Puckett brings honesty, transparency, and leadership to the table
By Derrick C. Parker
Scioto Voice Writer
Trampas Puckett is running for Scioto County Commissioner against incumbent Bryan Davis this November. Puckett is running on a set of simple principles: honesty and transparency in government, strong leadership, and a progressive vision for the future.
“I want to run for Commissioner because I see a lot of room for growth and development in this county,” said Puckett. “I already see some of that development downtown. And the people here are ready for it. For too long, we have been stagnant.”
Puckett has been a business representative for the Carpenter’s Union for 9 years.
“I have kids who live here. And my job allows me to spend a lot of time visiting high schools and trade schools and talking to kids about opportunities and careers. The big thing I hear from all our kids is that they plan to move away because there’s nothing here for them after graduation. And look at Shawnee State University- their enrollment is dipping. People want out of Scioto County because of the lack of jobs. I want to change that. I want my kids to have a real opportunity here. But I’m not just running for my kids, I’m running for everyone’s kids.”
“The fact of the matter is that opportunities I had when I was young aren’t the same we have today. We have to change that.”
Puckett graduated from Portsmouth West High School in 1993. He has been a member of the carpenter’s union for over 20 years, and is also a member of the Educational Service Center (ESC) Board, Workforce Investment Board, and the President of Community Action.
“I’m not just a union guy,” laughed Puckett. “That’s far from the truth. I’ve sat on the Community Action Board and been the president the last 3 years. I know how to work with people in this county. And I can see what it’s like to live in poverty. I know what people here need. And that’s not to be mistaken: I’m proud to be a union guy. But I’m much more than that. I want to work hard to earn the votes of union members as well as each and everyone one of Scioto County’s citizens.”
Puckett has three major projects he wants to tackle as soon as he gets elected: construction of a new industrial park, a common sense approach to the opiate crisis, and ensuring high speed internet county-wide.
“Sometimes I scratch my head,” said Puckett. “Why haven’t we started to develop property in Lucasville, Minford, and Wheelersburg? The bypass is almost here. Why is there no major industrial park? I think Scioto County needs to have a full blown industrial park constructed with plenty of room for future expansion. We should have been constructing this 3-4 years ago when the bypass was getting started!”
An industrial park, and the creation of more jobs, is in itself a part of the solution to the county’s opiate epidemic according to Puckett.
“I know people that struggle with addiction,” said Puckett. “And they each tell me that going through recovery is not just a 5, 6, or 12 month process. It’s a lifetime process. They tell me the biggest problem is relapsing. And that happens because they are sitting at home with nothing to do and no job. They revert back to their old ways. My thought is this: Let’s bring in good jobs. Let people earn a good living and support their family. That makes people all the less likely to relapse, and all the less likely to become addicted to drugs in the first place.”
“Additionally, we need to get new treatment facilities put in place. We need to stop filling our jails with drug offenders and give these people a bit of hope.”
Much of Scioto County’s rural areas have little or no access to broadband internet services. Puckett hopes to fix that.
“I want to pursue grants to catch the rural parts of the county up to speed. Frontier has put in a lot of fiber optics in Adams County with grant funds. I want to catch up Scioto County in the same way. Schools in much of the state use E-Books. If you live in Burg, or Portsmouth, you have access to high speed internet. You can do things and your kids have an advantage. But in rural areas you don’t have that. I want to work to get all of the people in Scioto County up to speed and into the 21stcentury.”
“Broadband internet can also attract new businesses. It may not be manufacturing, but a gas station or convenience store still prefers locations with high speed connections.”
Puckett says the differences between himself and current County Commissioner Bryan Davis are plain to see.
“I’ll just say the job Mr. Davis has done so far leaves a lot to be desired,” said Puckett. “There are many things I would have done differently. I plan on having a lot more transparency when I’m commissioner. I plan to have a lot more involvement from the people in the community to help figure out what’s best. I promise I will not just cater and listen to a certain group of people…or a silent partner.”
Puckett says the controversy surrounding Davis, the dismantlement of SOPA, and a project at the Minford airport involving his Sole Choice business partner Nelson K. Smith, is a prime example of a lack of transparency and partisanship in the County Commissioner’s Office.
“Let me explain what this is all about,” said Puckett. “There was a project out towards Minford Airport. A manufacturing company had been set up at the Scioto County Career Technical Center and was looking to expand into a bigger facility. In doing that, they took on financial partners to help fund the project. One of these partners was Mr. Davis’s own business partner at Sole Choice, Nelson K. Smith. When former SOPA Executive Director Jason Kester did his due diligence and got all the paper work done, he found out about Smith. Because of that, the SOPA board halted the project, citing potential legality issues and a conflict of interest.”
“Soon thereafter, Davis and the commissioners dismantled SOPA. Davis was upset they wouldn’t approve this project that would benefit his business partner.
Puckett says SOPA had done many good things around the county. And it was a disgrace that it was dismantled and re-assembled in a partisan manner.
“We all know SOPA did great things. Kester helped to create and save a lot of jobs in our area. They helped a lot of businesses downtown. Our SOPA board was actually recognized as on of the best port authorities in Ohio. The way I gather it, Davis told SOPA Chairman Bud Sayre to fire Kester. He refused because Kester had done such a good job. So the Commissioners then withdrew funding to SOPA. And once you take money from anything that ends it. Not long after Kester resigned and the members of the board stepped down.”
“You simply don’t do things like this. These people were working hard to bring good things to our county.”
Puckett says when he’s elected, he wants to return SOPA to a non-partisan board.
“Right now it’s purely partisan. It’s purely Republican. And my goal, even though we may never get the same board members back, is to form a non-partisan SOPA Board. I’m running as a Democrat, but I’ve said all along, party lines shouldn’t matter. What matters is if you’re willing to do work for this county regardless of politics. I’d love to help get our port authority back on track.”
Puckett also wants to change County Commissioner meetings from morning to evening sessions so that more of the public may attend.
“These meetings need to take place in the evening. Not just in the morning because there is no public interaction. I don’t care if we have to have the meetings in the hallway, we need a bigger space so people can attend. We need more involvement because the people in this county have great ideas. They are who elect us and they are who we work for.”
Puckett also questioned the Splash Park project, located in West Portsmouth.
“Wheelersburg was on track to get a $90,000 grant to build a playground at their soccer fields,” said Puckett. “Right before that happened, the commissioners switched the recipient of that grant from Wheelersburg to the Splash Park on the West Side. They took money from one park and gave it to another, and even though I’m from West Portsmouth, it’s hard to agree with taking money from one community to give to another.”
Puckett says he hopes residents will cast their votes from him in November. He says that progress is coming with the Veteran’s Memorial Highway, along with growth, development, and if he can help it- jobs.
“Lucasville, Minford, and Wheelersburg are set to prosper. And originally, I thought the bypass was going to hurt Portsmouth but I think the city is in the midst of a transition. I think it’ll be fine…Going forward we need more jobs and more businesses in this county. And that doesn’t always mean a factory. Being a carpenter- yes I want to see people building things. But more importantly, I want to see people working!”
“I want the resident’s votes because I’m honest. I tell the truth, even if it’s not want you want to hear. I have leadership skills. And I’m a resident who cares: I graduated here and my family lives here. What I want is a county government that is transparent, works together, and helps to bring progress. It’s time for a positive change in Scioto County. I’m just blessed for this opportunity…Yes, I’m a union guy. But I’m for anyone who works for a living.”
“And I have no secret partners.”