Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Hamilton County Commissioner

Winner Heimlich plans changes

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Phil Heimlich has been promising for months to watch taxpayers' wallets as a member of the Hamilton County Commission.

He'll get that chance.

• Taxes: Mr. Heimlich pledges to hold new taxes and government spending to less than the rate of inflation. He wants independent outside review of all county departments and any new special levies before they appear on a ballot.
• Managed competition: Mr. Heimlich wants to allow private companies to bid on providing government services.
• No frills: Mr. Heimlich is not likely to support "economic development" grants for events such as the Riverfront Classic football game, Mobile Skatepark Series skateboarding festivals or the city's jazz festival.
A four-term Republican on Cincinnati council, Mr. Heimlich's first run at countywide office was successful Tuesday. He collected 60 percent of the vote, to Democrat Dr. Jean Siebenaler's 40 percent, with all of the county's 1,025 precincts reporting.

Mr. Heimlich said the commission can expect changes when he takes the seat being vacated by Republican Tom Neyer in January. Mr. Neyer voted with Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, on many economic development projects in the past year, such as low-interest home improvement loans and grants for events such as the Riverfront Classic college football gameand downtown skateboard and jazz festivals.

Mr. Heimlich said his political philosophy is closely aligned with Commissioner John Dowlin, who voted against all of those grants.

"I would never have supported funding a skateboard festival or the classic football game. ... They are not things that people in Hyde Park or Anderson Township want their taxes to go for," he said.

Ms. Siebenaler, trying to become just the second woman elected to the commission, said she plans to keep her focus on public service.

"I'm real proud of the race we ran," she said.

Mr. Heimlich said focusing on the county's basic services will take on a new look under his leadership. He wants independent, outside review of all government departments to be mandatory. He wants the same type of review for all special levies.

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