Union County Commissioner Gary Lee has said he will not seek a fifth term in office.
Lee recently announced that he will not seek reelection as Union County commissioner.
“I do fully intend to fill out my full term,” Lee said, adding that he will continue his work with “the same dedication I have always had.”
Lee said the commissioners are working on some projects he would like to see moved forward before he leaves office Dec. 31, 2018.
“There is always going to be another project,” Lee said. “There is never a good time to quit.”
He said he spoke with fellow commissioners Charles Hall and Steve Stolte before making his announcement.
“I think there is always concern about the unknown,” Lee said. “The three of us always meshed well.”
Even so, Lee said it is important that voters, not the party central committee, pick the next commissioner.
“That’s kind of what kind of drove my decision to announce now,” Lee said. “It allows for an open primary.”
Tina LaRoche, director of the Union County, said the announcement is not too soon.
“If they were thinking about running in the primary, they should probably start thinking about coming in to talk to us and get the paperwork,” LaRoche said.
She said filing deadline for anyone wanting to run for county commissioner is Feb. 7, 2018. She said the partisan primary election will be held May 8, 2018.
LaRoche said would-be candidates need 50 valid signatures to get their name on the ballot. She said anyone wanting more information about the process should, “Call us. We are happy to help.”
Lee said that while running for office is easy, serving is not. He offered advice to anyone considering a run.
“They are going to need to talk to any one of the commissioners to understand the amount and the complexity of the work they are going to have to,” Lee said.
Lee said there are difficult choices to make and the state budget and other things out of the control of the commissioners dictate many.
“It is about a two year process to get fully educated on all of the issues,” Lee said.
He explained that once he was elected, he met every day with the commissioners to get up to speed on issues.
Lee said he imagines the next commissioner will need to be retired. He said the job is “becoming a full-time job.” He said the next commissioner will make about $50,000.
Ohio Revised Code bases the county commissioner’s salary based on the county population. Lee said he believes Union County’s population will increase in the next census, pushing the salary to more than $60,000 annually.
“Now you are getting to a point where a guy could live,” Lee said.
He said he will not be seeking other political office. He said he will spend time with family and help with work on the family farm.
“I’ll be retired, but I think I will stay busy,” Lee said.
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