Saturday, December 20, 2014

Voters pave way for new chapter on county board

8/6/2014

Despite low, but typical voter turnout, Tuesday was a good night in Franklin County. In the most local races on the Republican ballot, voters chose to retain state Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards, while opting for a new direction on the county’s board of commissioners.

Randall Renoud, a former Wellsville school administrator, provided election day’s biggest upset, defeating longtime public servant Don Stottlemire for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners District 5 seat. While we’re sad to see Stottlemire’s tenure on the board coming to an end, we’re buoyed by Renoud’s passion and willingness to be out front, providing structure and leadership for the county.

Despite low, but typical voter turnout, Tuesday was a good night in Franklin County. In the most local races on the Republican ballot, voters chose to retain state Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards, while opting for a new direction on the county’s board of commissioners.

Randall Renoud, a former Wellsville school administrator, provided election day’s biggest upset, defeating longtime public servant Don Stottlemire for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners District 5 seat. While we’re sad to see Stottlemire’s tenure on the board coming to an end, we’re buoyed by Renoud’s passion and willingness to be out front, providing structure and leadership for the county.

“I’m just a plain old simple guy. I’m nothing special,” Renoud told Herald editors before the election. “But I think I have the skills to work with four other guys to solve the problems of the county.”

The education system veteran has lengthy experience with Wellsville schools, having served there 44 years (33 as an administration). Renoud said that’s where he found his calling: Helping people, while handling them and their challenges with dignity and respect.

While we’re disappointed Renoud didn’t attend county board meetings to familiarize himself with the county’s budget process and other pressing concerns before running for office, the challenger said he already identified a few areas of needed focus. Among the major difficulties facing District 5 constituents, he said, is a tremendous high-speed internet and cell phone service gap — a major deterrent to economic development in an area that should be poised for growth. Having recently retired from the school system where he previously used the internet, Renoud said he was surprised to find home service was of such poor quality.

“We can stay like we are, but that’s not going to bring growth,” he said. “In reality, the global economy is here, and we can’t stay in the dark ages of the status quo.”

Roy Dunn, commissioner for District 3, expressed similar sentiments two years ago, noting rural areas of Franklin County face different challenges than those in more urban communities where access to such technology often is taken for granted. We hope Dunn and Renoud can join forces on the board to not only draw more and better service providers to the county, but also boost the development that should follow.

Renoud pledged to work with his fellow commissioners to the benefit of his district, even if it means compromising to make the best of a bad situation. Little is gained, Renoud said, in casting a “no” protest vote when a commissioner instead could accept the reality of the vote’s passage in advance, and carve out a silver lining for his district.

“You have to look for places where solutions are less obvious, but can pay off in the long run,” he told The Herald, also noting his philosophy of examining each issue on its merits rather than just taking a black-and-white view. “I will make fair decisions, not just make choices based on rigid rules.”

Renoud expressed confidence in his abilities, as well as the prospects of growth for his district, but said compatibility with the community would be key.

“I don’t want to be a spark that dies out,” he said. “I’ll lead the parade, but if they don’t follow, you know you’re not going the right way.”

With a new face slated for the board of commissioners, we’re eager to see what the future has in store for Franklin County and District 5. Personal dynamics on the board are likely to change, but we hope the commitment to service above self remains.

Tommy Felts,

managing editor

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