The same questions recently were posed to the two candidates in the Nov. 8 election for a seat on the Board of Clinton County Commissioners. Below are the answers provided by Dean Feldmeyer. Answers from the other candidate, Kerry Steed, will be published in the News Journal’s Thursday, Oct. 27 edition.
1) Name; age; community/township of residence; current occupation?
Dean Feldmeyer, 65, Wilmington, senior pastor for the Wilmington United Methodist Church
2) What are your qualifications for the position of Clinton County commissioner?
A United Methodist pastor for 36 years. I have lived in Clinton County for 16 years and served on the boards of six non-profit organizations including 11 years on the board of trustees at Clinton County Community Action (four years as chairman). President of the Wilmington Ministerial Association for 11 years, served on the Mayor’s Economic Taskforce and was named Outstanding Community Leader in 2008 by the Clinton County Leadership Institute.
3) Why do you want to be a commissioner?
As a Christian, I believe that I am called to serve the community. I feel that I have been given the gifts, and experiences that would make me the strong, caring and responsible commissioner that our county needs in order to make our county government effective, strong, caring and forward thinking.
4) Describe the kind of commissioner you would like to be.
Strong — with the commitment, resolve, and dedication to build a stronger, better Clinton County. Caring — understanding the struggles of all the people in our county and making decisions that benefit all of us, including senior citizens, struggling parents, ethical business, children, youth and those who cannot care for themselves. Responsible — accountable to all the county residents. Cooperating with other caring citizens in government, churches, schools, and businesses to protect and empower our citizens and communities.
5) What goals would you have if elected?
It’s not about my goals. It’s about our goals as a community. I would meet with people across political party lines, from town and country, from schools, churches, non-profits, and businesses to set goals that would serve the common good of the entire county — to make life better for all of us, and to make our kids proud of their homes so they want to live here as adults.
6) The commissioners oversee millions of dollars in public money. What’s your fiscal philosophy as to how that money should be overseen?
My first priority is that not one dime of our money should leave Clinton County. We have all the talent and skill we need, right here in this county, to administer our own revenue. And we have all the information we need to know how to spend or invest it.
There are always immediate needs and problems that require funding, but I would also require that some resources be set aside to be used for building toward a vision of the future for our county.
And I would push for the adoption of a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) that would measure actual progress toward goals in a concrete and visible way. A GPI would hold us accountable to a standard that anyone in the county could access at any time.
7) What are your thoughts about possibly reinstating the 0.5 percent supplemental county sales tax that rolled off at the end of September? Or put another way, will the county be able to stick with the lowered county sales tax rate of 1 percent compared to the prior 1.5 percent county sales tax rate?
As with all taxes, this issue comes down to services vs. revenue. What services do the people want their tax dollars to provide? If the two (services and revenue) don’t balance we have to either cut services or increase revenue.
If we can deliver the necessary and expected services without the 0.5 percent, then we owe it to our citizens to do so. But, if we discover that we need the dollars in order to deliver necessary services (as we did when it was first adopted) then we should ask the citizens to reinstate it. Ultimately, it should be up to them.
8) During the four-year term of office you seek, the county expects to receive millions of dollars from the sale of the formerly county-owned Clinton Memorial Hospital. What should be done with that money?
When it comes to the health of our citizens, Clinton County ranks 70 out of 88 Ohio counties.
The revenue from the sale of the hospital should be invested in the health, safety and welfare of all the citizens of Clinton County through —
Nutrition: Nutrition is at least partially addressed through school lunch and breakfast programs that are in place in our schools, and through programs like Meals on Wheels and congregate meals that offer healthy, nutritious meals to our senior citizens who cannot purchase or prepare meals for themselves.
Recreation: Providing opportunities and encouragement for exercise is also important. Safe hike-and-bike trails should be extended throughout the county. We need to address the huge void that has been left by the closing of the YMCA. Parks, nature preserves, and playgrounds create opportunities for exercise and contribute to the quality-of-life issues that make young families want to move in and raise their children here.
Socialization: The opportunity to meet and make friends contributes not only to the quality of life in a community but to the health of its citizens, particularly children and the elderly. The Wilmington Savings Bank Senior Citizens Center is answering this need for senior citizens. Parks and recreation centers provide the same service for children and youth.
Education: Keeping DARE in our schools and providing regular educational opportunities on such things as diabetes, smoking cessation, mental health, substance abuse, weight management, and effective parenting must be a priority for our county administration.
9) Do you wish to briefly add something that hasn’t been touched upon in your responses?
Our senior services tax has raised millions of dollars to serve the senior citizens of our county so they can stay in their homes, in the county they love, for as long as possible.
However, for the past 12 years we have been sending that money to Cincinnati to be administered by the Council on Aging, letting them determine how those funds are spent.
And we have, over the past 12 years, paid the Council on Aging in Cincinnati nearly a million dollars to tell us what we can and cannot do with our own money.
We have all the talent, intelligence and skill that we need to administer and oversee those funds right here in Clinton County. Our tax money should be kept in Clinton County and administered by Clinton County people for Clinton County people.