Saturday, April 13, 2002

GOP candidates offering clear choice

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The two Republicans running for Warren County commissioner make a clear-cut contrast.

        Mike Kilburn, who has held the seat for two decades, and Daryl Dunn, who is in his first race for political office, debated the issues Friday for the first time in a session at the Enquirer's bureau here. In less than a month, Warren County Republicans will pick one of them to run against Democrat Carolyn Tepe in November.

        Mr. Kilburn is campaigning on his record of fiscal conservatism. For the past two years, the commissioners have opted not to collect the county's share of property taxes, and they built a jail and an administration building without borrowing money.

        “We're doing something right, guys,” Mr. Kilburn said Friday.

        Mr. Dunn is campaigning on the commissioners' record, too. They are too busy micromanaging county employees, he said, to address residents' top concerns as identified in a recent United Way survey: family issues, affordable housing and substance abuse.

        “While we're saving that money, we could be doing service for people in the county,” Mr. Dunn said.

        Middletown Regional Hospital's plan to move to Greentree Road in Turtlecreek Township — the county's most controversial issue — also was a major topic. Mr. Kilburn says he's not against the hospital, but he opposes the proposed location.

        It would be the commissioners' call whether Middletown Regional could annex into Middletown — a prospect that upsets some Turtlecreek residents.

        Mr. Kilburn admitted Friday that in a similar case — Fenwick High School's bid to be annexed into Middletown — neighbors' vocal opposition influenced his vote.

        “There's two types of property owners, and this property was a speculative property. It wasn't like someone's farming it, milking cows and feeding his family off the land,” he said. “... I think if you're a county commissioner and you're sitting through a hearing and you've got 500 people there from Hunter ... it's important that we listen to constituents.”

        Mr. Dunn supports the hospital's plans — the more popular position with some business leaders.

        “Will we leave the area to develop on its own, approving one subdivision after another?” he said. “This only serves to create an increased burden on the school systems and infrastructure with no real return to the county tax base.”

        Mr. Kilburn has his own proposal to slow residential growth throughout the county: a $10,000 impact fee for each new home built there.

        Mr. Dunn said he would support impact fees only as a last resort, and then on a sliding scale. To address the growing gap between housing costs and residents' salaries, he wants to encourage developers to build some moderate-income housing in all subdivisions.

        Virtually the only issue Mr. Kilburn and Mr. Dunn agreed on is the need for a college in Warren County.


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