A marked man

LISBON – Salem resident Nathan Walker does not appear to think much of Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck.

In a news release announcing his intention to run for commissioner against Halleck, Walker said his “biggest strength is that I’m currently not a member of the board of commissioners, and specifically I’m not Mike Halleck.”

Walker filed candidacy petitions with the Columbiana County Board of Elections by Wednesday’s deadline to run as a Democrat for Halleck’s commissioner seat in the May 6 primary election. Also filing to run in the Democratic primary for commissioner was Dan Bailey of Salem. The winner will take on Halleck, a Republican, who is unopposed.

“I’m not anything like Mike,” Walker said. “I’m not a professional politician. I don’t hang out at the Golf Club. I’m not comfortable in a suit and tie, and I don’t make decisions based on what the Democratic and Republican Party chairs want.”

Walker is employed by the food-service/provider company, AVI Food Systems Inc., and also works at University of Mount Union.

He is concerned in general about what is going on with county government, and two recent incidents in particular: The county port authority board member who illegally retired but continued to be paid and the county EMA employee hired without the knowledge and approval of commissioners.

“Mike Halleck can point fingers wherever he wants, but in reality it is his job to know what is going on. We live in a time when people don’t accept responsibility. This race will be about accountability,” he said.

Walker said his first task if elected would be to examine the relationship between commissioners and the port authority.

“The port authority is an important job. We need to make sure the people serving on the board are the most qualified county residents possible,” he said.

The port authority is a separate county agency that operates independent of commissioners, whose only duty is to appoint the board members. The illegal retirement occurred without the knowledge or approval of commissioners, and it was commissioners who found out and alerted authorities.

“It really bothers me the commissioners don’t know what is going, and coasting along like nothing is wrong is the default setting in the commissioners’ office,” Walker said.

“I just want things to run better. I care about the community. I’m not a political guy, but I’m an Ohioan. I love my family,” he said, in his news release.

Walker, 37, attended Kent State University and Youngstown State University and is a member of the Saxon Club and Emmanuel Lutheran Church. He has two children.

Bailey did not provide a news release announcing his candidacy.