Three vie for Portage County Commissioner

John Oberlin

For the three candidates in the Portage County Commissioner’s race this fall, their experiences range almost as much as the issues they see as most important.

The winner of this office will serve with two other commissioners, Democrats Christopher Smeiles and Maureen Fredrick.

Chuck Keiper

Democrat Chuck Keiper is the incumbent, with 13 years experience as county commissioner. He earned his master’s degree in business administration from Kent State. He is 45 years old and lives in Sugar Bush Knolls with his wife and three children.

He said he has a strong record of success and believes the people of Portage County have become accustomed to him.

Keiper’s most pressing issue is jobs, he said, followed by waste, drinking and storm water, but he said there are “dozens of issues and no quick answers.”

His Web site expresses that he has a “keen sense of what it takes to attract, expand and keep good paying jobs right here in our community.”

He says he will “foster dialogue and be a positive part of the problem solving mechanism.”

Keiper adds that he has kept his promises, such as reforming the county’s budget process in an open way.

Meg Hudson

Republican candidate Meg Hudson is running for office for the first time. She said she has gained leadership skills and experience as a realtor for Howard Hanna and the president of Multiple Listing Service, which provides real estate information to nine counties. She earned her associate degree from the University of Akron. She is 47 years old, has two children and lives with her husband in Aurora Township.

Hudson’s most important issue concerns creating a “strategic plan that includes all of the cities, villages and townships.”

“I want to see round tables put together to create goal-oriented plans,” she said.

Her second most pressing issue concerns the county-owned vacant property. She said the county needs a plan to attend to these properties.

“How can the community be using them, or if it can’t, how could others be using them?” she asks.

Hudson is also concerned with keeping tax dollars in the county. She said this is critical and wants to rally businesses to encourage people to do business within the county.

John Thomas

Independent John Thomas was a county commissioner for two years in the early ’90s, county auditor for two years in the mid-90s and Kent City Councilman for 15 years. He earned his master’s degree in business administration from Kent State. He is 51 years old and lives in Kent.

As an independent, he said he is “trying to take the best ideas he has to offer from both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat.”

Thomas’s most important issues are high-paying jobs, crime-free neighborhoods and a cleaner environment. He said all of these issues can be realized by making use of Portage County’s three areas of education, agriculture and business.

“I feel Portage County is unique compared to other counties in Northeastern Ohio because we have these three institutions,” he said. “We can market Portage County aggressively to the outside world.”

Contact public affairs reporter John Oberlin at [email protected].