Senior Enrichment Services held a Meet the Candidates event Wednesday evening, giving the community an opportunity to hear from the candidates running in the Huron County auditor and commissioner’s races. Each person was given a few minutes for opening and closing marks, discussing their qualifications and describing matters of importance to their campaign. They then were asked to answer prepared questions from a moderator in a non-debate format.
On Nov. 6, incumbent Roland Tkach will face Republican opponent Tom Dunlap in the auditor’s race, while incumbent Commissioner Joe Hintz is challenged by Democrat Melissa James and Independent candidate Bob Morgan.
More than 50 people turned out for the event, several of whom said their concerns revolved around fiscal responsibility. Jack Riley, of Norwalk, said that was the main thing on his mind when considering who to vote for.
Riley said he decided to attend the event to “hear the candidates’ views and to formulate an opinion based on their answers.” He said their ability to manage the county’s dollars was his biggest concern when going to the ballot this year, including the “increase of taxes, of course, and what goes with that.”
In both the auditor’s and commissioner’s races, Riley said he felt the vote would be determined by the candidate’s “qualifications and the experience they have.”
Pat Moffatt, of Norwalk, agreed, adding that she felt both auditor candidates are qualified in this area.
“I have not been that concerned, honestly, about the auditor’s race,” she said. “I feel Roland has done a good job over the years. That’s not to say that (Dunlap) isn’t a good man, because he is. And he has been very active in the community and county. I’m always pleased to see our income taxes are going up and they always seem to be able to manage the budget and still keep money in the kitty.”
Norwalk’s Pat McDonald said she’s concerned about whether the money will continue to come in to the county.
“We are growing as a city and my thing is whether the money is being spent the way it should be,” she said. “I don’t know a lot about how they do get their money, but I think if they don’t have the money, they can’t do their jobs. If they don’t have the money, what’s going to happen?
“What concerns me is I want the city of Norwalk to keep growing and to have the funds continuing to come in,” McDonald added.
After listening to the auditor candidates’ remarks on the office’s relationship with the commissioner’s office, McDonald said this also has become a concern for her moving forward. Dunlap challenged that Tkach didn’t know how to “work and play nice with others” and added that “the leadership is not where it should be.” Tkach said his job is to “stand between the tax payer and the tax spender in every case.”
“In all I do, I work for you,” Tkach said to the audience. “A county auditor watches over where the revenue is. That’s where my strength is. I give back to the community because I love Huron County.”
“I’m wondering, ‘How do the commissioners and auditor work together?’” McDonald said.
Moffatt said she’s also concerned with making sure the whole county is represented — not just the county seat.
“I think we need to spread out the commissioners. It is a county office after all,” she said.
“We’ve had Norwalk people for I can’t tell you how long. What happened to New London? What happened to Willard? What happened to North Fairfield? We have outlying areas and they have concerns that are not the same as those in those here in town. As far as the buildings and their upkeep, yes those are concerns, but there are others. There are roads, bridges, all of these other things that are outside of the city that need to be considered. I think we need to get people from other areas involved and in the commissioners’ office.”
Moffatt also said the ballot is filled with “sincere people,” making it hard for her to guess who might earn the community’s vote.
“I know they’re all sincere in their thoughts and action, so I don’t know. It’s very hard to tell,” she said.
Early voting in Huron County began Wednesday. The Huron County Board of Elections is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on Tuesdays when the offices open at 8:30 a.m.