However, things are starting to turn around a bit for Republicans here. There has been a small population shift away from the urban centers like Lorain towards the suburban cities and rural townships in the southern half of the county. Two years ago, all three county commissioners were Democrats. In the 2010 wave election, Republican Tom Williams was elected. While any Republican running for commissioner here is an underdog, there is excitement that we have a real opportunity to place a Republican majority on the commission for the first time in over 60 years.
Meet Phil Van Treuren of Amherst. Phil is an Army National Guard veteran, where he says he learned a lot about leadership and leading by example. His officer candidate class started with nearly 50 people, and when it was done, only Phil and 5 others remained standing.
|Lorain County Commissioner candidate Phil Van Treuren|
That hard work ethic is evident when you see how hard he works to connect with voters. Since we both serve on the Lorain County GOP Central Committee, I have seen first hand how often Phil is planning a fundraiser or knocking on doors or coordinating volunteers. He reminds me a lot of Josh Mandel’s story, and even has the combat boots he wore when he walked over 400 miles knocking on doors in his race for Amherst City Council. Phil says his goal is to introduce himself to every voter in the county before election day.
“I absolutely love being an underdog. I love fighting for what’s right, no matter what the odds are.” -Phil Van Treuren
Phil will face off against incumbent Ted Kalo in November. Kalo, in typical Lorain County Democrat fashion, has hardly even campaigned. Phil has been campaigning and introducing himself to voters for months. As of the latest financial report, Phil has twice as much money in the bank as Kalo, and raised more in the primary season than any other Lorain County Republican candidate in history. In the primary, Phil received about the same number of votes as Kalo did in his primary. That has never happened before.
Ted Kalo has also landed himself in some trouble. He was sued by the city of Lorain for being delinquent on a loan for his failed business. From the Lorain Morning Journal.
The loans were given as part of the Commercial Facade Improvement Program, secured from the Community Development Department, according to the complaint. Kalo is approximately $55,463.19 delinquent. He said he also took out a loan from CIT Small Business Lending and he still owes roughly $550,000 on that mortgage.
Kalo faced foreclosure on the property in 2007 and said this complaint is another step in the process to losing the building. He has since moved his business to 1125 North Ridge Road in Sheffield Township.
Kalo said the building will be advertised for sheriff’s sale today. The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office appraised the building at $159,000, even though he’s invested more than $800,000 into it, he said.
|Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo|
If somebody invests $800,000 into a property, and it’s worth $159,000, that should tell you that he isn’t qualified to responsibly handle the finances of an entire county. Kalo was also sued 5 years ago by a lending company for $760,000 in unpaid loans. Of course, none of this is Kalo’s fault. It’s because of the economic downturn and…er… 9/11.
Phil has identified waste by Kalo and the other commissioners, including some expenses that were in violation of Ohio Revised Code. ORC requires that county expenses over $25,000 shall be subject to competitive bidding, but Van Treuren has identified no-bid payments to a supplier that exceeded that amount consistently for the last several years. Van Treuren says that the law is clear, and that this oversight shows evidence that taxpayer money isn’t being spent responsibly by the Lorain County Commissioners.
Lorain County enjoys one of the lowest sales taxes in Ohio. But even though Lorain County is on pace for a record year in sales tax collections, Kalo has repeatedly pushed to raise the county sales tax.
Williams said he still thinks the commissioners will need to make cuts before 2013 in order to keep the budget in the black.
“While things are OK and we’re above water, we’ve got to plan for the future,” he said.
Kalo and Commissioner Lori Kokoski have dragged their feet on making those cuts, Williams said, probably because they both are facing re-election this year.
Kalo scoffed at the suggestion that he was avoiding tough decisions because it’s an election year. He said he’s routinely pushed sales tax increases, including this year, when he’s been on the ballot.
“I haven’t let election years change my view of what we need to do with county government,” he said.
Phil Van Treuren is opposed to raising taxes in Lorain County and believes that the commissioners need to spend the taxpayers’ money more responsibly. In addition, he has promised that he will be a full-time commissioner. Kalo’s time is divided between his business and his duties as commissioner. Van Treuren wants to have no such distractions.
You can donate to Phil’s campaign at his website. If you live in the Lorain County area, I hope you’ll sign up to help volunteer for Phil and contact his campaign for a list of upcoming events. I know he’ll be thrilled to hear from you and will personally contact you back.