Stiegelmeier, Mastin polite heading into homestretch
Ryan Summerlin September 4, 2012
It’s the start of the homestretch for political campaigns across the country, but the customary crescendo of partisan bickering that typically crests in the fall of an election year is notably absent from the race for Summit County commissioner.
Incumbent Democrat Karn Stiegelmeier and challenger Kevin Mastin, a Republican, both seem more interested in highlighting their own qualifications than their opponent’s shortcomings, and both are more focused on talking issues than trading insults.
“I’ve known Karn for a long time and I like her, but I think honestly I can bring a much broader set of tools to the job than she can,” Mastin said.
While he bills himself a champion of small business and a diversifying perspective for the board, Steigelmeier is touting her experience as a sitting commissioner during tough budget times for the county.
“I’m very proud of all the work I’ve done for people in Summit County, particularly in an unprecedented time of declining revenue,” she said.
They’re sitting on opposite sides of the aisle, but neither candidate is firing along party lines.
They agree partisan politics tend to break down at the local level.
“In the past there has not been political partisanship,” Stiegelmeier said. “We’re really looking more at grassroots, on-the-ground practical decisions for communities. It doesn’t quite rise to the political partisanship level that you find in the state and national government.”
They do differ on the local issues, however.
Stiegelmeier backed the county’s decision to partner with the town of Breckenridge renovating the old CMC building on Harris Street to house the south branch of the Summit County libraries, calling it an opportunity to save taxpayer dollars and protect a historic icon.
The project has elicited criticism from some corners of the community.
Mastin opposed the decision, saying the capital projects should be put on hold while the county is struggling to balance a budget that continues to take hits on the property and sales tax fronts.
He also advocates a more proactive approach to financial problems like the landfill than the current board of county commissioners has taken.
“If you just concentrate on the issues we have already, you can address a lot of money,” he said. “They need to get on top of those issues instead of just letting them linger.”
The county is facing another 5 percent property tax revenue reduction in the next two years, following an 18 percent budget hit starting this year. County sales tax collections have also fallen short of expectations this year.