Incumbent Joe Hintz, a Republican, is being challenged by Melissa James, a Democrat, and Bob Morgan, an Independent. The winner of the Nov. 6 election will join Terry Boose and Skip Wilde as a commissioner.
Hintz, of Norwalk, is completing his second four-year term. The Norwalk High School graduate was a farmer and worked in a factory. Before he ran for commissioner the first time, Hintz was self-employed at Qualicare Services.
“Most of my life I’ve lived in Huron County,” he said. “I was born and raised in Norwalk.”
James, of Bronson Township, announced in October she was resigning as the executive director of the Huron County Chamber of Commerce after 16 years on the job. She serves on the Huron County Airport authority board and has lived in the Norwalk area since 2000. For three years, James has run Square Goat Farms.
“I’m a farming member of the Huron County Farm Bureau,” said James, who also is a member of the chamber of commerce.
Morgan, of North Fairfield, is a South Central High School graduate. He is in his 33rd year serving on the Huron County Fair Board and has been the president since 1992. Morgan retired after nearly 32 years as a transportation manager for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
In the May primary, Hintz and James ran unopposed. Hintz received 3,087 votes on the Republican ballot while James gained 1,474 on the Democratic side.
This will be the third time Morgan has run for commissioner. Four years ago, he ran against Hintz and then two years ago against Wilde — both in the primary election. Morgan lost to Hintz by 38 votes and has said he lost by “400-some” votes when he ran against Wilde.
“This is the first time I’m on the November ballot,” Morgan said. “I narrowly lost last time on the primary ballot. I’m running as an Independent so I can be on the November ballot.”
Hintz said there’s “a multitude of things” that are important as a commissioner, including controlling the county budget, fiscal responsibility and “we have to keep up with the buildings.”
While being on the board, he said he’s proud to see the parking lots at various departments and agencies being redone for the first time in decades. One of Hintz’s passion projects is updating the fleet of the Huron County Sheriff’s Office, which he noticed was “wearing down” when he first took office. The commissioners have purchased 21 vehicles over the last several years.
“That’s one thing I want to make a priority because of the safety of the community,” Hintz said. “I think it’s so important to work together as a team.”
Another concern for Hintz is the drug and opioid problem.
“It affects so many things,” he said, referring to such things as employment and crime.
Hintz missed some commissioners’ meetings in January and February due to being in and out of the hospital for a foot surgery. He said he’s grateful for Wilde and Boose for carrying the load in his absence.
“Now I’m on the mend,” Hintz said, echoing a sentiment he told the Reflector in June. “I’m really feeling strong. … I’m back to my regular meetings.”
As a commissioner, he said “I can’t go by what I want,” but what he hears from the majority of residents. Adding that “Huron County is important to me,” Hintz said he believes he has many more things to accomplish as a commissioner.
“I hope I can serve here in the county for a long time,” Hintz added. “I want to be a commissioner for the whole county. … I want what’s best for Huron County.”
James said one of her strengths is economic development. If elected, she wants to make sure the commissioners make decisions on behalf of and in consideration of “all of the villages and communities” in the county — not just Norwalk, Wakeman and Willard.
“It’s everybody. … (I want to) make sure all of them are included,” said James, who grew up in Licking County.
“I think we need a proactive approach for the commissioners, not a reactive approach,” she added. “There is more of an inclination to sit back and let things happen instead of making things happen.”
For Morgan, being elected means serving the best interests of county residents.
“You’re here to serve the people of the county,” he said. “I want to serve the people of Huron County and do what’s best for everybody involved. … I want to do the best for the people of the county; that’s what I’m about.”