Republicans will choose between two potential nominees, one of whom is already on the county board of commissioners.
Sabrina Christian-Bennett of Rootstown was one of eight people who filed for the party primary. All but Christian-Bennett and Kristen Kline Morris of Garrettsville dropped out of the primary race after Christian-Bennett was appointed in February by the county Republican party to fill the last year of Marsilio’s term.
Christian-Bennett graduated from Kent State University and she is the owner/president of Bennett Land Title Agency, LLC with location in Brimfield and Ravenna. She has four children and her husband is a Ravenna police officer.
She also serves as the president of the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, secretary/treasurer of the Portage Development Board, vice president of Coleman Professional Services, chair of site selection for Habitat for humanity of Portage County, director for Leadership Portage County, and director for the Northeast Ohio Consortium Council of Government.
Christian-Bennett said she was surprised to learn how “hands-on” commissioners are with other departments, such as signing all county contracts and signing off on legal issues concerning county-owned land.
“This is by all means a full-time job,” she said.
She said her land title experience has given her a good understanding of many issues and her colleagues, Kathleen Chandler and Maureen Frederick, have been informative.
“Maureen and Kathleen have been very, very helpful to me. Kathleen is a very detail-oriented person,” she said. She is learning from them about how the government sector works, complementing her private sector experience.
Christian-Bennett said her business experience and work on community organizations and boards was an advantage. “Coming in, I didn’t have that transition period,” she said.
She said she is used to dealing with staffing issues and, as a sole business owner, used to making unpopular decisions.
Issues and goals for Christian-Bennett include developing a capital improvement budget to take care of repairs of county buildings and replacement of county vehicles, including sheriff’s cars.
She is also looking at how to fund county road improvements in the face of flat funding from the gas tax.
Christian-Bennett is on the board of the Portage Development Board, which works to help current employers and bring new businesses to the county.
The PDB, she said, shows “the public and private sectors can work together and get a lot accomplished.”
Kline Morris was born and raised in Portage County. She and her husband, Roger Morris, have a daughter and son-in-law, two grandsons and another grandchild on the way.
Kline Morris said she’s running out of concern for the future of local children. “We need to keep Portage County a safe county for them to grow and raise their children,” she said.
She ran unsuccessfully in 2013 for a Garrettsville village council seat, finishing last out of a field of six candidates. She said she has been involved in several committees over the years.
“It is time for improvement in the county office and it is time for new ideas and new faces. I would like to see safety first. We need to put an end to crime, drugs, and many other issues,” Kline Morris said.
As to why voters should vote for her, she said, “I care about people and understand their frustration. They want to see results and I want to bring it to them. One of the best gifts Tommie Jo (Marsilio) left behind was a sign, and I so believe in it. That sign said “WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE”. I want the voters to know that all things are possible.”
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