ELYRIA — A day after winning a third four-year term, Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo, a Democrat, seemed to be gearing up for a battle with fellow Commissioner Tom Williams, a Republican.
“I look forward to the next two years,” Kalo said during Wednesday’s commissioners’ meeting.
“I guess I look forward to the next six years,” replied Williams, who will stand for re-election in 2014.
Kalo stopped short of saying that he would actively work against Williams in two years, but the implication was clearly there.
“I think it’s going to be a very pointed two years for Tom,” Kalo said after the meeting. “(Commissioner Lori Kokoski) and I have been given a pretty good mandate that residents were happy with the way we’re running the county.”
Kokoski, also a Democrat, also won re-election Tuesday.
Williams was elected in 2010 and, as the sole Republican commissioner, has clashed with his fellow commissioners, particularly Kalo, the past two years. He also actively campaigned for Amherst City Councilman Phil Van Treuren, Kalo’s Republican opponent in Kalo’s re-election bid this year.
Kalo and Kokoski have criticized Williams for what they see as an attempt by him to politicize county government.
Kalo points to contentious meetings in recent months with residents in Amherst and Sheffield townships who were fighting a sewer rate increase by the city of Lorain and residents of the Brentwood subdivision in Carlisle Township, who want the commissioners to assist them in finding a way to clean up the drained lake in the development.
Williams brought both of those issues to the commissioners’ meetings.
“I think they started out as just a resident issue, and they turned into political grandstanding and not for the betterment of the residents,” Kalo said.
Williams, however, counters that he wasn’t trying to inject election-year politics into the issues township residents face. He said his disagreements with Kalo aren’t personal but rather a difference of opinion over what’s best for the county.
“The elections are over,” Williams said after the meeting. “I congratulated him on his victory. It’s now time to put away our differences and go on with the county’s business.’
Kalo and Williams also clashed during the meeting over whether to remove a cap on the amount of money the county will take from the fines and interest levied on homes with delinquent property taxes to fund the county’s newly created land bank. The cap required the county to pay extra money to reconfigure its computer system, Kalo said, although he doubts the land bank would ever reach the $800,000 yearly cap that was in place.
Williams has criticized the land-bank program because the money funding it would have gone to schools and other political jurisdictions in the county.
Although Williams, who sits on the land bank board, ultimately agreed to remove the cap, he said he was doing his job when he questioned Kalo about it.
“A lot of people think I’m against something when I’m just asking questions,” Williams said.
Kalo complained that even though he believes Williams opposes the land bank, the Republican still showed up Saturday to participate in the land bank’s first demolition in Elyria Township.
Kokoski said she hopes the next two years don’t end up being a war between Kalo and Williams. She said she thought the politics would disappear once Tuesday’s election results were known.
“I was glad the politics were going to be over with. I told Ted after that to just let it go,” Kokoski said. “I don’t want to play politics, I just want to do the work.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.