Former Mayor of Kent running for Portage County Commissioner

Tyler Goddard

When voters arrive at polling places around Portage county this Tuesday, they will notice the name Kathleen Chandler on the ballot for county commissioner. But what people may not know is the wealth of experience she has had at the state level of politics and locally in Portage county as well.

Chandler most recently served an eight year term in the Ohio House of Representatives 68th district from 2003-2010 and served eight years as a member of Kent City Council before becoming Mayor from 1990-1997.

“I was home for a while and was really kind of lost,” she said. “I have a lot of energy and am very interested in government, and one of the commissioners decided not to run so I thought I would like to do that again.”

Chandler previously served as Portage County Commissioner once before from 1997-2003. There is no term limit for county commissioners at the local level, which enables her to run again.

She said one of the biggest problems in the county right now is unemployment and under-employment. “One of the key focuses for me, if I am elected, is to do everything in my power to try to encourage job creation and retention,” she said.

Another major issue in Portage County is fracking. “Pennsylvania is shipping 99 percent of their waste product to Ohio and much of it is coming into Portage County,” she said.

While the majority of regulation on fracking is controlled at the state level, Chandler feels local government holds some responsibility too.

She said local government has a responsibility to ensure safety and health. “That would mean making sure that we know what chemicals are being injected and monitoring wells to make sure water is safe.”

Chandler said some of her proudest accomplishments came when she served as State Representative. During her term, she sponsored 29 bills and co-sponsored over 700 bills. She is particularly proud of her work and support of higher education.

She helped pass a bill that placed a freeze on college tuition for two years, and in 2010, she received the Jastram Award in recognition of her support of higher education in the State of Ohio Conference of the American Association of University Professors.

Chandler was also a part time instructor at Kent State for 11 years through the English department where she taught reading and study skills to conditionally challenged students.

She has even had the opportunity to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. During her tenure as Mayor, the city won the National Drinking Water contest so “Jay Leno called me one night.”

“He asked if I’d be willing to appear on the show to see if I could tell the difference between Burbank (CA) water and Kent water,” she said smiling. She estimated her appearance on the show was either in 1992 or 1993.

When the county voting precincts open Tuesday, Chandler will be running for the seat of Chris Smeiles who is the President of the Board of County Commissioners. She will be running against fellow Democrats: Jon Barber, Bill Davis and Christopher J. Mallin.

The Republican candidates are Larry Solak and W. Roak Zeller.

Chandler said she will bring her knowledge and experience in government to the office of County Commissioner if elected. “I work well with others and believe that collaboration and cooperation is essential for success.”

Contact Tyler Goddard at [email protected].