BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)

Voters in November will choose between incumbent Republican Jerry Echemann and Democrat challenger Jack Regis Sr.

Echemann, a long-time news broadcaster, is completing his first term on the commission.

Regis was mayor or council member in Martins Ferry for a combined 45 years.

If you’ve come to expect personal attacks and name-calling in politics, you’re in for a surprise.

These two candidates wanted to talk about the issues, not each other.

They both agree the county health department and records department need new homes.

The health department is shockingly cramped.

Jack Regis says it’s like ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag.

“The health department is something that needed done ten year ago,” Regis said. “They do a great job. They work so hard. But they don’t have room to turn around.”

The records department, where one woman reportedly works alone in the huge old Oak View building, is in Regis’ view just dangerous.

“Either at the end of the third floor or down in the basement, records are piled and if she would go to move boxes or they would tip or something would happen, there’s nobody,” Regis said. “She’s by herself.”

Jerry Echemann agrees with those priorities.

He says problems arose and things take longer than you’d think.

“It takes a while,” he said. “I know the public becomes impatient. I do too. The wheels of government turn slowly. I’m not always sure why, because I’m more used to the private sector, most of my life.”

He pledges the health and records departments will be ‘the next big projects.”

Jack Regis would like to see the commission be more transparent, with less business conducted behind closed doors.

“They do all their work in work sessions and executive sessions,” Regis noted. “Then they come out, they make motions and pass them and there’s no discussion in public.”

Jerry Echemann says the best background for the commission seat is time spent in the commission seat.

“I think the thing that I can offer in the upcoming election that my opponent can’t is experience as a commissioner,” he said. “He’s been involved in government most of his life, which is fine. That’s been at the city level. I have four years of experience as a commissioner.

Jack Regis says the priority should be the people, not the party.

“I don’t think there’s a Republican or a Democrat issue in this election,” he said. “It’s what you’re going to do for the people.”

“I feel like I’ve gained the trust of the people in the courthouse,” Echemann concluded. “And I’ve hoped to have gained the trust of the people of Belmont County as well.