Candidates set to race for Portage County commissioner

Two candidates are in the final stretch of the 2016 Election for Portage County commissioner.

On the Republican side is former Portage County Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett, who was appointed to the position in 2014.

Mike Kerrigan, currently the associate director of community relations at Northeast Ohio Medical School, is looking to reach his first term as a Democratic commissioner.

Bennett has experience as a small business owner of Bennett Land Title Agency, as well as her involvement in local leadership roles, as qualifiers for the position of commissioner.

“I’m used to making tough decisions as a small business owner, and I’m no stranger to doing it at a commissioner level as well,” Bennett said.

Bennett hopes to adopt a proactive approach to attract more businesses to the area.

“We have a lot to offer, and I just don’t think that … we do a very good job of telling our story,” she said.

Bennett added that she hopes this will encourage more young people to stay in the area as they grow older.

“I want to keep them here versus moving away for better job opportunities,” she said.

Kerrigan, a founding member of the Bio-Med Science Academy STEM School, explained that he has more knowledge about finding the middle ground, which would be of use in discussions with the other commissioners.

“I spent my entire career in the public sector working to connect people to find solutions to a problem,” Kerrigan said. “You get people to the right place and find a middle ground or else you can’t pass any policies.”

Kerrigan also said he intends to quit his position at NEOMED if elected to commissioner. His priorities include economic re-development as a way of raising awareness of local government in the minds of young adults and students.

“Win, lose or draw, this has been a lot of fun and I think I’ve learned a lot from it,” Kerrigan said. “Regardless of the outcome, I think we’re going to move forward together.”

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