Saturday, October 23, 2004

Butler challenger took 'appeal' to ballot box

Lubbers tries to unseat Furmon

By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer

HAMILTON - When James Lubbers lost his court battle with his home builder and the Butler County Building Department, the judge told him he could appeal.

James Lubbers
Hometown: Fairfield Township
Age: 60
Occupation: Butler Tech heating and air-conditioning program coordinator; retired Procter & Gamble Co. climate-control technician.
Experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Hamilton City Council in 1989, 1991, 1993.
Education: High school graduate.
Personal: Wife, Mary; two children.
Quote: "I have no connection with any special-interest groups (builders, developers). I feel I can be a positive influence on the future growth of this county by being fair and impartial."

Chuck Furmon
Hometown: Hamilton
Age: 64
Occupation: County commissioner; retired police officer.
Experience: Hamilton police officer, 1963-93; Hamilton mayor, 1994-95; commissioner since 1997.
Education: High school graduate.
Personal: Wife, Peggy; two children.
Quote: "We've known all along that Butler County is a good place to live and to have a business. We tell our economic development people to promote that. We don't rest on our laurels."

Election 2004 page
Lubbers chose to run for county commissioner instead.

"This is my appeal," says Lubbers, 60, a Fairfield Township resident challenging incumbent Chuck Furmon. "There is no sense of having a building code if we don't enforce it. "

Lubbers, a Democrat, charges that the three county commissioners - all Republicans seeking re-election - cater to the developers and builders "who control the Republican Party. They care nothing about the citizens."

Furmon, 64, seeking his third four-year term, defends the department: "The building code is enforced. It is in place to protect all the citizens. The Building Department is very professional, and I support them."

Lubbers says another example of favoritism to developers has been the use of tax-increment financing, under which roads and infrastructure improvements are paid for by anticipated increased property taxes. The Democrat supports having developers pay impact fees before subdivisions are built.

Furmon says the special financing districts have helped pave the way for the county's growth. The tool may be valuable in the near future for financing the westward extension of Ohio 63 to Trenton, and part of the estimated $25 million countywide digital 800 MHz emergency radio system.

Lubbers, a retired Procter & Gamble Co. climate-control technician, also criticizes commissioners for the lack of road improvements in the rural western townships.

"We have big problems with roads in Ross and Millville that are not being addressed, because most of the funds are being spent in West Chester, Liberty and Fairfield townships," Lubbers says.

Furmon says he's proud of the direction the county is headed. He says his experience as commissioner and former Hamilton mayor is needed if the state - facing a $2.5 billion deficit next year - cuts the county's $5.5 million in local government funds.

Lubbers, however, says the county needs two-party rule.

"We need citizen representation on the county commission, not just career politicians. I do not intend to be a career politician at age 60," Lubbers says.


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