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New Commission President Promises Bipartisanship, Progress

Bill Rinehart
Commissioner Chris Monzel hands the gavel to newly elected Board President Todd Portune at Memorial Hall.

Hamilton County has a new Board of Commissioners. Only one of the three members is actually new, but the election of Denise Driehaus did lead to a shake-up. Driehaus is a Democrat and her victory in November gave control of the board to her party.

Commissioners met Monday afternoon at the newly renovated Memorial Hall to elect Todd Portune as president and Driehaus as vice president.

Portune says Hamilton County is facing a lot of challenges. He says the effects of the Great Recession are only now wearing off.

"They have put the county squarely in the midst of a sea of human misery of unemployment, joblessness, business closures, broken families, reduced spending power, and fewer resources, and the expected results from all of that of crime (and) epidemic growth of the use of illegal substances."

Portune said he wants to work with the lone Republican commissioner, Chris Monzel, because strength lies in diversity.

"Diversity of thought, diversity of background, diversity of experiences, which when brought together in the crucible of debate will lead us to solutions to our most vexing problems. Solutions that are born of the best that each of us have to offer, and that does so in ways that blend and work well together."

Driehaus also talked about diversity during her remarks.

"An approach that relishes our diversity in Hamilton County and acknowledges that simply tolerating one another is not enough. Embracing each other makes us stronger and better. Our desire to be more inclusive must be intentional in order that it be achievable," Driehaus said.

Portune plans to introduce several measures at the first regular session of the commission on Wednesday. He says the problems facing Hamilton County "do not allow for the luxury of timeless debate. Quite the contrary, they call for swift action."

His plan focuses on several issues and areas: the Metropolitan Sewer District, the county budget, growing the economy, and making a healthier community.

Portune also said he wants to reinstate weekly meetings with the City of Cincinnati over problems at MSD, and wants to work more with surrounding counties on transportation issues.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.