Election Q&A county council: Steve Ritter

What about your background and experience qualifies you to serve on the Jackson County Council?

I have extensive experience with budgets at the school, where I have been for 15 years. I worked for a major construction company, Rogers Group, before I retired and came here and dealt with budgets.

What is the role of the council and its members?

They are the guard dog and the purse strings of the county. It’s their responsibility to make sure everybody has enough money but that we don’t overspend.

What is the top issue facing our county, and how would you address it?

We’re in pretty good shape, actually, I think. Public safety is a big issue. Of course, the jail is a big issue. We would have to do what’s needed to keep us solid.

What steps should the council take to keep the budget balanced and not have to dip into savings?

When all of the other entities present their budgets to us, just make sure that they are fair and honest and there’s no pork-barreling.

What are the biggest financial challenges facing the county, and how would you address them?

The state legislature decreasing taxes. Mandates from the state that are not funded, that’s a big one.

Jail overcrowding is an increasing concern. How can the problem be solved? Do you support a jail expansion?

Only if it will cash flow, that would be the only way I support it. If we’re losing money now, we wouldn’t want to build onto the building and expand. If it’s breaking even or making money, then yes, because we’ve got the juvenile center. If juvenile transports were in fact our cash cow, then I would be in favor of reinstating that program.

Is open government important? Why or why not? How will you ensure that the council is open and honest with the public?

That is extremely important to me. I was on the Brownstown Central school board for eight years. I have to attend all of the school board meetings as part of my position as an administrator. If I sit on the council, the public would be ensured I would be open, honest and transparent.

Ritter file

Name: Steve Ritter

Age: 64

Party: Democrat

Residence: Norman

Occupation: Director of facilities for North Lawrence Community Schools in Bedford

Political experience: Owen Township Advisory Board member