Budget is primary concern of Republican candidates

Amanda Garrett

Two candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for Portage County Commissioner.

Portage has three county commissioners. A county commissioner serves a four-year term and is responsible for nearly every department in the county.

The Board of County Commissioners fiscally oversees the budget of the county and decides how county tax money should be handled.

A commissioner’s salary is $62,766, according to the Portage County Commissioners’ Office.

Shalersville Trustee Larry Solak and Aurora resident Meg Hudson are running in the May 2 primary to face either current Commissioner Chuck Keiper or Freedom Township Trustee William McDowell in the general election in November.

Solak ran for commissioner in 2004 but lost to Democrat Maureen Frederick.

Although Portage County has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold, Solak said he believes county residents are ready for a Republican candidate.

“I think people in this county are tired of increased taxation,” he said.

Solak is running on a platform of lowering taxes and balancing Portage County’s budget.

If elected, Solak plans on encouraging the departments to pare off a lot of spending and expenses.

Solak said the county passes expenses, like sewer rates, off to the taxpayers.

Shalersville’s policy of conservative taxation has worked well for the township, Solak said.

“In Shalersville, we could have put a $5 tax on people’s license plates to fund the roads,” he said. “We chose not to, and we’ve still got some of the best maintained roads in the county.”

Solak also plans on increasing the size and scope of economic development in the county.

“The county government keeps letting them build houses,” she said. “Economic development is more than just building houses. It’s also building businesses as well.”

Solak also said he would work with Kent State to provide internship opportunities for students in county government.

Solak said he is qualified to be commissioner because he has been involved in the community for many years and knows a lot of people in the community and is involved in a lot of committees.

Hudson is also running on a platform of increasing fiscal soundness, creating economic development and providing internships to Kent State students.

Along with creating new businesses, Hudson would like to preserve Portage County’s green spaces.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth in the last few years,” she said. “I would like to see more growth, but I would also like to see us preserve a lot of farmland. It’s important to preserve the parks and green spaces.”

Hudson, who has lived in Aurora for 39 years, said if she is elected she will quit her job as a Realtor.

“I plan on making a full-time commitment to Portage County,” she said. “I want to give back to Portage County what Portage County has given to me.”

Both Hudson and Solak urged Kent State students to go to the polls.

“If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” Hudson said.

Contact public affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].