Leontis focused on local action for global concerns

Neocles Leontis is on the Democratic Party ballot for the May 7 primary election, running for an at-large seat on Bowling Green City Council. I urge primary voters to cast their votes for this progressive candidate who has his eye on big issues like climate change while understanding that change has to happen locally.  Neocles is a long-time resident of Bowling Green – 32 years – who has been active in the community as a member of the East Side Residential Group, Peace Lutheran Church, and Bowling Green Kiwanis. He was instrumental in getting the city to install the solar array which has been operating since 2017. He worked with Columbia Gas to promote affordable home energy audits and insulation. He has supported Ohio Interfaith Power and Light with its mission to encourage responsible stewardship of energy and other resources.  One of his primary local concerns is to establish regular fire and safety inspections of rental properties, particularly older buildings and houses. He is as concerned about the safety of the student population as he is about saving them money in the long run through conservation measures like insulation. And his proposals for energy savings will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gases.  I have known Neocles for nearly thirty years, and I have always admired the way he stays broadly informed (he reads ravenously) and becomes personally engaged in community, social, and political matters. He is passionate about his beliefs and goals, but he brings a scientist’s systematic and practical approach to seeing them realized.  Change is inevitable. We just need to make sure it happens in both compassionate and rational ways. This is precisely where Neocles Leontis can make a local difference with potential impacts beyond our community as well.  Vote Leontis for City Council at large on May 7, or before: early in-person voting runs until Monday, May 6, at 2:00 pm. Geoff Howes Bowling Green

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Here’s how Wood County voted in Tuesday’s election

Wood County voters elected Republicans to local races, and passed two county-wide levies on Tuesday. Following are the unofficial results from the Wood County Board of Elections. Absentee ballots received as of close of polls were included in these results. Valid provisional ballots will be included in official count to be held no later than 21 days after the election. State Representative, Third District Theresa Gavarone: 29,759 (62%) Aidan Hubbell-Staeble: 18,058 (38%) Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich: 28,102 (59%) Buddy Ritson: 19,164 (41%) Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw: 34,602 (100%) Common Pleas Judge Molly Mack: 33,745 (100%) Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, 1-mill replacement levy Yes: 32,061 (67%) No: 15,901 (33%) Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, 2.95 mills with 0.5 reduction Yes: 34,546 (72%) No: 13,172 (28%) Bowling Green City Charter review process at least every 10 years: Yes: 5,684 (73%) No: 2,063 (27%) Bowling Green City Charter to replace vacancies on council with citizen vote at next election: Yes: 4,237 (61%) No: 2,655 (39%) Bowling Green City Charter creating department of planning: Yes: 4,846 (61%) No: 3,076 (39%) Bowling Green City Charter Civil Service Commission rule changes: Yes: 6,038 (75%) No: 2,005 (25%) Following are the unofficial Wood County vote totals in other races: Governor Richard Cordray (D): 22,230 (46%) Mike DeWine (R): 24,687 (51%) Constance Gadell-Newton (Green): 640 (1%) Travis Irvine (Libertarian): 1,131 (2%) Ohio Attorney General Steve Dettelbach (D): 22,567 (47%) Dave Yost (R): 25,307 (53%) State Auditor Robert Coogan (L): 2,343 (5%) Keith Faber (R): 24,308 (51%) Zach Space (D): 20,664 (44%) Secretary of State Kathleen Clyde (D): 21,602 (45%) Frank LaRose (R): 24,506 (52%) Dustin Nanna (L): 1,376 (3%) State Treasurer Rob Richardson (D): 21,045 (44%) Robert Sprague (R): 26,281 (56%) U.S. Senate Jim Renacci (R): 21,629 (45%) Sherrod Brown (D): 26,624 (55%) Congress, 5th District J. Michael Galbraith (D): 20,488 (42%) Don Kissisk (L): 1,235 (3%) Bob Latta (R): 26,840 (55%) 6th District Court of Appeals Joel Kuhlman: 19,774 (49.66%) Gene Zmuda: 20,043 (50.34%) State Issue 1 Yes: 18,189 (38%) No: 30,300 (62%)  

Votes all in

10:17 p.m. All the votes in. Levies & incumbents win big.   10:10 p.m. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, little has changed. Gavarone and Oesterich winning. Wood County voters back Republicans statewide. Margin for Galbraith closer in county than Latta’s two to one margin districtwide. 9:50 p.m. Finally 78 percent of precincts reporting. Republican Theresa Gavarone topping Aidan Hubbell-Staeble for Ohio House. Republican auditor Matthew Oestreich leads challenger Buddy Ritson, 60 to 40 percent.. Democrat Joel Kuhlman and Republican Gene Zmuda neck and neck with Zmuda ahead by 338 votes. Both ADAMHS and Woodland levies winning by two to one margins.   9:21 p.m. Republican Bob Latta has opened up a 2-1 lead over Democrat Michael Galbraith to retain his seat in the U.S. House.   8:42 p.m. Stopped by polling station in BGSU student union earlier this evening. Veteran poll worker said the turnout was very good. 8 p.m. Early results, including absentee ballots,  have the Woodlane and ADAMHS levies passing by large margins. In the race for state representative, Republican incumbent Theresa Gavarone leads Democratic challenger 57-43 percent. In statewide races, local voters are tilting Democratic. In Wood County, Democratic Michael Galbraith has a slender lead over incumbent Fifth District U.S. Rep Bob Latta, who has a substantial lead districtwide.

NAMI director urges ‘yes’ vote on ADAMHS levy

I am writing today to encourage you to vote yes on the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board 1 mill Replacement Levy on Tuesday, November 6th if you haven’t done so already. This is not a new tax, it would bring the old tax up to current value. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Wood County receives a majority of its funding from the ADAMHS Board to provide support, education, and advocacy for individuals affected by mental illness. One in five people are living with the signs and symptoms of a mental illness. Of these one in five, there are many more family members, friends, and colleagues affected by their loved ones condition. NAMI is able to provide support and education for all of the above mentioned. NAMI Wood County provides twice yearly free classes for family members and individuals living with mental health conditions through the support from ADAMHS. These classes and ongoing support groups are invaluable to those that utilize them. Many times, people attend a program and announce that they’ve not shared their story elsewhere. NAMI can provide that safe space for people to share, be heard, and feel supported by peers. Among the many peer programs that NAMI provides, there are a great deal of community education programs offered due to Levy support.  Mental Health First Aid teaches individuals how to provide assistance and access help for a person in a mental health crisis. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) trainings are coordinated by NAMI as well. This community program offered twice yearly provides law enforcement officers information in working with individuals in a mental health crisis. CIT companion courses hosted by NAMI include: Fire and Rescue Workers, Dispatchers, Behavioral Health Clinicians, Advanced Trainings, and Resiliency Trainings. The evidence based prevention and recovery programs that NAMI Wood County provides are national programs with statistics that have shown reductions in recidivism rates in both jails and hospitals. By supporting the ADAMHS Board Levy, you are making a difference in the lives of people affected by mental illness and the Wood County community. Jessica Schmitt Executive Director NAMI Wood County

State representative candidates voice varied goals

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The two candidates for Ohio House of Representatives 3rd District bring different backgrounds, beliefs and goals to the race. Incumbent Republican Theresa Gavarone is an attorney, business owner and former Bowling Green City Council member. Democrat Aidan Hubbell-Staeble is a political science major at BGSU and full-time employee at Kroger. Gavarone points to her accomplishments in the Ohio House. Hubbell-Staeble points to his experience pinching pennies and dealing with a family health crisis. During her first term as state representative, Gavarone noted her success in passing legislation that improves communication between law enforcement and drivers who have communication problems, updates Ohio’s overdue child support guidelines, and helps victims of human trafficking clear their records so they can get good jobs. “I know what a difference that will make – to break that cycle,” she said. Gavarone also talked about the capital budget passed during her term, which will help several local agencies such as the Wood County Committee on Aging’s new senior center, the Cocoon shelter, Perrysburg Heights Community Center, Northwood Miracle League field, BGSU forensics lab and Owens first responder training. If re-elected, Gavarone said she would like to continue working on the drug addiction crisis and mental health issues – so that people who need the care have access to it. She would also like to focus on education – making sure that students are being educated and trained for the jobs of today and the future. Hubbell-Staeble’s goals if elected are a bit different. He wants to make sure that families facing health crises aren’t burdened with financial despair as well. “It’s our duty to protect Medicaid expansion in Ohio,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone go through that.” Hubbell-Staeble also supports a “living wage” so that people who have full-time jobs don’t have to juggle other employment to make ends meet. “People aren’t making enough to get by. Wages have stagnated. People are struggling,” he said. “Working Ohioans didn’t see benefits from Trump’s tax cuts,” Hubbell-Staeble added. And he would like to work toward quality and affordable housing issues. During a candidate forum earlier this fall, the two outlined their beliefs during questions posed by the audience. When asked about the value of expanded Medicaid, Gavarone said the expansion has helped people suffering from addiction and mental illness. “We need to do a lot more,” she said. Gavarone added that the state needs to make sure the Medicaid expansion is economically feasible. Hubbell-Staeble said 650,000 Ohioans now have access to health insurance because of the expansion. He talked about his family’s experience – with his mom being diagnosed with breast cancer when he was younger, and the family having to declare bankruptcy. “I think that’s wrong. I don’t think anyone should have to do that,” he said. Hubbell-Staeble said he supports the expansion for health care coverage. “Coverage shouldn’t be determined by how much you make or how much your parents make,” he said. When asked at the forum for their stances on abortion, Hubbell-Staeble said he is pro-choice. “As a man, I don’t think it’s my right to tell a women what to do with her body.” “It’s been decided by the Supreme Court a long time ago,” he said. Gavarone said she is pro-life. “I believe in the sanctity of life and protecting the vulnerable.” Gavarone added that she also supports resources for women to get care and reduce infant mortality. And when asked about collective bargaining in the public sector, Gavarone said employees should be heard by their employer. But she added, “I’m…

Election will show if solid red Fifth is safe from blue wave

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News J. Michael Galbraith, a Democrat challenging, Republican incumbent Bob Latta to represent the Fifth Congressional District, doesn’t want to hear about “a blue wave” in Tuesday’s election. That only fosters the kind of overconfidence that tells Democrats that going to the polls is not necessary. That kind of overconfidence, he said at a meeting in the Lake Township Hall, is what he believes cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 presidential election. That overconfidence is what elected Donald Trump, Galbraith said. And the Democrats antipathy toward Trump was evident in the signs that decorated the podium from which he spoke. Trump, though, isn’t on the ballot. Latta, one of his “foot soldiers,” as Galbraith puts it, is. Galbraith told the partisan gathering that the Republican congressman who has represented the district since winning a special election in December, 2007, will be “retired” in January. The Ohio Fifth hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since 1939. The Democrat’s optimism is based on numbers, not surprising for a financial planner with international experience who has taught finance at Bowling Green State University. Part of those calculations include having “old-school Republicans” casting their ballots for him out of dissatisfaction both with Trump and Latta. (Libertarian Don Kissick is also on the ballot.) Galbraith said the fact that he was standing before voters in an open forum was an important distinction. And he promised if elected he’d continue to meet with the public in such forums. The incumbent has not be available to hear the concerns and fears of those he represents, Galbraith said. Latta, however, has cited more than 1,000 constituent meetings, many one on one, since he’s been in office. Many people prefer these, he said, because they are “intimidated” to speak in public. In a telephone interview from his Washington D.C. office, Latta steered away from talk about Trump and his behavior as president. The president had just announced that he wanted to do away with birthright citizenship, by which anyone born in this country, including to parents here without proper authorization, automatically are US citizens. Latta said he hadn’t heard those comments. Asked about the atmosphere in Washington, he preferred to talk about what he believes are the accomplishments of the past two years. Those include a tax reform bill that’s provided “massive help to the middle class and also helped all the businesses across the district.” For Galbraith that “reform” is rather a “tax scam” that benefits the well off at the expense of the middle class. The most pressing issue in the minds of voters he said is health care. “We should move to single-payer health system ultimately Medicare for all,” he said. He cited a study commissioned by the conservative Koch brothers, which they tried later to quash. That study, Galbraith said, shows that the national debt could be lowered by $500 billion with a single payer system. With all citizens including the young and healthy included premiums would come down. Latta has been a steadfast opponent of the Affordable Care Act, passed during the early years of the Obama Administration. He has voted multiple times to repeal it. Now, though, he said he is in favor of keeping some of its more popular provisions — making sure people with pre-existing conditions can get insurance, allowing offspring to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, and keeping limits on how much someone can spend out of pocket on health care over their lifetimes. Latta said he wants to make sure that Social Security would be in place for those who contributed…

Auditor candidates disagree over appraisal process

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The two candidates for Wood County auditor differ on a major role of the office – how property appraisals ought to be conducted. The Democratic candidate for Wood County auditor has accused the Republican candidate of outsourcing jobs. Buddy Ritson has called for an end to privatized property appraisals in Wood County. But incumbent Matt Oestreich is defending the practice, saying the vast majority of Ohio counties contract with private firms to conduct appraisals. To do otherwise would be more costly and less efficient, he said. Of the 88 Ohio counties, only 10 do in-house property appraisals, Oestreich said. Those 10 are the largest counties that have enough staff to do appraisals themselves. Property appraisals are done every six years, so most counties can’t employ enough staff to conduct those periodic jobs, he said. “You’d have to have trained appraisers on your staff,” to do the appraisals in-house. And those employees would only be needed every six years when the appraisals are conducted, Oestreich said. The Wood County Auditor’s Office has always contracted with private appraisal firms, Oestreich said. The firms work in the county for 18 to 24 months, then move on to another county, he said. Wood County currently pays $1,258,000 to a company named Lexur Enterprises in Dayton to have the appraisals completed, Ritson said. “These are jobs that can be done here in Wood County. With the number of contracts and the tasks associated with them, these are good paying full-time jobs that should be done here in Wood County,” Ritson said. “To outsource these jobs, as the Auditor’s Office is doing, is bad for the county and its taxpayers.” While the appraisals aren’t done in office, some Wood County citizens were employed in the process. According to Oestreich, during the 2017 mass reappraisal a Perrysburg resident served as the project supervisor, and two other Wood County residents worked on the reappraisals. “Having appraisers living in Wood County is a definite benefit to the process of determining real estate values, as they have a pulse on the local market,” Oestreich said. Through an information request with the Ohio Department of Taxation, Ritson said he found five additional contracts with Lexur Enterprises since 2014 that include yearly new construction updates, assistance with value defenses, triennial updates, and additional appraisal services. All of the contracts with Lexur Enterprises total nearly $1.75 million, which is paid out of the Real Estate Assessment Fund, according to Ritson. Oestreich said the county has approximately 75,000 parcels appraised every six years. The firm doing the appraisals is paid about $16.75 per parcel. “We look at the market. We look at the characteristics of the house to determine the value,” the auditor said. Property owners disputing the appraisals for their property can file appeals. Ritson found 164 appeals, which resulted in a downward adjustment of more than $2.3 million in the county property values. “Our property values are higher than they should be and this downward adjustment proves that,” Ritson said. But Oestreich said adjustments are a natural part of the appraisal process. Every appraisal year has its share of appeals – which is why counties have boards of revisions. The total market value of all the parcels in Wood County adds up to approximately $9.142 billion. It’s only natural that in 75,000 parcels appraised that there would be some outliers, Oestreich said. “Uniformity is the most important thing with appraisals,” he said. However, “the appeal process allows taxpayers a voice to help the auditor determine the true market value of some parcels which may be statistical…