Thursday, October 28, 2004

Vote for Portune and DeWine

Enquirer endorsement

This year two seats are being contested on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners by four able candidates. Incumbent Todd Portune faces a challenge by retired Juvenile Court Judge David Grossmann, while Pat DeWine and Eve Bolton are competing for the seat now held by John Dowlin, who was defeated by DeWine in the Republican Primary.

We endorse Portune and DeWine as the best candidates.


Four years ago Democrat Todd Portune was elected to the three-member board, cracking the one-party domination of that body for the first time in more than 30 years. The result has been a county government that is more open and more responsive to the public's needs.

Portune's most notable cause has been leading the county in its suit against the Cincinnati Bengals. His contention has been that the county was talked into a bad deal on Paul Brown Stadium because the team misrepresented its financial situation. At first it seemed that Portune was tilting at a windmill, but a federal judge later agreed there were sufficient legal grounds to support a suit and Republican Commissioner Phil Heimlich, at first a skeptic, also came around to support the effort.

Portune has helped develop a one-stop center for obtaining permits needed for development and construction projects in the county and worked to improve the emergency communications system county wide.

In the decades that he served as presiding judge, Grossman built Hamilton County Juvenile Court into a national model with a number of innovative programs.

However, we are troubled by his suburbs vs. city philosophy, epitomized by his campaign slogan, "Don't give it all to City Hall." That's a reference to Portune's service on City Council, but also applies to Grossmann's fellow Republicans, DeWine and Heimlich. It is absurd to suggest that any of the candidates would ignore the 514,000 country residents who live outside the city. Our community will be served best by commissioners who seek to unite people with common interests. Grossmann's pitch is divisive and offensive.


Like Portune, Pat DeWine has shown the ability to cross party lines for the common good. As a city councilman since 1999, he built coalitions with Democratic colleagues and used windfall money from the city's Anthem insurance settlement to leverage an impressive revolving development fund.

We also admire DeWine's stand for managed competition, which the city adopted and then discarded over his objection. We think that would be a good proposal for him to try out at the county.

He also has proposed other efficiencies in county spending, including streamlining operation of the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Bolton, a Wyoming school teacher, was county recorder from 1992-1996. She is intelligent and articulate, but we believe in this race DeWine is clearly the stronger and more experienced candidate.

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