Public Health Preoccupies County Commission Candidates

By Olivia Lewis

A single Butler County commissioner’s seat is on the Nov. 6 ballot. Democrat Dora Bronston wants it. Incumbent Cindy Carpenter, a Republican who is the board’s current president, wants to keep it for a fourth term.

Carpenter beat West Chester Township Trustee Lee Wong in the May primary. The two other commissioners, Donald Dixon and T.C. Rogers, are not up for re-election this year.

Bronston, a former vice mayor of Middletown, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Job growth remains a key issue in local elections.

Of the 13 largest counties in Ohio, Butler is the fastest-growing and has the highest percentage increase in weekly wages, according to U.S. Department of Labor.

Butler’s population was estimated at 380,600 in 2017, and its largest industries remain manufacturing, health care and social assistance, and retail trade.

Bronston believes tax incentives would attract more diverse companies.

“For us to increase our taxes and revenues, then we have to have more families here and that means we need jobs,” she told the Journal-News in early October. “And I see that as our major concern for the county.”

Carpenter argued in the same article that creating jobs is an area where the county is “doing extraordinarily well” and that it’s a problem with workers’ lack of skills, not jobs.

Cindy Carpenter

An Oxford native, Carpenter was first elected a commissioner in 2010. Thus far, she’s never been beaten in a countywide election. She’s won four as the county’s clerk of courts and three as a commissioner.

Some of her primary initiatives involve reforming child welfare programs, combating drug addiction and reducing the overall cost of operations in the county. She is a member of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board and the Family and Children First Council, as well as the Housing and Homeless Coalition.

In regards to drug addiction in the county, and what issues the commissioners target, she told the Journal News, “We’re still looking at generational poverty. The drug crisis hits us when people come through the jail, when it comes into the court, when it goes into juvenile court and children’s services.”

Dora Bronston

Former vice mayor Bronston is a lifelong Middletown resident who’s served on Middletown’s City Council and has been president of Middletown’s NAACP unit since 2008.

She’s also a member of Moms Demand Action and the Butler Warren Re-entry Coalition, which helps citizens recovering from substance abuse disorders re-adjust to society. On her campaign website, she states that the opioid problem is a “result, in part, by a saturation of prescriptions.”

She says her plan as a commissioner would be to connect local resources and reduce the impact of addiction by helping people returning from rehabilitation centers to get jobs, as well as providing them transportation and healthcare. A  lack of these things can increase chances of relapse, Bronston says.

“Though we need more detox facilities to address addiction needs, more addiction programs are in place now than were there in the past,” Bronston says on her website. “With a great number of summits held over the last three years in Middletown, strides have been made to provide resources to care for the addicted.”