Preparation is key to any new endeavor.
Whether starting a business or purchasing a new car, going into a situation unprepared makes a successful outcome more of a long-shot gamble.
The general election race for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Second District seat pits longtime commissioner Ed Taylor against opponent Rick Howard. The incumbent previously defeated Butch Riddle in the Aug. 7 Republican party primary.
Challengers in both the primary and general election campaigns ran largely on the idea that Taylor, a 12-year veteran of the board, has served in the county role too long and has lost touch with constituents in the Second District.
Taylor, 66, Ottawa, however, contends his term of service — as well as his background in surveying, general construction and road building — make him best-suited to help lead the county forward on decisions that make a big impact on residents’ lives.
“After 12 years, I believe I have a good grasp on how county government works,” Taylor, who has served as board chairman six times, said. “I want to continue to make county government more open and responsive.”
His general-election opponent, Howard, 61, Williamsburg, comes to the race with a different perspective. A retired Ottawa police officer, Howard served previously as a Williamsburg City Council member and said he thinks his law enforcement background would help him provide fresh eyes when looking at the county sheriff’s office’s budget.
Howard said he was spurred to run against Taylor because other county residents told him about problems in the Second District not being addressed by the current commissioner.
“People can become too comfortable, lose their energy, lose their fire,” Howard said of longtime incumbents. “They’re just going through the motions.”
In addition to establishing term limits for county offices, Howard said he would support economic development to bring more housing into the rural areas of the county, but would lessen or eliminate the funding invested in such organizations as the Franklin County Historical Society, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and the Franklin County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“I don’t see that much tourism in Franklin County,” Howard said. “So I don’t know how much they could do to promote something that isn’t there.”
The Democratic challenger said he hopes people in staunchly conservative Franklin County can look past his party affiliation and vote for the best candidate. It isn’t about the “D” or “R” on the ballot, Howard said, it’s about the best fit for voters in the Second District.
On that, we couldn’t agree more.
But we don’t think Howard is that candidate yet, regardless of party label.
While we think he has honest intentions in running for the county board, Howard doesn’t have the understanding of county government he needs to jump head-first into the position. Though he makes some interesting policy points worth further discussion, he simply hasn’t done the background research we’ve come to expect from serious candidates. Howard said he hasn’t attended recent county meetings, followed recent county government activity nor explored the county’s budget.
On numerous questions about property taxes, county wages, agency funding and budget decisions, he admitted to Herald editors he had no answer and would have to study the issues if elected.
Howard might empathize with some residents’ concerns, but if he hasn’t already done the research to truly understand what would be expected of him as a commissioner, we don’t think he’s prepared at this time to step into such a complex county leadership role.
Taylor has a solid grasp of the issues facing Franklin County and a proven track record of supporting beneficial economic development efforts. He’s been involved with the budget process for the massive machine that is county government, and knows how to prioritize and pay for such projects as the new juvenile detention center and the more energy-efficiency modernization of the Franklin County Courthouse.
In discussing his suggested term limit idea, Howard made a keen observation.
“You’re going to have people in any position where you have to leave after two terms, and that would be a good thing,” he said. “And there are others it would be a shame to see them go.”
We think it would be a shame to see Ed Taylor gone from county government.
Re-electing him isn’t a gamble. He’s the best prepared to represent the Second District.
— Tommy Felts,