PIQUA — With less than two weeks away from the Nov. 8 election, candidates and officials came together Wednesday evening for the YWCA’s “Meet the Candidates” night in Piqua to discuss local and national issues.
City Attorney Stacy Wall discussed two charter amendments that Piqua residents will be voting on, beginning with a charter amendment that would allow additional reasons for the Piqua City Commission to leave their public meeting and enter a private executive session.
Wall also discussed a charter amendment that would allow the commission to appoint the mayor rather than have residents directly elect the mayor. As it is now, in order to be elected mayor in Piqua, one must first be elected a city commissioner.
Mark McDaniel, executive director of the Tri-County Board of Mental Health Services and Recovery, then spoke about the renewal of their five-year, 0.6-mill levy, which was first passed in 1974. He said that the annual cost for the average homeowner in Miami County with a home worth $134,200 would be $19 per year.
McDaniel said that this renewal levy is critical in maintaining the Tri-County board’s current level of services.
Sheriff candidates make their cases
Next up, the candidates for Miami County Sheriff discussed their credentials and the issues at hand.
“I’m a veteran law enforcement officer of 29 years,” Chief Deputy Dave Duchak of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office said. Duchak said that he has spent the last 11 years of his career in upper management in law enforcement and has been a part of implementing a historical budget reduction while maintaining services at the sheriff’s office.
“I’m ready and prepared to fight the challenges that lie ahead,” Duchak said, mentioning the heroin epidemic, increased jail space, obtaining grant funding, and staying up to date on equipment for deputies.
Speaking next was Joe Mahan, who currently serves as the OPOTC-certified Basic Peace Officer Academy held at Edison State Community College in Piqua, as well as through other law enforcement affiliations.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 40 years,” said Mahan, who also attended Sinclair Community College and received a bachelor’s degree from Tiffin University.
“We got to address the jail situation,” Mahan said. “We got to get the deputies back out in the county where they belong.”
During the question and answer period, when asked how they would differ from the policies of their predecessor, Mahan said, “We got to do away with the ‘good ol’ boys’ syndrome,” and that sheriff’s office employees needed to be promoted by their merit, and that the jail settings need to be addressed.
“I’ve learned a lot from Sheriff Cox,” Duchak said. He cited community outreach, for instance, and said that he planned to maintain that. He added, “I’m my own man … We’ll always be looking for better ways to do things.” He said that the sheriff’s office will continue to keep up technology and personnel training standards.
In regard to body cameras, both candidates spoke in favor of them, but cited similar concerns of funding the cost and upkeep of them as well as privacy concerns.
“I am pro-body cameras, but we got to do it right,” Duchak said. “It’s very expensive.”
Duchak spoke about leveraging funds to receive grant money should the state ever mandate law enforcement having body cameras. Other costs related to body cameras include maintenance and server storage.
Privacy concerns were also mentioned, as videos taken on body cameras are currently public record. That means that it is possible any interactions with police officers could be recorded, including informants working with law enforcement, the inside of homes that they enter, and other situations that may be graphic or inappropriate.
“I will agree that body cameras (are) a must,” Mahan said. He said that in areas where law enforcement wear body cameras, the complaints drop tenfold.
Mahan shared the same concerns as Duchak, leaning heavily on the privacy concern.
“I’m not saying they’re not needed. They are needed,” Mahan said.
No issue was off the table Wednesday night as an audience member even asked about the suspicious clown sightings that recently popped up across the country. Both cited the influence of social media in bringing about more clown pranks.
“It did scare a lot of kids,” Duchak said. “It wasn’t a joke to a lot of kids.”
“God love social media,” Mahan said. “There is such a thing as inducing panic.”
Congressional candidates vie for seat
Following the sheriff candidates, the candidates for U.S. House Representative for Ohio’s 8th Congressional District were up, beginning with incumbent Warren Davidson, who filled John Boehner’s previous seat after being elected in a special election in June.
“It is definitely an honor to do this,” Davidson said. “There’s big problems that need fixed … We’re kind of tired of the status quo.”
His opponent, Steve Fought of Mercer County, has previously worked as a congressional staffer for Sen. Sherrod Brown and Marcy Kaptur.
“The real issues in 2016 is how do we save the middle class,” Fought said. He added that Congress needs to focus on jobs and economic growth.
During the question and answer period, when asked how they would differ from the policies of their predecessor, Fought said, “I’m a pragmatist … I’m going to try and find compromise.”
Davidson responded to Fought’s calls of compromise by saying, “Compromise is not a goal in itself. Sometimes it’s a means to an end.”
Davidson said that he did not believe in compromising on the Bill of Rights or in bankrupting the nation.
“Deficits do matter,” Davidson said.
When asked about bringing jobs back to Troy from China, Davidson said that he would be in favor of a corporate tax rate that favors exports over imports.
Fought spoke about the Trans Pacific Partnership and leveraging against China. He also repeatedly said that the U.S. needs to invests in roads and bridges.
Davidson later spoke on the need to manage programs like Social Security and Medicaid in order to bring down the deficit and keep it in check, speaking in favor of a healthcare amendment to protect private healthcare.
Fought spoke against privatizing social security and again cited making “investments in our country.”
An earlier version of this article stated that Steve Fought said that he did not believe in compromising on the Bill of Rights or in bankrupting the nation. Warren Davidson actually said that. The Daily Call regrets this error.
Reach Sam Wildow at [email protected] or (937) 451-3336