Friday, May 28, 2010

The informed Electorate (by Mike Stegall)

This past Tuesday morning (May 25th), I had the pleasure of meeting some people at the Blue and White in North Star for coffee. The meeting was arranged by Andrew Dirksen, a fine young man who is helping me to meet more people in the northern part of the county. There were about 15 people present, most of them farmers, who have coffee in there in the mornings. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is always fun to hear what the people of Darke County have to say, and this morning I got an earful!

It is funny how most people in the county all have the same concerns: debt, jobs, new business, keeping the old businesses in the county, etc. What is interesting is how everyone has a different idea about how to go about these problems. The one factor they all have in common is what can elected officials do about these problems, and what is their plan. It was fun trying to explain what I foresaw for the county, and what my ideas were. Most were well received, and the ones that weren’t, well lets just say we had a “spirited debate.”

What makes this all interesting is the amount of rumors and misunderstandings about what the commissioners can and can’t do, plus what they intend to do. There seems to be a large amount of people in the county who believe the commissioners do everything behind closed doors, without public knowledge. Although this is totally false, not to mention illegal (the Ohio Sunshine Laws can be obtained on Richard Cordray’s website), this misunderstanding continues to exist. All citizens have to do is go to any commissioner’s meeting, look at the agenda, and ask questions!! Do not misunderstand. The commissioners have discussed what will be on the agenda before the meetings, but they can not vote on them without the public present. You, as citizens have the right to know what they are voting on, that is why they hand out an agenda. Be informed! The only way our republic works is with a well informed electorate.

Do I think the commissioners inform the public? Yes, meetings are posted for all to see. Do I think they could do a better job? Absolutely! I think they should designate one of the commissioners to write a column in the county’s papers every month or two to let everyone know what they are working on and such. I also think at least once a month they should get on our local radio station and tell people what they are doing and let the public ask questions. The commissioners website should be used more to inform people about meetings and agendas and such.

I also like the idea of having coffee meetings once a month in the mornings at designated places in the county, so people can meet the commissioners and ask questions and just chat about problems. These may seem like radical ideas to some politicians, but to me, this is what the job is all about: communication of our ideas. I thoroughly believe most rumors can be stopped by simply talking to the public. Some rumors severely hurt the county and should not be allowed to fester. This is the public official’s fault, and no one else’s. The better we can let people know what we are doing, the better we can do our job.

No one has the corner on ideas, so let’s talk to each other and find out if the solutions we have as elected officials are the best and most efficient. If we start talking, as well as listening, we all might learn something!



  1. The plan many would like explained is how some intend to build a new $10 million courthouse when they have no money!

  2. These ideas don't sound "radical" at all. In fact, to me, it sounds like some very simple ideas that potentially could have a big impact.

    If the Commissioners are willing to do this, then the only question is: Will the citizens of Darke County be willing to participate rather than just continue to blindly complain while irresponsibly being uninformed and disengaged?

    It's a 2-way street, folks!

  3. 2-way street, yes. But people sure rise up and protest a new school (only in Greenville) and any hint of an increase in any tax. Can they not grasp the basic concept that borrowed public money is simply a deferred decision to raise taxes?

  4. "I thoroughly believe most rumors can be stopped by simply talking to the public. Some rumors severely hurt the county and should not be allowed to fester."

    I completely agree with Mr. Stegall. Although they may not always provide enough open forums for interaction, all of our public officials are happy to explain anything you want to know if you take the time to call and ask.


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