SALEM, Ohio — Both members of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission who were replaced just prior to the commission’s July 19 meeting said, if given the chance, they would have voted against Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s executive order on western Lake Erie basin farmers.
Bill Tom and Dennis Corcoran, both who have farm backgrounds, were told they were not being reappointed July 13, less than a week before the commission was set to meet and entertain a vote on Gov. Kasich’s order declaring eight northwestern Ohio watersheds distressed.
Tom, who is executive vice president of livestock marketing for United Producers, said he had already received his agenda and meeting packet in the mail, and was planning on attending the meeting as an active member.
Although both members’ terms technically ended June 30, Tom said he was still eligible to vote and he believed he would continue serving on the board. He said he felt like he did a good job on the board, and was unsure why he wasn’t reappointed.
“I felt I always executed with my conscience,” Tom said. “It was never suggested to me by anybody that I had not done a good job.”
Corcoran, a cattle farmer from Ross County, said he was equally surprised.
“I was qualified for it before,” he said. “I guess maybe I still am, but they went in another direction.”
Corcoran said with the information he had so far, ”I would have been a no vote” on the governor’s order.
Neither Tom nor Corcoran suggested the governor replaced them because of the looming vote, but the timing was suspect.
The governor replaced them with Kathryn “Kate” Bartter, of Columbus; and Bethany Gibson, a veterinarian from Ashville (Pickaway County), for terms beginning July 13, 2018, and ending June 30, 2022.
The full commission ultimately voted to refer the governor’s order to a subcommittee, so more information could be gathered. Both of the new appointees were the only two to vote against postponing the vote.
One of the committee members, Bartter, introduced a motion to have the subcommittee report back within a two-month period, but her motion died for lack of a second.
She argued the commission was being asked to vote only on “a question of science,” with the initial action, and that stakeholders would be brought in for comment as rules are made.
The governor’s office did not return messages left by Farm and Dairy seeking comment on the new appointees and the process for appointing members to the commission.
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