Both candidates for one of Defiance's two commissioner seats up for election on Nov. 6 have their roots in township government.
They are long-time commissioner incumbent Otto Nicely -- a Republican and former Noble Township trustee -- and Democrat Charles Bakle Jr., a Defiance Township trustee.
Nicely, a former Johns Manville employee, served as a Noble Township trustee for 15 years and had a brief stint as the county's highway department superintendent before being appointed commissioner in 1995. He then went on to win contested elections in 1996, 2000 and 2004, and took a fourth term without opposition in 2008.
Bakle formerly worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation and had been a deputy for the state auditor's office. He served his first term as a Defiance Township trustee from 2001-05, and after being turned out by voters in 2005 won new terms in 2007 and 2011.
But Bakle's first experience with elected office goes back to 1981 when he was chosen, along with numerous others, to sit on the city's charter review commission which drew up Defiance's governing document that voters approved in 1983.
Bakle has made some claims against commissioners which have proved controversial.
For example, he states that commissioners "misuse" community development block grants provided by the state.
But Nicely responds that "we've met all federal and state requirements on block grant money," and he believes Bakle's comment stems from the fact that commissioners did not provide Defiance Township "more grant money to finish paving on Indian Bridge Lane." That area sits in Defiance Township, just outside the Defiance city limits.
Each year, commissioners distribute CDBG money to local entities throughout the county.
Another claim leveled by Bakle: Commissioners have failed "to use prevailing wage rates on county projects using federal stimulus funds."
Responds Nicely: "We paid federal prevailing wage required by law."
The winner in the Bakle/Nicely race will earn a four-year term and an annual salary of $44,421 beginning in 2013.
Candidates for the other Defiance County commissioner's seat up for election this year are Republican incumbent Thomas Kime and Democrat Brenda Griffith.
The third commissioner seat is held by Republican James Harris Jr., whose position is up for election in 2014.
Profiles of each candidate in the Bakle/Nicely race follow:
Name: Charles Bakle Jr.
Address: 1204 Wayne Ave.
Education: Defiance High School graduate, 1974; University of Toledo graduate, 1978; University of Toledo master's degree in public administration, 1980
Family: wife, Penny
Occupation: Defiance Township trustee
Previous elected offices: Defiance City Charter Review Commission, 1981; Defiance Township trustee, 2001-05 and 2007-present
Party affiliation: Democrat
Reason for seeking office: To ensure that the county commissioners represent the whole county, not the favored few. The current commissioners do not support voluntary organizations such as the humane society, fair board and historical society. Volunteer organizations help make Defiance County the place we love to live. The current commissioners misuse community development block grants (CDBG) and otherwise fail to support the local economy, such as failing to use prevailing wage rates on county projects using federal stimulus funds.
Qualifications: My years of experience at ODOT in inspection/testing, my years in auditing, my years as a township trustee as well as my education in public administration and political science.
Top goals: Cease the misuse of funds I just mentioned. Use the CDBG grants for necessary drainage or road projects, a new vehicle for the senior center and support volunteer organizations on a steady, if minimal, level to maintain the county's quality of life. This can be done by working with my fellow commissioners to listen to the needs of the whole county.
How should the county courthouse's future be addressed?: It should be maintained and upgraded (such as modern heating/air conditioning) as funds allow to save utility costs and a historic building. Demolition would not be an answer.
What is the biggest challenge facing Defiance County government today, and how should it be addressed?: Continued tightness in the county's finances is the biggest challenge which can be addressed by looking at the needs of the county, such as capital expenditures, and prudently using funds for those needs in a way that utilizes local labor to keep the money in the local economy. Supporting volunteer groups which stretch funds for the county's best interest. Listening to the citizens who want to help to keep Defiance County a great place to live.
Name: Otto Nicely
Address: 09971 Ashpacher Road
Education: attended Defiance High School, obtained GED
Family: wife, Donna; daughters, Christina Kammeyer and Lora Nicely
Occupation: Defiance County commissioner
Previous elected offices: Noble Township trustee for 15 years; Defiance County commissioner, 1995-present
Party affiliation: Republican
Reason for seeking office: With 34 years experience, I would like the opportunity to continue serving the community with dedication, leadership, integrity and a balanced budget.
Qualifications: I have 34 years experience running township and county government with a balanced budget. I was superintendent of roads and bridges of Defiance County. I sit on the board for agricultural and rural steering committees for the National Association of Counties. I sit on the board of the rural action caucus steering committee. I serve as chairman of the Four-County Solid Waste District and I am chairman of the fiscal oversight committee of CCNO. I am chairman of the Defiance County planning commission and co-chairman of the health and human services committee for CCAO.
Top goals: My priority goal is to create jobs. To achieve this goal I will continue working with villages, cities and townships, and with the Defiance County Community Improvement Corporation, and with the state and federal government in obtaining grants to assist with new projects and creating new jobs. To operate with a balanced budget by closely working with all county elected officials. To ease the financial burden by working closely with the state legislature in removing federal and state mandates.
How should the county courthouse's future be addressed?: I understand the citizens of Defiance County turned down a sales tax for a new courthouse. So, if re-elected, I will continue to work within our budget to keep the present courthouse updated as funds become available.
What is the biggest challenge facing Defiance County government today, and how should it be addressed?: Reduction of funds from the state. Local and state government needs to be downsized.