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Article published April 29, 2013
Close look at hopefuls
Mary Ellen Pawlowicz Connoquenessing Township
As the treasurer for Ben Holland’s campaign for county controller, I have been following the controller’s race closely — also because of the controller’s duties to monitor every incoming and outgoing tax dollar that flows through the county government. The controller must be able to discern between appropriate and wasteful spending. Thanks in large part to the efforts of retiring Controller Jack McMillin, our county’s finances are solid. We need someone like McMillin, who is not afraid to stand firm on sound fiscal policy. Butler County voters need to look carefully at both candidates seeking the Republican nomination on May 21. Karen Diehl and Ben Holland are both qualified for the job, and both have public accounting experience. Holland has added experience as an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company. He brings the added perspective of cost controls and decision making found in a large corporation. After hearing both candidates speak at a Republican Women of Butler County meeting, I was struck by the contrast of each candidate’s professed reason for seeking this office. Diehl stated she was approached by people in the party and encouraged to run. Holland said he was seeking the office to be an independent watchdog for Butler County taxpayers, especially in light of the proposal to build a new multimillion-dollar addition to the Government Center. Upon further investigation, it appears that Diehl’s close relationship with Commissioner Dale Pinkerton might cause a potential conflict of interest, regarding the county commissioners’ spending. At a time when so much debt is at stake, I have some doubts as to Diehl’s ability to remain independent, especially when it is a matter of public record that Pinkerton obtained about 50 percent of her signatures to get on the ballot. As a tax professional myself, I know the long hours required during the months of tax preparation, so I can understand why she might not have had time to obtain more signatures herself. Since she plans to continue her private practice, even if elected as controller, I question how much time she will have to devote herself to the county’s finances. Although Pinkerton has every legal right to support and obtain signatures for any candidate, when added to the fact that Pinkerton’s wife works part-time for Diehl, I question her ability to remain unbiased and act in the best interest of the taxpayers. Holland has proven his ability to remain steadfast in his conservative values, as evidenced by his record on the Butler School Board. Despite pressure from both parties, he did not vote for any tax increases. I believe Ben is the only candidate I can trust to protect my tax dollars and ensure the stability of Butler County in the future.