CARDINGTON — Four Morrow County candidates made their case to 200 voters who attended the County Candidates Forum at the Cardington American Legion last Thursday.
The candidates’ portion of the program began with Republican candidates for County Auditor incumbent Pat Davies and Connie McChesney.
Davies received her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from U.S. Military Academy at West Point. McChesney received her Bachelors in Accounting from Franklin University.
Davies served in the U.S. Army, working in technology and that has helped her on the job updating the software in the Morrow County Auditor’s office. She has served as auditor for the county since 2015.
She emphasized the value and hard work of her team as well as their success in updating the auditor’s website. She has had many favorable comments on the website and encourages anyone who has difficulties with it to come in to auditor’s office or to call with questions.
McChesney pointed to her qualifications in accounting and administration as well as her 18 years working at the Morrow County Hospital. She is Hospital Controller since 2019 after working there as finance manager and accountant.
McChesney said she did not have knowledge yet in many aspects of the auditor’s office and pledged to give her full energy to the task if elected.
She said she is “cautious in spending and can take skills and experience from hospital experience to the Auditor’s office.”
McChesney was gracious in saying several times “Davies has done a great job as auditor.” She said her motive to run for the County Auditor’s office is to pull the county together with better communication.
Both Davies and McChesney have a history of clean audits in their departments. Davies noted that the county’s finances are better today with a cash carry over of $2.5 million.
On the hospital issue Davies said, “The Morrow County Hospital is necessary. The people own the hospital and services should be expanded. Options for healthcare should be looked at.”
McChesney said, “The hospital is my family. I know it is said it should grow – first the community needs to grow. I am 100 percent for the hospital.”
County Commissioner candidates
Commissioner candidates agreed in several ways on their approach to encouraging growth in the county. Both said that it is important to work to have infrastructure in place as Morrow County grows.
Both Jon Mason and Tom Whiston are graduates of The Ohio State University. Mason’s degree was in Agriculture Business/Economics and Accounting. Whiston received his degree in pharmacy.
Both have business experience; Whiston as a pharmacist and Mason with Jack Fishburn, Delco and as treasurer of Highland and Cardington School Districts.
Asked about goals for the county, Mason said he has worked on the farm and has worked with Pat Davies in his work as school district treasurer. His goal is to improve the county.
Whiston said one of his goals is to keep the tax burden down for citizens of the county. His examples include how the debt on the sewer system in Chesterville was refinanced to keep sewer bills down in the village.
Another example Whiston gave was working to obtain the $2 million grant for the SoMoCo sewer system in southern Morrow County. Residents and businesses in the area will be able to keep sewer rates down and there will be improvements in the sewer system.
When asked about the hospital, Mason became emotional as he told how his mother had been a nurse at Morrow County Hospital for many years. He said he would be satisfied continuing to work with the hospital and with Ohio Health. He did not believe it was necessary to have a new Request for proposal (RFP) from another healthcare system since one had recently been completed.
Whiston said it has been more than three years since an RFP was done for the hospital. He noted there is an agreement that has been reached with the hospital board and there is now an RFP committee to consider maintaining Morrow County Hospital and improving and expanding services.
When questioned about the amount the county spent on lawsuits concerning hospital business, Whiston said that the lawsuits were initially brought by the hospital board and were defended by the commissioners.
He said the hospital’s costs in legal fees are over $900,000, while the commissioners’ fees were $250,000.
The commissioners requested having mediation rather than lawsuits several times before the judge ruled mediation necessary.
When asked why local doctors were not on the RFP committee, Whiston answered that the Ohio Ethics Commission recommended doctors connected with OhioHealth should not be on the committee.
When asked about growing business outside the county’s interchange areas, Mason said work on the county’s infrastructure should be a priority.
Whiston named several ways the county was working to encourage business such as the new Solar Farm being planned in Washington Township, the completion of land-use plans and roads and bridges projects. He said there is a list of 25 projects that show progress over the past 5-10 years.
Facilitators for the program were Timer, Frank Hickman owner of Whetstone Business Consulting; Moderator Joey Powell, OhioHealth Security Officer and Host of Morrowology Podcast; and Moderator Mike Wilson, Honda employee and Host of Morrowology Podcast and WVXG radio host.