LISBON, Ohio (WYTV) – A heated debate between two contenders for Columbiana County auditor punctuated a Wednesday night candidates forum at David Anderson High School in Lisbon.
Brandon Kovach and incumbent Nancy Milliken squared off, with Kovach questioning Milliken’s competence and Milliken questioning the 23-year-old Kovach’s experience.
“My campaigns have always been positive,” Milliken said. “This auditor’s race is about one thing, and that’s experience.”
Kovach cited his experience with data processing as a reason for his qualification to be auditor. He also said he would obtain a state audit free of non-compliance findings in his first term–something he says Milliken has failed to do–or else not run for a second term.
“I would have loved to run in four years, possibly run with Mrs. Milliken retired, not having an opponent,” Kovach said. “But the reality is…I couldn’t afford to wait four years. I’m competent, I’m qualified, and I have the ability.”
Kovach and Milliken went back and forth over a complaint against her filed with the Ohio Elections Commission. The complaint centers around her appearance at Kent State’s Salem campus in May. Former Columbiana County Coroner’s Office employee Brian Fullum, who filed the complaint, alleged that she was essentially campaigning during the visit but failed to report money she spent on the visit.
Milliken dismissed the charges, saying they were politically motivated.
Kovach also attacked Milliken’s education, saying she lied about having a college degree. He said that she claimed for many years to have a degree from Canton Business College and started saying this year that she only attended the school.
Milliken said she never claimed to have a degree from the school, saying she only used the term “graduated.” She said that term may have been wrong, but that she felt like she reached a sufficient level of skill to claim that.
The debate between Tim Ginter and Nick Barborak, the two candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives’ fifth district, also got testy at times.
The two sparred over Ginter’s involvement in the Peacemakers Institute. Barborak said Ginter is a board member of the group and that the institute has taken the position that Medicare, Social Security and public schools should not exist.
“He serves on the board of that organization, I think that he would know what positions they are taking,” Barborak said.
Ginter did not deny that he is on the board of the Peacemakers Institute but said that he is not responsible for and does not necessarily agree with all the positions taken by the institute. Ginter denied opposing Medicare and Social Security multiple times and said he is not out to close public schools.
“To say that I believe those statements that have been made by people that I don’t even know and articles that have been posted on that site is completely ludicrous,” Ginter said.
Both Ginter and Barborak claimed to be supporters of gun rights.
Dan Bailey and Mike Halleck, two candidates for Columbiana County Commissioner, also appeared at the forum. Halleck said he has a record of judicious spending, while Bailey emphasized his desire to see more people in Columbiana County get connected to the internet and bring Google Fiber, a high-speed internet and television connection service, to the county.
Jennifer Garrison, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives’ sixth district seat, was the only participant to not have an opponent to debate. She challenged incumbent Bill Johnson’s record on veterans’ issues, saying he has not fully supported former soldiers.
·A decent crowd is on hand, with the forum about to start. Several local political figures are on hand, including former state Representative Bob Hagan and a couple of commissioners.
·Jennifer Garrison’s opponent, Bill Johnson, is not present. When told her two minutes for opening remarks are up, she said, “I’ll take Congressman Johnson’s two minutes.”
·Garrison touts her record of transparency.
·Dan Bailey: I want to bring Google Fiber to Columbiana County.
·Nancy Milliken: This race is about experience.
·Brandon Kovach is attacking Milliken´s record as auditor, saying she has never received a clean audit from the state, among other alleged errors.
·The back and forth between Milliken and Kovach is intense. Kovach is attacking Milliken´s competence, and Milliken is attacking Kovach´s lack of experience.
·Kovach is touting his experience as a data processor. Milliken: ¨Experience is the key to this. Walking in off the street with the staff, it would really be tough.¨
·Barborak says he thinks the campaign between him and Ginter has become too negative. Ginter says he supports Medicare and Social Security.
·Ginter and Barborak are wrangling over Ginter´s involvement in the Peacemaker´s Institute. Barborak says Ginter is on the board, and that the institute supports eradicating public schools and says Medicare and Social Security should never have existed. Ginter says he is not responsible for views on the group´s website.
·Halleck says you will be successful in life if you do what you say you are going to do. Also reminds those proctoring the debate that ¨The ballgame starts in about an hour,¨referring to the World Series.¨I am not entirely sure hes done everything he said hes going to do,¨Bailey says of Halleck in closing remarks.
·Milliken says Kovach is slinging too much mud with his campaign. Kovach again said he thinks he is competent, and questions Milliken´s ability to do her job.
·Ginter seems keen on driving home the idea that he is not against social security nor Medicare.