Two Jay County residents are running for the commissioner seat representing the south district for 2021.

Republican Brian McGalliard and independent Bruce Counterman are running for the seat currently held by Republican Chuck Huffman, who chose not to run for re-election.

McGalliard, 50, defeated Duane Monroe and Barbara Street in the Republican primary. He has been the owner of the Portland Pizza King, which he inherited from his father, for about 15 years. The Dunkirk resident has lived in Jay County nearly all his life, except for the time he attended Ball State University for his associate’s degree in criminal justice. Before taking over the family business, he trained racehorses and worked for Prudential Security.

Counterman, 62, filed to run as an independent following the primary process. He has been a turkey farmer for about 26 years in conjunction with Cooper Farms. Born and raised in Mendon, Ohio, the rural Ridgeville resident has lived in Jay County for more than 30 years. He’s worked for Jay County Highway Department for about 20 years, serving as the department’s road foreman for eight years. Counterman also worked for a Huffy bicycle factory for 20 years and the Coke and Hartzell Fan factories. He recently retired after eight months at Crown City Logistics.

Counterman said he decided to run against McGalliard in the general election rather than the primaries because he thought he would have a better chance going one-on-one. Counterman said he would like to see county money spent in different ways, such as doing more road conversions.

Both candidates believe it’s important to convert stone roads to hard surface. McGalliard said he sees the progress with ongoing road conversions, and he’d like the county to continue converting about 5 miles of stone roads each year. Counterman said he would like to see more, if not all, roads converted.

If that isn’t possible, though, Counterman would like to look at installing permanent dust mats on stone roads in front of homes. As a former road foreman, he said he often had questions and complaints about dirty stone roads as well as other related issues.

“I’m the one that got sent out there when somebody was screaming on the phone,” he said. “I’m the one that (got the heat), screamed at, yelled at, punched in the chest with a finger … that’s just part of the job.”

McGalliard noted he’s been meeting with county officials to learn more about each department. He decided to run for the commissioner seat because he wants to be more involved with the community.

“I put a lot of thought into this, and will continue to put a lot of thought into this,” he said. “It’s not a spur of the moment thing. If you want someone who cares about Jay County and wants to make a difference, that’s my sole reason for getting involved.”

As a commissioner, McGalliard said he would like to pursue more housing opportunities for new residents and local workers who currently commute to Jay County businesses.

When asked about the retirement center and its future, McGalliard noted that it doesn’t make money, but he doesn’t want to close the facility yet because it is a safety net for some in the community.

“If I can keep it open, I’m going to,” he said. “I’d like to reverse the trend of closings.”

Counterman said he doesn’t know enough about the retirement center, as well other issues, to make many decisions. He said he’d like to see the numbers and learn more.

“I’m sitting outside looking in,” he said. “Until you’re sitting there with the finances in front of you and examining things, it’s hard to call things. It’s hard to sit back in the bleachers and be the referee.”

McGalliard said he has been working with some engineer friends and putting together a plan for Portland flooding that involves retention ponds. It’s an issue that both the county and city need to work on together, he added.

“It’s going to have to be a joint effort to fix this problem,” he said. “It’s a lot of the county water going into those tiles going into the city …”

In relation to the current pandemic, he thinks community members shouldn’t be forced into doing things, but he does worry about COVID-19.

Counterman said he thinks it will likely die out after the election.