CLARION – The four candidates for Clarion County commissioner, including all three incumbents and a newcomer to politics, spoke at a candidates forum last week in Clarion.
Incumbent Democrat Ed Heasley and Republican incumbents Ted Tharan and Wayne Brosius were joined by Republican Kirke Wise as they addressed the audience at the Ramada Inn. They spoke according to their ballot position.
Heasley, who will be the lone Democrat on the April 21 primary ballot, said “Things are looking good in Clarion County. I am pleased with what we have accomplished.”
Heasley served as a Farmington Township supervisor for 12 years, a township auditor for six years, and as a member of the Clarion County Association of Township Officials. For almost 30 years he was employed as an audit supervisor in the state’s Department of the Auditor General Bureau.
“To me being financially responsible is the top job of the commissioners,” Heasley said. “Spending taxpayer dollars wisely while maintaining county buildings is what taxpayers expect and are entitled too.
“Since taking office in 2016, the county’s general fund year-end balance has increased by approximately $3.2 million, in part, as a result of administrative teamwork and numerous cost-cutting measures undertaken,” Heasley said.
The candidate also said “the commissioners are entrusted with the advocacy and stewardship of the county’s operations. I pledge to continue to work together in the spirit of harmony, respect, and cooperation to be fiscally responsible and properly manage county government, operations and properties,” he said.
Meanwhile, voters will elect two of the three Republicans on the primary ballot to move on to the November general election.
Wise, a Clarion County native, said he has “no problem with the way the county is going now,” but he added “I would like to bring a new element to the county.”
Wise has more than 35 years of experience in the electronics and technology sectors. He has been a primary communications system technician for Mobile Communications Service for the past 29 years.
He said his background in that industry would make him a good liaison for the county.
“The world is rapidly advancing and there is a great need to stay up to date,” he said.
Wise said that if a Silicon Valley-based company were to come to Clarion County he could speak with the company about that technology.
“That’s why we have to work on our image to the outside world as well as the day-to-day drudgery of merely local government,” said Wise. “We all need to work toward the goal of making this a place that people want to come to rather than leave from.”
Tharan said that “four years ago the taxpayers of Clarion County wanted change. They wanted to get away from wasteful spending. I ran last time by saying that the county should be run the way you run your business. You don’t waste money. You save money for a rainy day. You take care of the taxpayers’ money. The team the taxpayers assembled four years ago has done that job.”
Tharan said the county currently has $2.5 to $3 million dollars more in the fund balance than there was four years ago.
“Being a commissioner you have to be a guardian of history but you must also be an innovator for the future,” he said.
Tharan said the board has done renovations at the Clarion County Courthouse and will be doing additional work there. He said work to preserve the East Brady tunnel will begin soon.
Tharan said the county is moving into the future with a new website.
“We are partnering with Clarion University to create a new phone app so travelers on I-80 can use their phone to find out what Clarion has to offer,” he said.
“There is an old saying, waste not, want not,” said Tharan. “That is how we run the government. There is another old saying, dance with the guy who brought you. Please keep the team you assembled four years together to keep Clarion County moving forward,” Tharan said.
Wayne Brosius is seeking his third term as a commissioner.
He is a graduate of Keystone High School and Clarion University and was an original member of the Strattanville Community Watch. He is a member of the Strattanville homecoming and active in his church.
Brosius also works for Clarion County Broadcasting, where he has been employed for 32 years.
“I have been county commissioner for eight years serving on many, many boards. The state of the county right now is good,” Brosius said. “We have done well. We have come in under budget. We have not raised taxes and we have raised our balance in the general fund. We are in the best shape that I have seen since I have been there.”
The Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry, Clarion County Economic Development Corp. and Clarion County Human Services Council sponsored the event.