Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Troy needs to stay put in job as commissioner

I have been watching the Lake County commissioners since 1950. That goes back to my first days as a reporter here.

Some of those years I covered meetings of the three-member body. At other times I read about them, talked with them, and in other ways did my best to keep a critical eye on what they were up to.

My opinion of the many commissioners who held the office over the years was that some were outstanding, some were so-so, a few were terrible, and some merely occupied the office without accomplishing anything in the realm of leadership.

The latter bunch did little to distinguish themselves, but at least they didn’t go the route of Jimmy Dimora, the former Cuyahoga County commissioner waiting sentencing for a string of criminal acts he couldn’t possibly have thought he was going to get away with.

Many moons ago, I wrote a column in which I offered the opinion that three Lake County commissioners stood above the rest. I said the three greatest commissioners of all time were Bill Stanton, Jack Platz, and a third I didn’t name because he was still in office and I didn’t want my words of praise to go to his head. A couple others came close to greatness.

I am now prepared to name that third “great” commissioner — for a very specific reason.

The reason is, I want him to remain in office, because in the coming two years Lake County needs him more than Ohio needs him.

His name is Dan Troy, and he has two years to go in his current four-year term. But he filed for a different office, and will be on the ballot in November as a candidate for state representative.

He would probably win that contest because it’s an office he held for many years before he ran for commissioner, and he is well known to the voters of the district.

I also say he would probably win because the Republican-controlled legislature apportioned Lake County’s two districts in the Ohio House to make them “bullet proof,” that is, so that a Democrat cannot win in the East district (61st) and a Republican cannot win in the West (60th).

That has nothing do to with the quality of any of the present candidates. It has only to do with numbers of voters along party lines and setting boundaries in the right places.

The Apportionment Board worked its boundary magic to protect Republican Ron Young in the 61st and whoever succeeds Democrat Lorraine Fende in the 60th.

She cannot run again because of the dreaded term limits, so the two candidates there are the Democrat Troy and Republican Lori DiNallo, a member of Painesville City Council.

In the East end, Republican Young, who is not term limited, is opposed by Democrat Susan McGuinness. She is a fine candidate, but the numbers have been rigged in Young’s favor, as they have been tilted in the Democrat’s favor in the West end, even though DiNallo is a good candidate.

So, with an itch to return to Columbus (the scene of much satisfaction during his legislative service in his previous tenure there), Troy decided to run for the Ohio House again, even though he has two years remaining in his term as a commissioner.

I have given the matter a lot of thought. My advice to Dan Troy is this: Forget about Columbus. Take your name off the ballot and let your party pick someone to replace you there. Serve another two years as commissioner and, in 2014, consider running for yet another term as commissioner.

We need Troy here. We don’t need him in Columbus. He would accomplish nothing as a freshman legislator in the political party that is guaranteed to be in the minority. He would be a small fish in a very large pond.

In Lake County, he would be the dominant commissioner — as he has been for many years — on a board with only three members.

With veteran Commissioner Ray Sines retiring, a “rookie” will be elected to take his place on the board. Even though Republican Dave Fiebig and Democrat Judy Moran are both veterans of city council service in their own cities, that is a lot different than being a commissioner.

Furthermore, should Troy be elected to the House, his commissioner seat would be filled for two years by appointment by the Democratic Party. Frankly, I am not enthralled by some of the names that are being bandied about.

Troy has not been an ordinary commissioner. He has been an outstanding commissioner. Let’s keep him where he belongs. Join me in telling him to take his name off the November ballot, stay in Painesville and forget about Columbus.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commissioner Troy has indeed been an "outstanding Commissioner". I agree that the need is greater here than in Columbus.
Timing aside, if he chooses to stay, let's all remember to have his back in 2014.

July 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM 

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