Jim Hoppel is currently serving a record fourth term as Columbiana County commissioner and is seeking his fifth term against Joe Csonka, a Center Township trustee.
Hoppel has been effective in leading the county through lean times and hopes to remain in office to reap some of the rewards of the improved local economy offered by the Utica and Marcellus shale booms.
He has plans to put shale drilling lease and royalty money, as well as the casino revenue coming into the county, to good use shoring up budget shortfalls and completing maintenance projects that have been on the back burner.
He also wants to bring back the county economic development director position to help bring new jobs and keep the county tax revenue growing.
He recognizes the growing drug problem within our county and wants to increase the sheriff's department budget to add more deputies and strengthen the county Drug Task Force.
Hoppel has served with eight different commissioners during his years in office, and regardless of political affiliation, he has had the ability to work well with all of them.
Csonka and Hoppel hold similar positions on many issues, with the exception of how the casino revenue is appropriated and immediately filling the EMA director position. Hoppel feels the commissioners should first make sure the county fills all of its budget holes before sharing it and Csonka believes the money should be divvied up among the townships and municipalities, much like the Local Government Fund money. Hoppel wants to wait until they find a more qualified person for the EMA job, while Csonka believes there are several good candidates to choose from the original list of applicants.
Csonka offers a fresh perspective and a common-sense approach to governing, but he lacks the experience that Hoppel offers to the job. And while Csonka has a tenacious nature, we fear this trait may translate into stubbornness and inflexibility when he must work with people who have views and goals which differ from his.
Hoppel also says he still has some unfinished business to accomplish and he feels the county's improving financial condition will help him get many delayed projects going.
Because of his effectiveness in keeping us afloat when times were tough, we feel Hoppel should be given the opportunity to help run county government and plan for future economic growth now that putting band-aids on hemorrhaging finances won't have to be his main priority.
Jim Hoppel deserves a fifth term as Columbiana County commissioner, and we urge voters to support him on Nov. 6.