director of Law, 1980-2009. Miami County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge, 2009-2018. Worked until 2019.
Qualifications: Practicing attorney for 40-plus years. Experience with supervising county employees and preparing balanced county budgets for 10 years.
Reason for seeking office: With my recent retirement, I want to continue my public service in a position for which I have knowledge and experience.
Goals for office if elected: Maintain fiscal integrity and a high level of county services without tax consequences. Find and investigate creative ways to provide healthcare to the employees, and continue positive and interactive governmental relationships with state and other county entities.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: To provide safety, security, and services without changing our current county success story.
• Wade H. Westfall, Republican
Family information: Married to Susan (Rindler) for 36 years. Four sons, Blake, Noah, Grant, and Austin. Four grandchildren.
Occupation: Owner/Operator Westfall Investment Properties/Four Sons Development LLC.
Position sought: Miami County Commissioner, Jan. 3, 2021.
Previous political experience: Miami County Commissioner, 1989-1993.
Qualifications: Everything that I have done has always involved the help and cooperation of other people. In my work organizing baseball leagues, downtown redevelopment, business creation, and as a former county commissioner, I have always been willing to serve and work with others to achieve real results.
It’s that attitude that makes someone a great public servant. I embody the spirit of someone that is firm in my principles, but willing to work with others that are committed to creating a healthy community.
I have a track record of getting things done, and I want to take that vision and work ethic to our county government.
Education: Piqua/UVJVS (UVCTC) Graduate 1979, Edison State Community College.
Reason for seeking office: To be part of a team that guides this county into a prosperous healthy future benefiting all its citizens.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek and goals for office if elected:
The biggest challenge facing any elected official is how to create a healthy economy where people have access to rewarding careers and everyone can benefit.
One aspect to that challenge is workforce development. Right now in Miami County, there are jobs that are going unfilled. Sitting down with those creating the job market and seeing what the issues are is critical.
One possible solution/opportunity is evaluating our present public transportation system. Is the present system helping create economic opportunities for our residents? This is only one issue critical to workforce development. Working hand in hand with Job and Family Services, our educational programs, economic development programs, chambers of commerce, non-profits, and employers to address other potential issues/opportunities is vital to success.
Our county has three distinct cities and a number of villages and townships that are looking to grow, each of which are unique and have their own strengths.
A job in one community can create a shopping, dining, and housing opportunity in another.
Taking inventory of our communities and leveraging those assets will create a healthy economy where meaningful careers are created and the quality of life is improved for all.
Our county’s development department has started by creating a county-wide economic development team. It is vitally important that this group has a strong start.
I want to be a part of a team that can help create a plan of action and set priorities for this group with the goal of benefiting all our residents while achieving real results.
Aging facilities: The ability to maintain county facilities is a critical issue facing the commissioners. The renovation or possible re-location of the downtown county jail is at the top of the list.
My track record of restoring and maintaining properties throughout the county is a unique skill (and) valuable to the board of commissioners.
Development and keeping talent: How do you invest in your workforce at the county level, retain those high quality employees, and provide the services that our citizens require while being fiscally responsible? Presently, there are 20 positions available on the Miami County Government website. Miami County is no different than any other employer, we must constantly be looking at our employee retention efforts. The present system of health insurance for county employees is a self-insured program. At the end of 2018, the fund balance was at a level of concern. I would encourage the Board of Commissioners and the advisory committee to continue to look at all options.
• Mark E. Williams, Republican candidate
Family information: Wife: Jessica, Leah, Michael, Brianna, Brayden, Alyssa.
Occupation: VP of Operations at Safety Through Engineering (STE), the family engineering business.
Position sought: Miami County Commissioner.
Previous political experience: None.
● BA in Applied Communications from Asbury College.
● Air Force R.O.T.C. through the University of Kentucky.
● Former Captain in the U.S. Air Force.
● VP of Operations for family engineering business.
● Voting member for multiple ANSI and ASTM National standards committees.
Reason for seeking office: Service and duty — these are the first things that come to my mind. My grandfather ran his own civil engineering business and instilled in us a sense of duty to be responsible and serve our community. That sense of duty played a big part in my decision to join the military. It’s also why I joined the Republican Party Men’s club soon after moving to Miami county, and why I said yes when asked to serve on the Miami County Ohio Board of Zoning Appeals seven years ago.
My training as a Logistics Readiness Officer in the U.S. Air Force, my experience as VP of Operations in our family business, and my commitment to the pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and local control ideals of the Republican Party uniquely equip me to serve the county. The prosperity of Miami County, and its future identity as a home our children and grandchildren will choose to return to, will be impeded or furthered by the decisions made by our county’s government.
Goals for office if elected: Transparent and open government is a vital part of adequately serving the citizens of Miami County. Every person should know their issues or concerns are addressed fairly and consistently regardless of the result. I sit on several national committees for ANSI and ASTM and am known for being a stickler on parliamentary procedure, because it is how everyone gets their fair say on the way to getting something done. Miami County deserves that same open and honest governance – it is just the right way to do it.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: Taxpayers expect the county to maintain services while understanding that every dollar comes out of their hard-earned checks. We need to do everything in our power to build partnerships that ensure every eligible state tax dollar flows back into our county, rather than Columbus’ pet projects.
There will always be needs to fund specific projects for various departments, but how we meet those needs and managing fiscally responsible change and growth will be of utmost importance. As a commissioner, it’s our job to make sure that the change and growth that happens within the county is managed smartly without degrading our quality of life and community values. We need to maintain a fair and open process for people to make their opinions heard though the growth of the next century.