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Candidates face off for Medina County commissioner seat

There will be at least one new face on the board of Medina County commissioners next year.

Republican candidate William Hutson slipped past incumbent Commissioner Tim Smith by a small margin in last March’s primary election and now is opposing Democratic candidate Mark Kolesar on Nov. 8.

Kolesar, 43, has been a Medina councilman for 12 years.

“I have a track record of putting politics aside, taking every vote seriously and looking out for the constituents that I represent,” Kolesar said. “During my tenure on City Council, I’ve pushed for a common-sense approach, looked at each issue individually to make sure that when I vote, I’m voting for what’s best, even if it’s not the most popular choice.”

He said he’s lived in Medina County for 33 years.

“Living and growing up in Medina County has built an impenetrable pride and passion for this area, its communities and its people,” Kolesar said. “I’m truly blessed to have had this opportunity and I want to make sure we pass that quality of life to future families and future generations. I believe I have the ability and proven record to provide a much-needed boost on the commissioners’ board. I have a track record of putting politics aside, taking every vote seriously and looking out for the constituents I represent.”

Hutson, 55, said he’s well-equipped to be a county commissioner. He’s been a lawyer for 25 years, as well as law director in the Village of Westfield Center for the past 19 years.

“Look at my background,” he said. “Look at my experience and the skills I have to offer. I think I can do a lot of good things in a leadership role.”

Hutson was on the Cloverleaf Board of Education for one term, during a period when Cloverleaf was under fiscal emergency with the possibility of a state takeover.

“It was a very difficult time,” he said. “We took command of the situation and made some very difficult cuts and pulled the school through the crisis.

“We cut millions out of the budget,” Hutson said. “We made some hard decisions and had to get it to the place where it was solvent.”

After he left the board, Cloverleaf managed to get a levy passed.

“It’s on good fiscal ground right now,” he said.

Every suggestion the state made to Cloverleaf, the board had already discussed on its own, Hutson said.

Hutson also worked for Westfield Companies for 31 years in a variety of roles, ranging from the legal department up to executive roles. He said he managed a budget that was “eight figures,” at least $10 million.

“I’m familiar with managing large numbers,” he said.

Ready for challenge

Kolesar said he’s ready to take the step to become a commissioner.

“Voters want representatives to be transparent, honest, have a vision and make sure government is using taxpayers’ dollars as wisely as possible,” he said. “I truly understand that each taxpayer works very hard for their money and they deserve a return on their investment.

“As an elected official in Medina for over a decade, I understand the ins and outs of government operations, annual budgets, multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects, strong safety services, labor negotiations and making sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our business community vibrant and strong.”

Kolesar said he’s ready to take on many of the challenges facing Medina County.

“I will work with businesses, the Medina County Economic Development Corp., the Medina County Port Authority and local communities to keep business friendly, transparent and competitive,” he said.

He said the heroin epidemic has to be addressed on all fronts.

We have to make “sure we’re coming down hard on dealers, giving safety services tools needed to fight this epidemic and most importantly making sure we give users viable options to get clean and stay clean,” Kolesar said.

On another issue, he said he wants the county to maintain the Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township for trash disposal.

“We need a recycling program that constituents can be proud of and afford,” he said.

He wants to push for a new solid waste board consisting of two commissioners, one elected official from each of the municipalities, one elected official representing the villages and one elected official representing the townships.

“I believe everybody has been disappointed with the results, past leadership and relationship with counties and communities,” Kolesar said.

Concerning another issue affecting the county as a whole, Kolesar said he’s not excited about the proposed NEXUS pipeline project that would transport natural gas from eastern Ohio into Canada.

“If a corporation is planning a new project in our county, it needs to respect our homeowners, their property lines, their investment and their quality of life,” he said. “I would not be disappointed if they reroute the project.”

Kolesar ran unsuccessfully against Commissioner Pat Geissman in 2012.

He is married to Megan. He’s a deacon, a fifth-grade Sunday school teacher and works with the youth group at First Christian Church in Wadsworth.

Hutson’s strategy

Hutson said he and his team have put together a solid strategy heading into the election.

“We are rolling according to plan,” he said. “Quite honestly, I’m anxious for Nov. 8.”

He said the heroin epidemic is one of the biggest issues facing Medina County.

“People have a false sense that there is a solution,” Hutson said. “It will never go away.”

He said there are some things that can be done to impede the pipeline of drugs coming into Medina County, including education in schools and rehabilitation that is supported by the courts and prosecutors.

“We have to get them off (opioids) instead of throwing them in jail,” he said.

His view of the NEXUS pipeline is: “I support private property rights and believe that they should be afforded due process rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution and Ohio law,” Hutson said. “There needs to be balance between the needs of the community and individual rights, whether we are talking about an annexation, zoning change or pipeline.

“The location of the pipeline is a matter of federal jurisdiction. FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is responsible for approval of the siting of the line. Medina County property owners should be fairly and fully compensated for the intrusion of the line onto their property and should be afforded due process rights at law.”

He also has been studying the Medina County trash situation.

“The MC-18 Work Group is working on that,” Hutson said. “They have to weigh the cost with the risk and potential recycling. They have to make an intelligent decision on what direction to go.”

He said he’d like to see the work group retain the system called flow control.

“That gives us potential for the biggest bang for our dollar and the highest degree of recycling,” Hutson said.

Hutson said he’s been on the Medina County Port Authority for 11 years, which has supported the county’s 150-mile fiber network.

“As a county commissioner, I want to make sure we maintain our quality of life in Medina County,” he said.

Hutson and his wife, Laura, have two grown sons, Sean and Ryan.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.



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