EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of a two-part series featuring questionnaires from candidates running for the Board of Miami County Commissioners. Questionnaires from W. McGregor “Greg” Dixon, Jr., Wade H. Westfall, and Mark E. Williams were featured in the March 1 edition of the Miami Valley Sunday News.
MIAMI COUNTY — Two Republicans are vying for a seat on the Board of Miami County Commissioners, which will be a full term commencing Jan. 2, 2021.
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 running for the full term seat commencing Jan. 2 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.
Jack R. Bastian, a Democrat running for the full term seat on the board commencing Jan. 3, 2021, 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, who will either be W. McGregor “Greg” Dixon, Jr., Wade H. Westfall, or Mark E. Williams.
• Greg Simmons, Republican
Family information: Prior to current wife, I was married to my deceased wife Midge for 40 years. My current wife Patty and I have been married seven years. Combining our children, we have altogether six children, Sheryl, Matt, Leah, Aaron, Brian, and Josh; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Occupation: Currently one of three Miami County Commissioners. Retired with 25 years of county service. My years served in the county include the following: served for 20 years in a part-time position as a police officer, served as a chief probation officer of Common Pleas Court, was a manager of Child Protective Services, and was the director of the West Central Juvenile Detention Center for 14 years. During those 14 years as director of West Central, I acquired several noted rewards. Prior to the service rendered to the county, I served our country with four active years active duty in the Navy. I am the founding pastor of the Upper Room Worship Center, of which I successfully purchased a small church, paid it off, and, due to growth, bought land and had a new church built in Tipp City. I since have retired and continue to support and serve under my son, Aaron Simmons, to whom I passed on my legacy. I have served my church currently for 21 years.
Position sought: The re-election of Miami County Commissioner.
Previous political experience: Currently Miami County Commissioner since January 2017.
Qualifications: Education: Associates, Bachelor’s of Education, Master’s of Christian Education, trained with the U.S. Department of Justice, trained with Juvenile Judges College, U.S. Navy Training certificates.
The details of the significance of the education obtained noted above: I received many certificates with the county, including Juvenile Court administrator from the University of Nevada, and over 200 hours of Department of Justice training. As the director of the West Central Detention Facility of 14 years, I was in charge of the budget, leaving it with a carryover of $1 million of unencumbered money before my retirement. During the last three years of my current term as county commissioner, our team of three commissioners has maintained a balanced budget with carryover.
Reason for seeking office: I am seeking re-election first of all because I love serving the community. I have a lot to offer representing the communities’ concerns and the pursuit of making good decisions for future growth. I have built successful relationships with other elected officials and would like to continue working on projects that we have started. Some projects that I would like to see through to completion include the One Stop Shop, moving the Board of Elections and Ohio State Extension Office, and the Courthouse renovations. (During) the three years as commissioner, there has been a balanced budget and growth of surplus every year, supported getting security in the Safety Building and Courthouse, supported significant needed raises to deserving employees, weatherproofing the Courthouse, supported the updates and remodeling of the Animal Shelter, and supporting the plaza project and the upkeep of the fairgrounds.
Goals for office if elected: I would continue to work with other government agencies like Edison (and the) Upper Valley Career Center to attract and maintain the workforce, balance the budget with carryover, maintain our properties in the county, and continue to uphold the commissioner position with one having transparency and accountability.
What do you see as the greatest need to be addressed in the position you seek: The top three challenges facing the county are the following:
1. Balance the budget.
2. Employee health care. The county is self-insured. The county has put in $2 million extra in program last year. Different policies need to be checked out.
3. Currently looking at possibilities and price to have a felony addition added to the Incarceration Facility. The state is putting up $100 million a year for the next 10 years to update and build new jails. Commissioners are currently looking into this possibility.
• Joseph Gibson, Republican
Family information: From Tipp City. Married to Sonia for 28 years. Two daughters, Diana, 22, and Sarah, 19, both at O.S.U.
Occupation: Attorney/Businessman — Gibson Law Offices, 26 years — and Mayor of Tipp City.
Position sought: Miami County Commissioner (term beginning 1/2/21)
Previous political experience: Mayor of Tipp City, second term; Council President, two terms, City Council Member, three terms; President, Miami County Republican Men’s Club, fourth term; GOP Central Committee; and worked on various campaign committees in Miami County (Richard Adams, Bill Beagle, Dave Yost, Bud O’Brien, Steve Huffman).
Qualifications: Being President of Council in Tipp and running my own business for 26 years, I have had to manage budgets, watch the bottom line, hire/fire, set policy, and make tough decisions. Whether it is reviewing contracts, working on infrastructure, or helping in law enforcement, I can hit the ground running on day one and make Miami County even better than it already is.
Reason for seeking office: While I had thought about running for the Commission previously, when friends, neighbors, elected officials and members of law enforcement came to me and called on me to run, I decided I wanted to help. There should be change at the county commission, and my approach to local government is what is needed. We need a conservative, hands-on approach to local government, practicing fiscal restraint and better relations with other offices and other counties whom we work with.
Goals for office if elected: Better relationships among county departments and in dealings with local governments, (such as) cities, villages and townships. While I will be a critical and independent decision maker, beholden to nobody, I hope to be a consensus-builder, peace-maker, and policy-setter focusing on improving infrastructure, proper development, and improving employee and departmental morale. We need to get along! We must watch our spending, even in periods of economic expansion like we are experiencing. We need to re-think the 22-plus million dollar jail project and help farmers on property taxes. Cutting spending will be a priority for me. I have done this at the city level, and can do it for the county. I also plan on introducing the resolution making Miami County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
• Jack R. Bastian, Democrat
Family information: I have lived in Piqua since 1985 with my wife of 44 years, Saundra L. Bastian.
Occupation experience: I have served as director of Mental Health for Greene County, worked has a case manager for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, served has a police officer, and for the last 20 years, I have been owner of Upper Valley Investigative Services.
I hold a BGS degree from Indiana University and two associate degrees from Edison State Community College. I served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, and the U.S. Air force Reserve.
Reason for seeking office: I am a strong believer in public service, and this has motivated me to seek the position of county commissioner for Miami County. I believe local and community service is an honor because it places a person at the grass roots, working with people they serve. Up close and personal interaction with county residents allows for a better understanding of community needs and shapes the government for the future.
Goals for office if elected: I am committed to working with integrity, honesty, fiscal responsibility, and fidelity to the office and all citizens of Miami county regardless of there political affiliation. It is critical for success that we understand our community issues and challenges and that we prepare for the future needs of Miami County.