Garrett ready to promote fiscal conservatism
Correction: The printed version of this story in Friday’s Gazette should have read, “By partnering with school districts, Garrett’s goal is to attract more businesses to the area, increasing tax revenues and avoid allowing school districts to go to the ballot and ask voters for more funds.” The version below reflects this change.
After serving for two years as a Concord Township trustee who reduced the size and scope of government, Joe Garrett is ready to take his brand of fiscal conservatism to the Delaware County Board of Commissioners.
Garrett is set to take on incumbent Delaware County Commissioner Tommy Thompson and former Delaware Gazette publisher Gary Merrell in the March 6 Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat John Hartman in the November general election.
“I became a trustee because, as a Christian, you’re taught to serve others using whatever gifts that you have,” Garrett said of his decision to get into the race. “I felt that it was an opportunity to serve more people.”
If elected, Garrett said that he plans to focus on three issues: restoring civility to the commissioners’ office, cutting spending and promoting development.
Garrett said that his is concerned about the recent verbal scuffles between commissioners that have occurred in public meetings. Those public disagreements do not inspire confidence in county government, he said.
“We need a little more civility, When you become an elected official, you are the representative of the people,” he said. “How you behave in meetings is, in my mind, a representation of the people that you represent. To be publicly arguing and fussing with the people you are serving with does not do justice to the people you represent.”
Garrett also plans to bring fiscal discipline to the commissioners’ office. As a township trustee, he said, he reduced full-time employment by 10 percent and saved the township more than $115,000 this year by cancelling redundant contracts and reassigning certain job duties. Those moves will result in $400,000 in carry-over funds for the township at the end of the year.
“In Delaware County, every Republican candidate is going to tell you that they are a fiscal conservative and the reason they do it is because they want to get elected,” he said. “The difference with me is I have a record in office of being a fiscal conservative.”
As the owner and operator of a a direct mailer company for the past 25 years, Garrett said that his time in the private sector has shaped his fiscal conservatism that he hopes to bring to the county government. “It’s a big difference when you’re the guy writing the check. Being self employed for 25 years, I built my business,” he said.
As a county commissioner, Garrett hopes to lessen the tax and regulatory burden on small business owners such as himself and attract new small businesses in the process.
“To have a strong economy, you have to have strong small businesses,” he said.
Garrett said that he would work with local school districts and other municipalities to lower taxes for all homeowners, especially those on fixed incomes.
“As a commissioner, you can’t control that,” he said of school district tax levies. “But we can work with the other entities. We are all in the same boat. All groups that use taxpayer dollars or have levies to operate, we’re swimming in the same pool and the water is only so deep.”
By partnering with school districts, Garrett’s goal is to attract more businesses to the area, increasing tax revenues and avoid allowing school districts to go to the ballot and ask voters for more funds.
“We have to find those businesses that fit those areas of the county to help out those schools,” he said. Garrett believes that his message is resonating with voters. He points to an online Gazette poll in which he garnered 140 votes, more than doubling the vote totals of each of his opponents.
“I believe it is because voters are looking for someone that is going to control government spending and I attribute those poll numbers to my record of doing just that,” he said.