On the first day of her new term as a Portage County commissioner, Kathleen Chandler sat at a desk already loaded with papers for review and said she was excited about the opportunities ahead for the board.
"We have three very interested, talented people to lead the county. I think we will work well together and do the right thing for the public," she said.
Chandler said she's been interested in leadership styles since her days on Kent city council. She said she's learned to value the different personalities and leadership styles people bring to the table.
"Leadership is sometimes like herding cats," she said. With different styles on a board, "you bring out the strengths in each other," she said.
Chandler is returning to the county board for a second term after eight years as a state representative. Previously she served with commissioners Chris Smeiles and Chuck Keiper. This time around she is serving with Maureen T. Frederick and Tommie Jo Marsilio.
Sitting at the desk vacated by Smeiles, Chandler had stacks of papers, bound reports and binders of referral information.
She said one of her first tasks was to acquaint herself with all the issues facing the board, review the job descriptions of a number of positions being posted by the board, and review a performance audit done by the sheriff's office.
She said one of her immediate concerns was the five-year update of the county's recycling district. The issue of privatization has dominated the redrafting of that plan which must be voted on by local jurisdictions before being presented to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for final approval. Chandler said she's already toured the Kimble Companies facility in Twinsburg and wants to tour the Greenstar recycling facility in Akron.
She said she's also very pleased with the economic development success of the Portage Development Board.
"That function is very important for our community," she said. Chandler said the collaboration of the PDB with the county, cities and businesses "is critical."
Chandler said the county is still facing a tight budget. She said she is hopeful the state will reinstate some of the Local Government Fund that helped counties and local governments. The fund was being phased out in the past few years to help the state offset an expected deficit. But the state's budget has recovered faster than local finances.
"So much the county does is at the request of the state," Chandler said, that the state should share the surplus. She said townships in particular "are caught between a rock and a hard place in being able to raise money for services."
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