(Editor’s note: This is part of a series on contested races in the May 20 primary election.)
There are two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for District 6 Justice of the Peace in the May 20 party primary election.
Since there is not a Republican candidate, the party primary winner will take a seat on the Logan County Quorum Court on Jan. 1. The incumbent, Charlie Reames, resigned his seat earlier this year after moving out of the district.
The candidates are Mark Graham, a CNC operator for Cloyes Gear and Products, Inc. in Paris, who is making his first race for public office. The other candidate is Debbie Anhalt, former Logan County Tax Collector who retired from the office in December, 2012. She served as Tax Collector from 2000 to 2012 and Deputy Collector from 1990 until 2000.
Both candidates stressed that the county is facing some tough issues, among them being finances and a decision on what to do about the Logan County Detention Center in Paris. The jail is under orders from the state to alleviate a number of problems including overcrowding. County officials are now considering what to do, including building a bi-county jail with Franklin County.
The jail situation, according to Graham, is the county’s number one priority.
"It’s a tough decision," he said. "I don’t think a bi-county jail will work but Logan County is going to have to do something. It’s the county’s number one priority. I could be for a bi-county jail if they could come up with a good way to do it."
"Something is going to have to be done," Anhalt said. "I’ve heard there’s not enough room to add onto the current jail, but I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know all the details or the options we might have."
Both Graham and Anhalt said the county needs to deal with what has been described as a chronic shortage of funds. Graham was pretty blunt when he said "the county is broke."
"We’re going to have to find some way to increase revenues. We’re going to have to find some way to get the county some help," he said.
"I think we need to find ways to run the county more efficiently to get the county in better financial shape so we can do more things for the citizens," Anhalt said.
Graham said he would look at raising the property tax millage dedicated to county operating expenses from the current 3 mills to 5 mills. Anhalt said she would not be in favor of that.
Both candidates said they’re open to ideas from the public. Anhalt said that if elected, she’s planning on setting up an e-mail account.
"I feel like I am a good communicator and everyone will have my cell phone number," she said.
"If elected, I am going to continue to talk to people and find out what they think," Graham said.
Graham and his wife of 28 years, Teresa, have a son. Anhalt has two sons.