Thompson confident of success in primary
Even without the endorsement of his party, incumbent Delaware County Commissioner Tommy Thompson feels as though his first term has been a success thus far, and that voters will reward him for it.
Thompson faces a three-way primary on March 6, in which he will square off against the GOP endorsed candidate, former Delaware Gazette publisher Gary Merrell, and Concord Township Trustee Joe Garrett. The winner of the primary will face Democrat John Hartman in the November general election.
Thompson said that his first term has been marked by a downsizing of government in the county, fiscal responsibility and smart, targeted development.
“I think that we’ve been able to show a lot of progress in three years,” he said.
He points to the sale of of the building across the street from the commissioners’ office that the county was renting for $23,000 per month, the decision to put on hold the planned construction of a new county courthouse and the decision to house federal prisoners in the county’s new jail as major accomplishments during his first term.
“We’re trying to make sure that when we have people in a facility, it’s a space that we own or that we are buying, not renting,” he said.
Another major accomplishment, he said, is the addition of a high-speed fiber optic cable that will span 16 miles, from the City of Delaware to Worthington. The fiber optic cable will prove to be a major draw for prospective businesses, he believes.
“It’s going to be great for businesses and industry,” he said. “Whether it’s put in for development or not. It will enhance development.”
Development will be Thompson’s main focus if re-elected to a second term. But he doesn’t just simply want development, he wants smart, targeted development that will allow for job creation but at the same time preserve the rural culture so prevalent in many parts of the county.
“If you just sat back and don’t do anything, things will still develop. But will it develop the way you want it to? The answer is probably no,” he said. “I think we have to keep sight of the fact that agriculture is still huge in Delaware County. We have to understand the difficulties and situations that our agriculture population is encountering.”
Thompson has lived in Delaware County since 1986, minus a brief, two-year hiatus when he moved to California to be closer to his son and grandchild. He said his time out west was an eye-opener for him.
“One of the advantages that I have, is that I did spend two years in the Los Angeles area,” he said. “I saw some of the mistakes that they made with the rapid growth and hopefully we can avoid those issues. Because we can’t stop growth. Growth is coming.”
Thompson, who spent more than 30 years in education before getting into politics, said that his time in the public school system is also an asset to his public service career.
“I think the thing that being a long-term educator has helped me with is the fact that I have dealt with a variety of people at a variety of age levels,” he said. “You learn a lot of people skills and management skills. You learn to listen to people. When mom comes through that door and she’s angry, you have to figure out why she’s angry.”
Beyond being a good listener, Thompson said that he has a number of attributes that make him a good public servant and will propel him to victory.
“I’m experienced. I’m qualified. I’m honest. I’m grounded in ethical principals and I have been fiscally responsible,” he said.