Mahoning Matters reached out to candidates running for local office with a standard list of questions aimed at helping voters make an informed decision in the 2020 election. Each campaign's response will be published in the Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana County Voter Guide as it is received and all responses are subject to minimal editing for clarity and/or length. Mahoning Matters does not endorse any candidate.
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Candidate Name: David C. Ditzler
Office Sought: Mahoning County Commissioner
Candidate's Party Affiliation: Democrat
Candidate's City of Residence: Austintown
I am a lifelong Mahoning County resident, an Austintown Fitch graduate, and hold two Business degrees from Youngstown State University. I worked in the steel Industry at Youngstown Sheet and Tube after High School and worked my way through college. After graduating YSU I worked for Thomas Steel for more than 20 years as a Sales Manager of a 50 million dollar division, and for more than 10 years with American Nickeloid as a Global Manager of sales. I have negotiated multi-million dollar contracts with Fortune 500 Companies to include Remington Arms, Federal Cartridge, Winchester, Timken Bearing and Texas Instruments, in Europe, Asia and the US. I have more than 30 years in the private sector. I have 19 years of community service serving as an Austintown Trustee while working full time, and 8 successful years as a Mahoning County Commissioner.
1. What qualities do you possess that qualify you for the job you are seeking?
With more than 30 years as an Executive in the private sector I have brought business practices to government to control costs and spending. I also have the government experience to know that all government cannot be dealt with like a business and that the needs of the residents must be met. I have served on a Board of three in the Township and the County and have the ability to create continuity and teamwork at all levels with all we serve. This is evident with the formation of the Campus of Care which we have brought the private and public sectors together to replace the services of the young, adults, and seniors that the state cut. My Township experience gave me the insight to create the Justice Fund to specify exactly what the monies are earmarked for, that permanently secured the funding source for the Sheriff. I have been able to bring all parties to the table and be inclusive with all parties to collectively create a team environment to prosper. This collaboration is why I am endorsed by Sheriff Greene, The Black Caucus, The AFL-CIO, private sector, Veterans, and more.
2. If you are elected, is there anything in particular that you hope to accomplish? And briefly, what is it and why is it important?
I am proud to have initiated new and innovative ways to fund development and infrastructure and not on the backs of the taxpayers. We have created the first Tax Increment Financing, (TIF) district, of which I preside over the TIF Board and the first Transportation Improvement District (TID) which I am a member of, in Mahoning County history. This has returned more than 8 million dollars to use for infrastructure. Last year we initiated a partnership and secured a grant with Trumbull and Ashtabula Counties coordinated by Eastgate to create a Broadband feasibility study to provide Internet service as a utility. We also have a 20 million dollar sewer expansion being done in the Poland, Beaver, Springfield Township area that will open the Western Reserve Road corridor for expansion. I am currently working on another TIF, and a TID program that would provide millions in infrastructure improvement for the County as well as hundreds of million in new business growth and thousands of new jobs.
3. What do you feel will be the top issue facing this office over the next term? How would you focus your efforts to tackle it?
First and foremost we need to continue to protect and provide for the residents throughout the COVID Pandemic and ensure our residents that we will continue to provide the services that they need and deserve. Completion of the distribution of the CARES dollars to help the residents and local businesses get through this difficult time is imperative. Continuing our strong economic push for growth in the County, and Valley. Working with Trumbull County and the Port Authority to continue our 250 million dollar annual growth in Mahoning County creating jobs and opportunities.
4. What are your plans to ensure that all of your constituents would have access to the same resources and opportunities, regardless of race or socioeconomic status? In your view, where does the system fall short?
We need to make sure that the jobs we fill are inclusive with opportunities for all races. We promote that and practice it at the Commissioners office, one-third of our Directors are African American. Being inclusive at that level opens opportunity within all levels as we look to hire. I am proud of the job our board has done to promote and practice this approach, but the job is far from done. We need to make sure this is a County wide initiative and is a focus in Labor and private sector business as well. We are working with the Board of Health and have hired consultant Junious Williams to assist Mahoning County to look for ways for every sector of the county to be made aware where we all fall short and opportunities for solutions.
5. What are you doing to disrupt the status quo of politics? If you had the power, what one change would you make right now?
I would eliminate all political parties at all levels and stop the non disclosed funding of any political candidate. I believe that 10% of the people are too far left, and 10% of the people are too far right; and the majority of us are the 80% in the middle that are not represented. I was elected as a trustee in a non-partisan election to represent my community for many years and public service has no political party, just people that we are elected to serve.
6. Are you satisfied with Ohio's response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, why? If not, what do you think should be done instead? Can more be done at the local level? The federal level?
I have had the privilege and responsibility to be on the Covid task force for Mahoning County for the past year. I have been on the 7 Metro County biweekly calls with Governor Dewine and think he and the State have done an amazing job from the state level dealing with the lack of Federal support. The problems that we have faced have come from a lack of an organized plan at the federal level and forced the states to scramble for themselves. The state leadership did the best job possible and our local leadership team Directed by the EMA, City and County Board of Health Directors have done and continue to do the best job possible with an unprecedented task. We continue to disperse the CARES dollars to assist the local businesses and residents in every way possible faced with the many constraints placed on the distribution by the federal government.
7. The state is expected to make cuts in its upcoming budget in light of the reduction in tax revenue because of the pandemic. How should the state and local government set budget priorities? How deeply should cuts be made? What should your office be doing, or is doing, to prepare?
I am proud that over the past 8 years I have championed the fiscal responsibility of the Board of Commissioners. Collectively we have created the stabilization reserve, reduced our costs, secured the highest bond rating in county history, and was the first County in Ohio to create Open Checkbook for transparency. The State Treasurer cited our conservative approach, strong budgetary responsibility and leadership of the Board of Commissioners. This approach has created a budget carryover that has enabled us to maintain all the services that the residents of Mahoning County need and deserve. I am proud to have led the implementation of the Justice Fund for Public Safety, initiated in 2014, to create a permanent funding source for the Sheriff, Prosecutor, 911, and Coroner. This eliminates the opportunity for someone newly elected to come in and look to defund the Sheriff. The health, safety and welfare of the residents has always been my first priority and my record speaks for itself.
8. What do you think is the most pressing matter that pertains to the next generation of Ohioans who may be voting for the first time?
That every vote has a trickle-down effect that ultimately has a direct impact on you. Look at the people for what they stand for and what they have accomplished and not the party affiliation or the national buzz words that are used, or what misconceptions are promoted. Do they talk about accomplishments or others, honesty and integrity first.
9. Are you frustrated by the political sniping, exaggeration and even lies between the parties and their supporters that has diminished respect and reasoned compromise? If so, what will you personally do to make the situation better?
Yes absolutely, for the 8 years I've had the privilege to serve the residents of Mahoning County I've run on my record of accomplishments and have respected my opponents. Local races have never turned to national tactics until this election season. Career lobbyists have destroyed the Congress in Washington and have created a divisive unworkable atmosphere with no compromise, and look to do the same locally. The lack of understanding or knowledge of the ORC or responsibility of the positions sought need to become a prerequisite. I will continue to promote our Boards many accomplishments that have served so many, and the great plans for the future we have in the works. I will continue to lead by example how important it is to create teamwork and be able to successfully work on a board of three.
10. Who is your hero, and why?
My Dad Charles H Ditzler. My Father passed away 30 years ago he would have been 100 years old had he still been alive. My Father taught me what it was like to serve your community. He was the first President of the Austintown Community Council, later to become the Austintown Growth Foundation. In 1976 I stood with him and the Austintown Firemen collecting money in a boot on Mahoning Avenue to help support the Bicentennial in Austintown. I worked with him helping to restore the Austin Log Cabin to preserve our heritage. I watched him run and loose in his bid to become an Austintown Trustee in the early 70's. I saw him help neighbors whose house had flooded from poor infrastructure and no proposed improvements. Until one day just 2 years after he passed my Moms house flooded, and I attended my first Trustees meeting to discuss the same areas flooding that had flooded 20 years earlier. I was challenged to run for office and fix the problems myself, so that's what I did. I served my local community of Austintown part time and created the solution of my Fathers vision. I wish he could have been there to be part of it, but his love for people to help and serve has become my passion.