As the county prepares to go forward without the traditional Crawford County Fair, it is apparent that there is a growing division between the fair board and the board of commissioners.
The fair board was advised in April that commissioners planned to appoint Meadville Mayor LeRoy Stearns to fill a vacancy created when Diana Perry resigned. Stearns had previously been interviewed for the position when the fair board nominated — and commissioners appointed — Ryan Smith.
This time, commissioners indicated they would reject the nomination of Lisa Dunn by the fair board and announced they will appoint Stearns, citing his background with the humane society.
It is not the first time commissioners have rejected a nomination from the fair board. In the 1980s, the commissioners rejected several nominations and appointed their own selections. As you may recall at that time there were 12 fair board members. Research was done and it was determined there were only to be nine members, so commissioners then removed — if I recall correctly — one or two of the most recent members (based on the region they served), but Sherman Allen remained on the board.
It was a very controversial decision at the time. Another controversial decision in recent years was when the fair board changed its bylaws to say no department chairman could serve as a fair board member. Boots Dunn was head of the harness racing department, but his title was listed as "coordinator" instead of department chairman, allowing him to remain on the board. At the time, Allen was swine department chairman and he had to choose which position to keep. He chose the director's position. However, when his time for re-appointment came up, the board nominated — and commissioners — appointed another person.
Now Lisa Dunn is coordinator of the harness racing.
It's always an interesting issue when appointments for any board are made — be it at the local or county or state level.
It's apparent to some that commissioners want more oversight in the fair board's operations.
At the same time, the board and commissioners are discussing property issues and from what I've been told some other issues regarding use of the fairgrounds.
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While contingency plans are being discussed for some type of a fair within the pandemic guidelines, some non-profits have already found a solution to raise some of the needed funds to operate.
Following the lead of some restaurants, who offered "drive-thru" food, several fire departments have operated festivities advertising "fair food" at their departments and have apparently been very successful. Other for-profit vendors are using other sites to offer food usually only available at the fair.
One local church offers their grounds free of charge on a weekly basis.
The fair has long been a tradition for local vendors — profit and non-profit — to make some much-needed money and offer fair goers their special food.
Contingency plans being proposed as I understand them are to allow vendors to have their "booths" at the fair and offer "drive-thru" services to fair goers. The key now is to come up with approval by commissioners to hold such an event at the fairgrounds.
As you may recall, the fair board uses the grounds for the eight days in August at no cost, but commissioners pay the liability insurance and the county owns the property. At the same time, the fair board has invested more than $1 million over the years in improvements to the grounds, which benefit others using the fairgrounds.
In the past some people have called for the fairgrounds to be sold and the county get out of it altogether. The county budgets money for the upkeep of the fairgrounds in its operational budget. At one point, it was slightly more than $200,000.
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At the state level in politics, barring unforeseen circumstances, the new state auditor general in November will be either a man or woman "of color."
Nina Ahmed, a former deputy mayor of Philadelphia, has apparently won the Democratic nomination for state auditor general in the November election. I say "apparently" because the election results are not yet final, but she has been declared the winner.
Ahmed is a woman of color with her heritage from Bangladseh; and Timoth DeFoor, an African American; is the Republican nominee.
DeFoor was unopposed for the GOP nomination.
Ahmed beat out five other candidates — three women and two men — for her party's nomination.
She is no stranger to politics as she previously ran for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, losing to John Fetterman.
Reports are she had planned to run for Congress, but redistricting eliminated her from that district so she instead went for lieutenant governor.
It's apparent she wants to serve as she then entered the race for auditor general.
An interesting speculation for the future is whether she could join Fetterman for a run for governor and lieutenant governor in the future as speculation is Fetterman could run for governor. Or, would it be an Ahmed-Fetterman ticket? All of this, of course, is political speculation, based on past history of political candidates.
Many politicians, after they serve one position at the state level, will run for a higher office. To me, it shows a dedication to their love of service.
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In the meantime, efforts are being made to impeach Gov. Tom Wolf for his actions regarding the COVID-19 virus pandemic. That should be interesting to watch.
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Council members at the local level show the dedication of many people to their community. I'm speaking particularly of Linesville where several council members volunteer their services in addition to serving on council. They include Kevin McGrath, Michael Chance, Mike Heaney and Mayor David Hoogstad, all of whom are involved in the local fire department.
None of them tout their devotion, just have spoken about it during routine business discussions. I'm sure many other local councils have the same dedication. To me, it shows a deep dedication to their hometown.
At a recent Linesville meeting, one councilman was looking for his "name," referring to the name plate, to see where he was supposed to sit that night. (Linesville has no assigned seats.) Others jokingly asked him if he didn't know his name. He laughed and said he did know that.
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In addition to president, other races expected to be hot this year is for state and federal offices as both parties look to get or keep the majority.
One local race is the 6th District State House seat in which incumbent Brad Roae is being challenged by Matt Ferrence.
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Another interesting speculation is whether the manner in which statewide judges are elected should be changed to have them elected by regions. That has been discussed for many years and no action taken. It would take a constitutional amendment.
At one point, the ballot included the home county of the statewide judges so people could see where the candidate lived. it then gave people the opportunity to elect judges from different regions of the state. The other option would be to have judges appointed instead of elected.
That too has been suggested in the past and gone nowhere.
To many, the voters don't realize the importance of the judges — until something major happens.
Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.