The new Democratic Clark County Commissioner said he wants to remain on the job beyond the end of his predecessor’s term and keep his focus on the future.
David Herier, who was sworn in as a county commissioner March 18, said he plans to run for the seat in November 2016.
“I’m going to do my best to make you proud and hold on to this seat,” Herier told Democrats after he was appointed commissioner. “We’re going to make sure we have someone good to run for the other seat so we can try to get this commission back and get things back on track.”
Herier, 43, replaced former commissioner David Hartley, who abruptly resigned in February in the middle of this third term. Herier took part in his first commission meeting with Republican Commissioners John Detrick and Rick Lohnes Wednesday.
All three said they supported considering acquiring the Army National Guard Base at 4440 Laybourne Road and funding more than in $284,900 upgrades to the Clark County Fairgrounds.
Herier said he has wanted to be involved in government to bring about change.
“I’ve wanted to be involved in local government for quite sometime,” Herier said. “I’ve been able to, through college and as an attorney, work (with) local government on several occasions, the townships, the county and just realized it’s a place where a lot of work gets done and you can make somewhat of a difference pretty quickly.”
He said his top priorities are growing the county’s job base, emphasizing the need to bring more retail to the area and figuring out a way to make an impact on the heroin epidemic. He also said its important for officials to tout the area as a great place to live, due in part to its close proximity to larger cities such as Columbus and Dayton.
Herier said county officials have been good stewards of taxpayer dollars and would like to see that continue.
“(I want to) try to get some things done and look to the future and make Clark County better,” Herier said.
Herier said being appointed commissioner this year will likely help him when he seeks re-election. He said he plans to use the next two years to listen to voter concerns and also let them know things that are important to him.
Herier is a graduate of Shawnee High School and the University of Dayton School of Law. He is an attorney and partner in the Springfield law firm Geyer, Herier and Frizzell.
In 2012, he ran against Ross McGregor in the 79th Ohio House District race and was defeated. In 2014, he ran against Lohnes, a commission incumbent, and was also defeated.
He has no experience working in government. But Lohnes said that’s a good thing.
Lohnes said Herier’s youth was good for the board and described him as coming in “fresh” without “any baggage” or bringing “a revenge factor” to the job.
“It’s a positive to come in there without having been tremendously political in how you think and how you measure things and evaluate things,” Lohnes said. “I was that way. I had my core political beliefs, but I didn’t go in with an agenda other than trying to do the right thing.”
Detrick said Herier has been highly professional and that he’s excited to work with him.
He said having a Democrat along with two Republican commissioners on the board ensures that all feel represented compared to a board with only one party represented.
Detrick also praised Herier’s work experience and said his legal knowledge will help the board.
“He offsets (his lack of government experience) with his work experience, having been a practicing attorney,” he said.
Herier said as an attorney he’s often worked with the Department of Job and Family Services, police, the courts, zoning, the engineer’s office and other county departments.
“I think that experience does help you, sort of having touched on all these different areas and having used these services either for myself or other people. It’s also helpful when you’re reading contracts and things like that,” Herier said. “It’s also helpful when you’re in a job where you don’t agree with everyone all the time. You get used to disagreeing and shaking hands and moving on.”
Herier joins the board of commissioners after a contentious couple of years.
Detrick and Hartley clashed repeatedly in recent years over the lease and eventual sale of a former county agricultural building at 4400 Gateway Blvd. to Konecranes Region Americas. The dispute became a key topic in the November 2012 election. Their disagreements culminated in a commission meeting shouting match in 2014.
Hartley reiterated his complaints about the deal during his last commission meeting and during in an interview with the Springfield News-Sun after he resigned.
But Herier said he has no plans to look back at old disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, or previous county commission decisions.
“I’m trying to stay focused on looking forward. I’m sure there will be issues that come up, especially during the budgetary process, but that is really where I would focus my energy to tweak things towards things that I think might be more important than something else,” he said.
“Instead of literally looking backwards, I sort of want to look forward and pick and choose things that are most important right now.”
Still, he said because he is the lone Democrat on the board, he anticipates that he will not always support the same issues championed by his counterparts.
“I’m certain there will be times where because of political differences and background differences that there will be things that we disagree on. But I think part of it is trying to win people over,” Herier said.
“Even if I do disagree with them I hope that we can come to a consensus that everybody is good with and we can move forward.”