St. Marys mayor seeks commission seat

By Patricia Ann Speelman -

Editor’s note: In preparation for the May 8 Republican Primary, the Sidney Daily News is profiling each candidate who is seeking a seat on the Auglaize County Board of Commissioners. Each candidate was queried on topics which affect the residents of the district. Patrick McGowan’s profile appears today. Doug Spencer’s profile will appear Thursday.

ST. MARYS — St. Marys Mayor Patrick McGowan, 71, is seeking the Republican nomination for a seat on the Auglaize County Board of Commissioners.

A St. Marys native, McGowan earned a bachelor’s degree in administration and a Master of Business Administration.

He worked in the high tech industry for 40 years before retiring from Belden Inc. in Richmond, Indiana. He serves as an adjunct faculty member of Indiana University East/Ivy Tech and Wright State University Lake Campus.

In 2010, he was elected to the St. Marys City Council. He is in his second term as mayor, having been first elected in 2012.

McGowan is a voting member of the board of the Ohio Municipal Electric Association.

1. How should school security be addressed with the rising tide of gun incidents in public schools? Does the county have a role in this?

The safety of our children is paramount, and every precaution should be taken to protect them. School resource officers should be added to each school systems because no one is exempt from the violence. It is a shared responsibility of the school district and local political subdivision to protect our children. This is something that I did as the mayor of St. Marys to protect the children. Police trained teachers and practiced shooting situations at our local schools. Also, we added a school resource officer sharing the costs to employ the officer with St. Marys City Schools.

2. How will you address the reductions in Local Government Funds from the state?

Cost reduction is a practice and a mindset. County commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to be prudent in spending taxpayer money. The state of Ohio has cut local government funds however measures to cut spending should have been implemented in 2008 and continue today. As mayor of St. Marys, I achieved cost savings in areas of city operations and challenged employees to always be on the alert to find ways to save money, to work smarter and more efficiently. As county commissioner I have two goals: 1. Cut expenditures and 2. Continuous work improvement.

3. What can lawmakers at the county level do to help combat the opioid crisis?

County commissioners can take the leading edge by being proactive to offer assistance and support to help centers. Once offenders have been referred to help centers, we must support the organizations trying to prevent further drug relapse. Our society and economy will benefit by helping those who can be drug-free. Additionally, we must be sure that each police officer is equipped with Narcan to protect themselves from accidental exposure or to administer to those who overdose. We must also join state and national lawsuits against opioid drug manufactures to recover the cost of Narcan administration.

4. What can the county do to support local businesses in attracting and retaining good employees?

County commissioners should work in concert with businesses, schools, villages, and cities to define the job skill requirements of local industries. With job skills identified, curriculum programs should be put into place in schools to train students to fill the jobs. Commissioners should remember that these programs are not limited to new students but also to people reentering the workforce or exploring a new career path. I believe County officials need to become more proactive vocally in support of these challenges. In many instances, local municipalities have taken the lead in supporting businesses but they could use the commissioners’ support.

5. What specific strengths will you bring to the board of commissioners?

The most significant strengths that I bring to county commission is my business, government, and, educational experience. I spent over 40 years working for Fortune 500 companies solving problems for my company and their customers. I had profit and loss responsibility for each business unit. I will bring a business mindset to the Auglaize County Commission. The current makeup of the Auglaize County Commissioners does not include any member with business experience. I know business, and I know how to speak to business people! Also, I have returned the city of St. Marys to financial stability and rebuilt our utilities into some of the finest in the area while maintaining competitive utility rates. I hold bachelor and master of business administration degrees.

6. What is the biggest challenge facing the county and how would you like to see it met?

• Attracting and keeping employees to fill vacant jobs is the most pressing need at Auglaize County employers. Many of the reasons for attracting and maintaining employees have been discussed when I answered previous questions.

• The second challenge is to provide housing for people who fill those vacant jobs. Auglaize County has a housing shortage, and it must be addressed. Developers are not developing land, banks are not lending money, land for development is not available, and builders are not building spec homes. As mayor of the city of St. Marys, my administration has been ahead of the county to provide housing.

• Financial management will always be a challenge because interest rates are low and the state of Ohio continues to divert local dollars so that they can balance their budget. We must do more with less.

• The opioid epidemic is a plague on our nation, and Auglaize County is not immune. As I previously mentioned we must address the epidemic by supporting help centers, providing Narcan to law enforcement, providing additional money and officers to law enforcement, and joining lawsuits against opioid drug manufactures.

• Protecting home rule from state of Ohio intrusions. The state has recently enacted several pieces legislation which takes away local authority and transfers that authority the state. We must work with state and federal legislators to curb this transfer of power.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.