Rear Sworn in as Geauga County Commissioner
New commissioner outlines four goals, including improved security at county office complex
Former Chardon Schools Board of Education member Blake Rear was sworn in Thursday as acting Geauga County Commissioner.
The Geauga County Republican Party Central Committee appointed Rear on Nov. 9 to fill the seat of Tracy Jemison, who resigned in October to take a position with Geauga Growth Partnership.
Rear, 65, of Hambden Township, is a retired business owner who has served on several boards and commissions over the years, including Auburn Career Center. He currently is vice chairman of the county GOP.
Commissioners Mary Samide and Ralph Spidalieri voted to appoint Rear as acting commissioner until the necessary paperwork arrives from Columbus, a process that could take several weeks to complete.
After the Ohio Secretary of State’s office processes the appointment paperwork, the “acting” title will be removed and Rear will be sworn in as a commissioner.
Samide administered the oath of office as Spidalieri looked on. Rear’s wife, Joyce, and several county officials were in the audience.
Rear was selected to finish out Jemison’s term, which expires Jan. 1, 2017.
To serve out the full term, Rear will have to run in and win a Republican Party primary in May, and then win the November 2014 election.
Rear’s first decision was how he wanted to make a roll call vote.
After Rear took his seat, county Administrator David Lair told him whether he said “yes,” “aye,” or “no” was up to him. In a previous board, Jemison had used “aye” while Commissioners Samide and Bill Young usually voted “yes.”
You can say ‘yes’ or ‘aye,’ but it’s usually been ‘aye’ lately,” Lair advised him. “It’s up to you.”
“Blake has been on enough boards to know, when you’re in the hot seat, it feels hot,” Samide said, jokingly.
“I’ve seen it from out there (in the audience), but it’s a different perspective from up here,” said Rear.
Shortly after his swearing in, Rear presented commissioners with four goals he said he would like to discuss in upcoming weeks.
“It’s a little awkward because we can no longer talk among ourselves except in a public meeting due to the Sunshine Law, but I would like to have a conversation about security of this entire facility at 470 Center St.,” Rear said, adding security issues had come up when he was on the Chardon school board.
He believes security needed to be examined at the county office complex and upgraded if necessary.
Rear said, because of the nature of the security issue, it probably should be discussed during an executive session so plans could be made without divulging any specifics.
“If you keep your head in the sand, you’re likely to have a real issue,” he told commissioners.
Rear also said he would like to see meetings videotaped and either broadcast on G-TV or made available on the county’s website.
“It should be unedited and shown in its entirety, including my mistakes,” the new commissioner said.
His third goal would be to hold an occasional evening meeting for the public’s convenience.
“And my fourth, which is more a personal issue, is after I’ve become established, I would like to establish fixed office hours for the public to come in by appointment, so I can hear their concerns,” Rear said, adding people would have to make appointments to avoid having to wait in the lobby with their problems festering, which he called counterproductive.
Rear later said he would begin by opening his office between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on meeting days, and expand it to accommodate people’s needs.
Samide and Spidalieri both said Rear would not need their permission to establish office hours. Former Commissioner Bill Young held regular office hours during his tenure.
Rear then made the motion to adjourn.
“I move we adjourn and go home or go to lunch or something,” he said.
After the meeting, Rear said he was a little nervous, but thought it went well.
“Security is an important issue to me, and when I was with Chardon Schools, I had a role in making sure we had a good plan in place,” he told the Maple Leaf.
“We also need to hear more comments from the people and we need to have more discussion in public sessions,” Rear said.
He added, “I don’t really have a preconceived idea, but I want to make sure the public is served.”
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