Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Time to work for the county good


The down-and-dirty Republican primary for Hamilton County Commissioner between incumbent John Dowlin and challenger Pat DeWine is likely to render the November election moot, with no credible opponent now in sight.

The county board needs commissioners sworn to attack wasteful spending, leverage sound private development, and work with city leaders to reverse the loss of population and jobs.

This Republican primary contest stood out for un-Cincinnati-like negativity. Big issues such as Hamilton County's ranking as a high-tax county and city-county conflicts got submerged in a sludge of charges and countercharges. DeWine attacked Dowlin for voting for a $600,000 sweetheart severance package for Administrator David Krings and questioned Dowlin's out-of-town trips. Dowlin used some of those trips to lobby for legislation or funding for the county.

But Dowlin and campaign chair Richard Finan didn't respond with equal firepower. They went nuclear in a commercial riddled with half-truths and personal smears. It accused DeWine of flip-flopping on a council vote for the Convergys tax break deal and claimed DeWine left his wife and children for a Convergys lobbyist. DeWine wasn't the "deciding vote" in an 8-1 vote; the voted deal was markedly changed from an earlier plan; he had separated from his wife and supports his kids; and his woman friend was not a "Convergys lobbyist." Dowlin pulled the ad, yet never repudiated his attack on DeWine's personal life.

We hope Dowlin's campaign hasn't lowered the bar here on sleaze.

On council, DeWine led repeated campaigns to roll back the city's property taxes and save tax dollars by opening city services to competitive bidding by private suppliers. Dowlin helped secure the property tax rollback offsetting the stadium sales tax. He led in pushing programs to relieve overcrowded jails without building new ones. Now that the primary is over it is time to forget the acrimony and work for what is best for Hamilton County.

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