Putnam County commissioner races in dead heat

Mar. 15—LIMA — Putnam County residents will be voting on two county commissioner spots this year.

In one race, incumbent Michael Lammers will face Brad Brubaker and in the other, incumbent Vincent Schroeder will face Tim Wehri.

"I grew up in Putnam County and it's a great place to live," Wehri, who previously ran against Schroeder in 2020, said at a forum in Ottoville. "I just wanted to give back to the county and when I thought about what I could do using my previous knowledge on the different jobs that I've had, I thought county commissioner would be a good fit for me. I ran my own business with my brother and I've worked other jobs including handling kids as a schoolteacher and I'm president of several associations in the county."

Schroeder, who has 19 years of experience, said that his record and background speak for themselves and that he is dedicated to keeping Putnam County's standards where they are.

"I want to keep Putnam County the way it is, which is a utopia compared to a lot of areas," he said at the forum. "We had the highest percentage of voting in the last election of any county in the state and we were the first one to report. We've got things going well and I want to keep it that way."

For Brad Brubaker, after retiring from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, it was an easy decision to enter the race, especially after he flirted with running a few years prior.

"I wanted to continue with public service," he said at the forum. "I worked with all the county offices, the sheriff's office, the courts and records offices and I have experience working with several agencies at the state, county and local levels through positions with the school board and as a coordinator. That's why I think that my knowledge will be beneficial."

Lammers touted his accomplishments in seven years of service including work done to improve staffing with emergency medical services.

"We've done a lot over the last seven years," he said. "We've renovated the courthouse exterior ramp, gotten a new HVAC system in the recycling center, renovated the fairgrounds, updated the entire information technology system and phone system of the courthouse and helped first responders with advanced equipment."

All four candidates identify as conservative Republicans, however, Brubaker said that he switched to the Republican platform in 2016 and Wehri has said that he has voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past.

"I have a lot of experience handling money and dealing with budgets and I have a lot of common sense that I think is missing in some offices," Wehri said when asked what he is interested in accomplishing if elected to office. "I think that's a good combination and I'm willing to listen to people to get their thoughts and not just ram it down their throats. I want to listen to people to see what they want, as well."

Brubaker said that he is looking forward to being more proactive on things like infrastructure.

"Sometimes, I think we're reactive and we should instead work to be visible and communicate to other offices in the county," he said. "I think sometimes other county offices don't see the commissioners beyond their office and I think that's important. Also, I want to communicate with the public and be available for them."

Schroeder, who said that he believes in personal responsibility, said that he is looking forward to solving issues related to accommodations at the county's EMS office, something he has said should only be funded by state grants.

"People are upset with a tax increase and it's a good idea to do this, but the people have to more or less vote for it," he said. "And it will get weighed and we'll research it before we put it on the ballot, but what we did was bought a house and that has served well, but they want it so that 10 seconds can be eliminated on a call. I pushed for volunteers, but I think people appreciate it when they are there immediately."

Lammers said that he is looking forward to expanding the facility and manufacturing capabilities in the county.

"We have some very important things to get done," he said. "Expanding the EMS facility is critical to the safety of our kids and grandkids. And I've managed to establish a very close working relationship with the 15 villages and 15 townships and I plan on picking different projects for each community that these infrastructure programs will aid in the future."

This year's Ohio primary election will be Tuesday, March 19.

For more information, visit the Putnam County Board of Elections website

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.