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Jeff Maiden (right) shares his platform during the democratic candidate forum for Athens County Engineer. Maiden is running against incumbent Archie Stanley (left). (Gwen Titley | Picture Editor)

Athens County Engineer hopefuls share ideas in fiery forum

Two Democratic candidates vying for the seat as Athens County Engineer constructed defenses and demolished accusations during the first candidate forum Thursday night.

During the forum, held by Athens County League of Women Voters, incumbent Archie Stanley traded remarks with challenger Jeff Maiden about the quality of roads and bridges in Athens County and the potential performance of each candidate.

Born and raised in Nelsonville, Maiden graduated from Ohio University and worked at his father’s construction company before starting his own engineering company in Athens.

Stanley said he is running for re-election because he enjoys the job and wants to finish the goals he has set during his 32 years as Athens County Engineer.

“As we learned from our Wall-Street Governor Kasich and Senate Bill 5, change is not always good,” he said.

Coordinator Edward Baum introduced the forum as a platform for citizens to voice their concerns, not as a debate for candidates to use controversial remarks to “zing” one another.

But as the floor opened to questions from the public, the forum quickly turned into a game of hot potato as both candidates pointed out each other’s flaws and inadequacies.

“I think my opponent has run a pretty negative campaign,” Stanley said. “I don’t know what’s next, but I brought … my long-form birth certificate just in case.”

Questions from the media and county residents ranged from the fiscal budget to future fracking concerns.

Though the current condition of county roads and bridges came up often during the meeting, the two candidates’ numbers did not seem to match.

Maiden claimed Athens County is among the worst in the surrounding area when it comes to unpaved, gravel roads. He cited data from the Ohio Department of Transportation that states the county has more than 130 miles of gravel road.

Stanley stated he and his office have calculated 50 miles of roads in Athens County are unpaved, an issue he said he will address if re-elected.

Facing economic hard times and the pressure to control a tight budget, Maiden said several times how his budgeting plan and reorganization of salaries within the office will result in savings of more than $1 million over four years.

Stanley said cutting health insurance would remove benefits for employees who risk their lives daily by working with and near heavy machinery — something Stanley said he was not willing to do.

To end the forum, both candidates stressed the importance of facts and honesty when addressing the voters of Athens County.

“I was nervous and I got a little excited,” Maiden said. “But I think people need to know the truth.”

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