Saturday, October 30, 2004

Clermont County challenger derides 'club' atmosphere



By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer

Batavia attorney Peter Strasser is challenging incumbent Republican Mary Walker for her seat on the Clermont County board of commissioners with the contention that an opposing viewpoint is needed.

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"I see problems there," said Strasser, who aims to emulate Hamilton County auditor Dusty Rhodes as a Democrat in a Republican county. "Government here has become nepotistic and has become a closed shop to a select few ... (Having a Democrat) is like having a watchdog."

Strasser, 57, of Batavia Township, was a Republican ward chair in Cincinnati in the 1980s before switching parties.

Walker, finishing her first four-year term, says it's the same tune Democrats sing every year.

"His answer to everything is that there needs to be a Democrat involved," Walker said. "But clearly, people have been happy with the Republican candidates we've put forth. To say there are no checks and balances is ridiculous."

This is the only contested seat on the three-person governing body. Longtime Republican commissioner Bob Proud is running unopposed. The third seat is held by Republican Scott Croswell, who was elected in 2004.

Clermont County has changed dramatically in recent decades, shifting from a farming, Appalachian community to a rapidly growing suburban community that retains its rural roots but absorbs the defectors from Hamilton County.

"We're a great place to be, and that's why people are moving out here," Walker said. "That's why subdivisions and business developments are moving out here. If we do it wisely, that's a good thing."

Traffic, infrastructure and growth issues - as well as the oft-overlooked concerns of residents in the more rural, southern part of the county - are just part of what the winner of this race can look forward to.

Walker, 58, is a former Union Township trustee and is married to Doug Walker, a current Union Township trustee and member of the county planning commission.

Strasser believes some residents get a sour taste in the mouths when dealing with county government. He cites anger from Miamiville residents who oppose a new sewer plant as symbolic of a bigger problem.

"They felt this was all being done behind their backs and without their input," he said. "Government here has become imperious. Citizens are talked down to."

Walker says that's just campaign talk.

"We have been far more responsive than any administration before had been," Walker said. "I think Mr. Strasser is just trying to get elected and trying to find fault with the current administration."

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




ELECTION 2004
It may be trick, not treat, for Bush
Drowning in TV political ads?
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10 states that could swing it
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Schools say new levies are crucial
Northeastern faces deficit
Edgewood and Franklin schools put taxes to vote
Election turnout could be at 70%
'Limp wrist' charge angers Mongiardo
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Election 2004 section

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