By Dustin Ensinger
As the only businessman in the race for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Delaware County Commissioner Dennis Stapleton, Ostrander Implement owner Mike Kelley believe he is the best man for the job.
Kelley faces Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien and Genoa Township Trustee Barb Lewis in the May 6 Republican primary. The winner will take on Democrat Jacob Fathbruckner in November.
“I don’t think you want a politician handling over $70 million in revenue for the county,” Kelley said. “You want a business man. I’m a businessman.”
If elected, Kelley said his goal is to revamp the county’s economic development department.
“I think that there are several liberal programs that the economic development director is spearheading that I don’t agree with,” he said. “I think there are certain things that the Constitution says our tax money can and should be spent on.”
Kelley pointed specifically to tax abatements provided to companies as incentive to locate in the county.
“They need to not pick the winners and the losers,” he said, adding he does not believe the practice is fair to existing businesses in the county.
“Those business that have been here and made Delaware County what it is today are getting cheated,” he said.
Kelley also said if he is elected he will try to ensure that when the county does spend money, it is spent in the county, if possible.
“I don’t think the county commissioners are being smart in spending their money,” he said. “You buy local whenever it makes sense, and that needs to be a priority.”
In terms of development, Kelley said the county needs to be more proactive in anticipating where the next areas of growth are so it can make better decisions about water and sewer.
“We seem to be in a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode,” he said.
Kelley’s membership in the John Birch Society has led some Republicans to question his candidacy. But Kelley does not see his membership in the organization as a liability.
“I believe in God, the U.S. Constitution and smaller, more efficient government,” he said.
In fact, Kelley believes his John Birch Society membership could be an asset in the race.
“I’m the most conservative of three on the ballot,” he said. “I am definitely the most capable to handle the job.”
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-363-1161 ext. 344 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.