The race for Fairfield County commissioner pits a political veteran who cites experience as his strength against a first-time candidate for office who says she would be a full-time commissioner.

Republican commissioner candidate Jeff Fix, 53, is vice president of business development for RDP Foodservice in Hilliard.

He has served on the Pickerington City Council for 13 years, including five as president. He also is chairman of the Fairfield County Republican Party.

Democrat candidate Leah Hackleman-Good, 53, of Hocking Township near Lancaster owns Editorial Partners, a writing, editing and graphic design company, and is running for her first elective office.

Voters will chose which candidate will become commissioner during the Nov. 6 general election.

"I think experience matters," said Fix, who cited his years on city council as good preparation for serving as a county commissioner.

"It's a critical point of differentiation," he said.

Hackleman-Good said she would work as a full-time commissioner, as incumbent Republican Mike Kiger did through his four terms. She said she also would be as accessible as Kiger, who scheduled weekly breakfasts at local restaurants so people could talk to him. Kiger has been fighting health problems and is not seeking re-election.

"Fairfield County is growing by leaps and bounds in ways that necessitate people paying attention," Hackleman-Good said.

For example, she said, the commissioners should work more closely with municipalities and townships to encourage planned growth rather than suburban sprawl. She also would work on expanding broadband access.

"I don't have broadband where I live," she said. "I use dial-up. No one is going to want to come here if we don't have broadband. It's important to businesses and to getting people to want to move here."

As she campaigns door-to-door, Hackleman-Good said the concerns she hears from people most often are "drugs and then jobs." She said she would work to bring in well-paying jobs with health benefits. She also would work through the county's Opiate Task Force to enlist help from parents, grandparents, emergency room staff, treatment providers and others to fight the addiction epidemic.

Fix, who is on the task force, would take a similar approach. Besides meeting more often than on the current quarterly schedule, Fix said he would have the task force invite in the workers on the front lines of the addiction fight, including emergency doctors, firefighters, human resources managers and others.

"People like that could come up with ideas on how to best challenge this issue," he said.

Fix said he also would bring together the business and education communities, the Fairfield County Job and Family Services office and others to coordinate plans to train people in the skilled trades that local companies require.

"There is a desperate shortage of workers in the skilled trades. How can we work together to fund a training program?" Fix said.

The commissioner's job will pay $72,346 annually effective Jan. 1, 2019.

mlane@dispatch.com

@MaryBethLane1