Editor’s note: This is the first in a series profiling the four Republican candidates in the May 6 primary for the open seat on the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Jeff Duncan plans to discuss expansion prospects with existing manufacturers and take advantage of Highland County’s location and assets to attract more economic development.
Duncan, a Penn Township trustee for 20 years, said he believes an improving job market will help fight the drug problem.
A graduate of Fairfield High School in Leesburg, Duncan said he believes his experience in farming, business and government provides him with the tools to effectively serve the citizens as a county commissioner.
In an interview Tuesday, Duncan said, “We’ve got some good factories going now. I plan to meet with them to see if we can help them expand.”
Duncan said, “We have a lot going for us,” naming Southern State Community College, “good school systems,” and the county’s proximity to Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus as positive attributes.
Duncan said that improving the job market will help fight the county’s “terrible” drug problem, which he blamed in part on unemployment.
“People have extra time to get into mischief,” he said.
He said that when commissioners were forced to make budget cuts a few years ago to deal with dwindling revenues, the sheriff’s office “took a big hit.”
“They made some tough decision,” said Duncan of the commissioners, including eliminating the county’s economic development director, Dan Cowdrey, whom Duncan said was “beneficial to the county.” He said he would want to look into the possibility of restoring the position.
Duncan, 59, is a resident of Samantha. He joined his parents, Joe and Pat Duncan, in operating the family’s farm near Leesburg 40 years ago.
He serves on the board of supervisors for the county’s soil and water conservation district, is president of the ownership group at Five Points Implement Company, and is a member of the Highland County Republican Central Committee and Clinton-Highland Joint Fire District Board.
“I don’t have an agenda coming in,” Duncan said when he announced his candidacy. “I think the present commissioners have done a pretty good job of being fiscally responsible and handling some tough decisions. I just hope to continue that trend.”
Duncan said he had been interested in serving Highland County as a commissioner for some time, and at one point interviewed for a commissioner’s seat vacated in midterm. That seat was awarded to Mike Rector, but Duncan said he never lost his interest. He said some friends encouraged him to run this year and that after talking it over with his family, he has their support.
Duncan and his wife, Lydia, have been married for 34 years and have three children. They are members of the Leesburg United Methodist Church where he serves on the church leadership team.
Duncan said this week that his campaign has been getting a positive response, particularly in the agriculture community, and he is putting up signs, attending social gatherings and hitting as many doors as he can.
He said his experience as a trustee, in farming and in business will “hopefully play into” winning support.
“I get along well with people and work well with people,” said Duncan.