GALLIPOLIS — Independent candidate Mark Danner said he believes a county commissioner’s ultimate job is being able to facilitate the needs of the public and county agencies to better make local government work for its voters.
Danner is running against incumbent Gallia County Commissioner David Smith for a spot on the county board of commissioners. Danner is running as an independent candidate.
Danner was born in Gallipolis and graduated from Southwestern High School in 1986 and the University of Rio Grande in 1991 with a major in history and minor in English. He shares his son Bo with his wife, Amy.
Danner said he started working for the county park district since at 18 and has worked with the county 29 years. He originally started by performing grounds maintenance while in school and eventually was hired on as the recreational coordinator.
The county commissioner candidate said the parks district in the Gallia County Courthouse is responsible for all of the parks throughout the county that are not considered within municipal limits. The district overseas the hike and bike trail which runs from Vinton County through Gallipolis and back toward Kanauga. The parks district is roughly responsible for about 26 miles of bike trail and about 700 acres of land with the Raccoon Creek County Park, as well as other county park lands. The Evans Waterfowl and Bird Sanctuary is also counted among the lands for which the park district is responsible.
Danner has been responsible for promoting community activities such as soccer, volleyball, and scheduling and maintaining activities in the park. Danner said the park district is “all about” promoting outdoor activity and healthy living.
Danner said he had long considered a run for office and wanting to make a difference in Gallia County’s government. His wife, he said, finally encouraged him to run. Ultimately, he felt it was “time to do something new.”
With strong feelings about the drug epidemic in Gallia County, Danner said he has spoken with both Gallia Sheriff Joe Browning and sheriff candidate Matt Champlin about the problem
“The whole purpose of government, in general, your No. 1 job is to protect the people,” said Danner. “I think we definitely need to do a better job as a county in giving our law enforcement more help. They are at a state where I feel, (the sheriff’s office) with the budget they have, they are fighting a losing battle. They need more money. You can’t just say money, but with more money can come more officers and increased patrols and more investigators.”
Danner said the county always needs more jobs, which, in turn, brings in more money to the county. To him, what business is going to want to come into the county though if it sees a high crime rate? One of Danner’s hopes is to provide law enforcement with more funding. Danner also said he felt the Gallia County EMS was being “stretched to the limit” and could also do with more assistance.
The candidate said that if he takes office he would like to see the county push manufacturing and tourism as a means of bringing jobs to the area. The Ohio River, he feels, is a chief way to do this as well as making the area friendly for hunters. Danner said a large chunk of visitors to the area enjoy partaking in outdoor sports.
Danner said that his first month in office would be spent speaking with county government agency heads to get an idea of what their needs and desires are from a personal perspective. He said he would like to “job shadow” agency heads to see what their needs and obligations consist of so he has first-hand knowledge.
While also connecting with local agencies, Danner feels it’s important to establish direct relationships with state and federal agency representatives to make Gallia County interests known.
Danner has previously served as a president on the board of the Gallia County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, as well as a coached multiple sports. He and his family attend Elizabeth Chapel Church, where he leads classes and studies as part of the congregation.
“I just love meeting people,” Danner said. “You hear so much about how there are so many communities which have gone to pot and how there just aren’t many good people anymore. Most of the people, when you knock on their door or meet them in a group, you realize most people are still good people. They really are. If nothing else, (campaigning) has improved my view of society. There are a lot more good people out there than what I was afraid (existed).”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.