Chandler return makes commissioners all women for first time

by MIKE SEVER | RECORD-COURIER REPORTER Published:

Ravenna -- Starting Jan. 3, the Portage County commissioners will be "women only" for the first time in the county's history. On that date Kathleen Chandler will return to the county board of commissioners, joining Maureen Frederick and Tommie Jo Marsilio.

Chandler said she's excited about coming back.

"I very much enjoy public service and I feel privileged to serve," she said. Chandler said she finds the work "interesting and challenging."

Chandler said two major issues for her will be unemployment and fracking, or hydraulic fracture drilling of oil and gas wells. While the state has control of almost all fracking regulation, Chandler said county commissioners should be aware of issues with it.

"I do think we have a responsibility for the health, welfare and safety of citizens," she said. That includes commissioners finding out "what can we do and what the state is doing, about the safety of drinking water." She commended local communities like Garrettsville which are being very aggressive in protecting their water fields.

It will also mark the only the second time in more than 50 years that a Portage County commissioner has gone to the state legislature and returned to serve as a commissioner.

Claude Watters was the first. He served as county recorder in the 1930s before being elected commissioner in 1940 and serving for 16 years. He then was elected to one term in the Ohio House of Representatives. Watters was re-elected to the county commission in 1960 and served another four years. He died in 1980.

Chandler was a county commissioner, serving from 1996 to 2002 with fellow Democrats Chris Smeiles and Chuck Keiper, when she won election to the Ohio House of Representatives.

She served in the House until term limited in 2010 and then ran this year for the county commission seat being vacated by Smeiles, who did not run for re-election to a seventh term. Chandler won the election, beating Republican Larry Solak.

When Chandler joins the board on Jan. 3, she will join fellow Democrat Frederick, who has been on the board since 2003, and Republican Marsilio, who has served since 2010.

Chandler said she doesn't think it will make much difference that all three commissioners are women.

"What's important is that you have commissioners with experience, who are willing to listen and work hard for the citizens," she said.

Chandler started her public service career as a member of Kent City Council in 1980 and then served as mayor of Kent.

Email: msever@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 3155

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