The Republican victor says the current commissioner board erred in giving back property tax revenue.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Voters will have a choice of two Columbiana County officials in this fall's commissioner race.
County Recorder Gary Williams will meet incumbent Commissioner Dave Cranmer in the contest.
Williams handily won the Republican primary Tuesday, besting three opponents.
He collected nearly 48 percent of the vote in the four-way race.
His closest competitor was Wayne Wallace, a political newcomer, who earned nearly 23 percent.
Among the other Republican challengers, Greg Rayburn received nearly 21 percent of the vote, and Don Vos, leader of a countywide militia group, received about 8 percent.
"I'm very humbled by that," Williams said of his strong showing in the race.
Williams, 58, whose term as recorder doesn't expire until 2004, said he believes fiscal responsibility will be a key issue in the primary election.
"The voters have spoken," he said, referring to the defeat Tuesday of the proposed 0.5-percent sales tax increase.
Commissioners must find better solutions for handling the county budget with inadequate revenue, he said.
Williams criticized the decision commissioners made in 2000 to give back 2 mills of property tax if voters would adopt a 1 percent sales tax that appeared on the November 2000 ballot.
Voters approved the measure and commissioners kept their word. But the giveback is costing the county about $2.5 million annually in revenue.
"I think it was a mistake," Williams said of the deal.
Commissioners could scrap the giveback, but Williams wouldn't say if he favors doing so.
He said he intends in coming months to develop a plan aimed at getting the county back on its feet financially.
Cranmer, 57, is seeking his second term. He was unavailable for comment after the election.
He earned nearly 60 percent of the vote against his sole opponent, Dale Landsberger, a political newcomer from East Palestine.