The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

Candidates speak at Van Wert event

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The local Heart Land Patriots group sponsored a Meet the Candidates Night on Tuesday evening, with a featured face-off between Van Wert County commissioner candidates Vicki Profit and Thad Lichtensteiger, a well as a presentation by Bob Kreienkamp and a representative for Todd Wolfrum, both Republicans who are challenging Bob Latta for the Fifth U.S. Congressional District nomination.

Thad Lichtensteiger
Vicki Profit

Both Profit and Lichtensteiger come from county farm families, while both have also served as school board members, Profit on the Lincolnview Local Board of Education and Lichtensteiger on the Crestview Local Board of Education.

Profit is a 1981 graduate of Lincolnview and Vantage Career Center and, after a stint as a graphic designer at Wilkinson Printing, she worked at Vantage and has been working with her husband on the family farm for a number of years.

“Van Wert County is my home and I want to see it grow and I want to see it be successful,” Profit said, noting that small communities are either growing or they are dying, and Van Wert County is a senior-dominated community where young people don’t return after graduation. “We must fight every day to make Van Wert stand out.”

Profit said the county must “come together as one relentless force promoting workforce development and continued growth; we must be reinvigorated with energy and have a plan.”

She also commended Vantage and local school districts for their career education and workforce development efforts.

One community asset that must be supported is Van Wert County Regional Airport, she said, adding that the airport is 80 years old and long overdue for an update as well, and noting the county has lost several development opportunities because of inadequate airport facilities.

She stressed that both city and county officials need to support future airport projects, which include new terminal and runway lengthening projects.

Drugs are also a very serious problem in Van Wert County as well as other communities around the country, Profit noted.

“There is no simple solution to combat this complex and ever-changing monster,” she said, adding that most county residents know someone who has been affected by the drug problem.

Profit said she had recently met with administrators at Ridgeview Behavioral Hospital, adding that she would do everything possible to help in that fight.

Profit also reiterated her support for renewable energy development in the county, noting that wind energy has been the largest economic development factor in the county, as well as provides needed dollars to the county, its schools, and local property owners.

“I have made it crystal clear that I prefer renewable energy,” she noted. “I completely understand that there are many different opinions about the entire wind industry as a whole, but it’s very difficult for me to sit back and completely ignore what these projects have done for small communities like ours.

“Opportunities like we have been presented in regards to Long Prairie Wind Farm do not come around very often,” Profit said. “We preach economic development in this county consistently, but when you look around, the one and only major contributor … for economic growth, has been renewable energy.”

She questioned why current county officials have not been more supportive of wind energy and new setback laws, and said, if elected, she would make decision necessary for the betterment of the county as a whole.

Profit said, though, that she would listen to all arguments before making a decision on any issue.

A number of wind farm opponents attended the meeting and criticized Profit for her support of wind energy, with some wind energy opponents wondering if her family’s participation in the Long Prairie Wind Farm project would be a conflict of interest problem for her as a commissioner.

Profit answered that, if she felt that was the case, she would abstain from voting on such projects. She also said she felt the county commissioners should make decisions on future wind projects, rather than going to a vote by just the residents of a proposed wind farm district — something being proposed at the Ohio General Assembly level — noting that many groups and the county as a whole benefit financially from a wind farm project, not just those within a wind farm footprint.

For instance, while Van Wert City School District would stand to benefit substantially from the proposed Long Prairie Wind Farm project, the nearly 11,000 residents of the city of Van Wert would be excluded from voting on the project because the city is not located within the wind farm area.

Several other wind energy opponents cited other negatives of wind farms, including reports of health problems and lowered property values as reasons they feel only those who are residents of a proposed wind farm should vote on whether it should be approved.

Lichtensteiger, the incumbent commissioner who is currently in his eighth year in office and a longtime farmer in the Wren area, provided some information on his antecedents, including graduating in 1979 from Crestview High School and The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture.

He is also involved in a number of community organizations, including as a trustee for the Van Wert County Foundation, on the Van Wert County Farm Bureau Council and chairman of the Van Wert County Republican Central Committee.

Lichtensteiger also talked about his support for the city-county Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation, and the efforts of its director, Stacy Adam, noting that he felt Adam “does a fabulous job for us.”

He spoke about the efforts of the Van Wert County Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank) and the consolidated Revolving Loan Fund, and blamed the Obama administration for the lack of economic development over the past few years, noting that leads are up greatly.

“Stacy is sharp, she is aggressive, and anything she can get her hands on to locate and come to Van Wert County, short of bringing nuclear waste here, anything is fair game and that’s what we’re looking for,” Lichtensteiger said, but was less than enthusiastic about wind energy, noting that while he was initially in favor of the Blue Creek Wind Farm, he has changed his mind somewhat since then, noting that friends and some constituents have changed his mind on that issue. He also said that he feels the “top real currency” in economic development is jobs.

He noted that, while wind energy brings money into the county — including approximately $300,000 annually to the county General Fund and a total of $2 million to schools and other agencies — just throwing money at the various county problems, such as the drug epidemic, won’t solve them.

Some wind energy proponents questioned, though, whether Lichtensteiger was representing all his constituents on the wind energy issue, since all county residents could benefit, but only a relatively small number of those residents would have a say on whether a wind energy project should happen if the commissioners follow proposed state legislation, if that legislation is approved.

In addition to wind energy, Lichtensteiger talked about the efforts he and his fellow commissioners have made to save approximately $700,000 the first year — and lesser amounts since — on health insurance premiums. The commissioners also pushed then-Prosecutor Charles Kennedy to get a $365,000 state finding forgiven.

Also speaking on Tuesday was Kreienkamp, who along with Wolfrum, is mounting a primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Representative Bob Latta.

Kreienkamp noted that, while a conservative, he feels Latta is doing a disservice to his constituents by doing nothing to work with Democrats to re-unite Americans on a variety of issues.

He also noted that he is not a lifelong politician, unlike Latta, and would not support any legislation that was not in the best interests of Fifth District residents.

Wolfrum’s wife, Angela, spoke briefly on his behalf, noting that he feels too many current Congressional Republicans, including Latta, have lost touch with their conservative roots, and noting her husband would work hard to bring federal spending back to reasonable limits.

Others who spoke briefly included local and district Republican Central Committee candidates.

POSTED: 04/11/18 at 8:27 am. FILED UNDER: News