The Athens NEWS supports the re-election of Lenny Eliason to the Athens County Commission seat that he’s held since 1998. Eliason is a steady and knowledgeable presence at the commissioners’ table, and there’s no good reason to replace him.

Running against Democrat Eliason is Bill Hayes, who’s an independent with a libertarian streak. In public appearances, Hayes comes off as a smart and sincere candidate who wants the best for Athens County. We think he’d make a good county commissioner, but at this point, Eliason already checks off that box.

Some critics of Eliason have said that 20 years is too long for anyone to serve as a county commissioner, and that the position should be restricted by term limits. We disagree with the perverse notion that experience is a disqualifying characteristic in an elected public official. In his several terms in office, Eliason has developed relationships with residents throughout the county, and a close familiarity with the issues that affect them. It would be foolish to throw all that away just for the sake of change.

As far as issues are concerned, we support Eliason’s approach to recreation (helping to bring about bike-path expansion and more public green space, for example); the environment (guiding the implementation of a much-needed central sewer expansion southwest of Athens and working with OU to start its impressive composting program); and the county budget (managing to work with a balanced budget during difficult times, without having to cut services).

When discussing these and other issues, we haven’t noticed a big gap in the ideas espoused by Eliason and his opponent, Bill Hayes. In a candidates forum on Oct. 2 in Athens, the two candidates seem to agree on most of the issues they discussed.

We do appreciate Hayes taking on Eliason in this election; as we stated above, he could make an effective leader for the county, and nobody wants to see an incumbent go unopposed in a general election.

But for us, it comes down to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Re-elect Lenny Eliason for Athens County Commissioner. 

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