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Letter: Former County Exec puts weight behind Lukas

To the Editor-

Tomorrow is the partisan primary, and I’m writing to support Mike Lukas for Portage County Sheriff.

I worked with Mike for four years when I was Portage County Executive, and during that time we experienced and accomplished a lot. We didn’t do it alone, though. The county has an enviable group of department heads who are committed to their work and dedicated staff who—through thick and thin—make sure that county programs and services are delivered. They will always have my respect.

Recognizing the talent, expertise, and experience in your organization is a key part of being a successful leader. In my experience, Mike does this well and within a hierarchical organization that reminds me a lot of military service. That hierarchy can feel like micromanagement at times and there can also be a sense of frustration with one’s place within the hierarchy, but it’s a proven system that reinforces the structured and well-trained response you need in times of crisis.

Leadership also means making tough decisions that people don’t always have all the context to. Decisions that keep the focus on putting the organization in the best possible position—legally and otherwise—may not always be what an individual or group wants to see, but public servants aren’t charged with serving their own interests.

Leadership also means knowing when to step in more directly and when to delegate. When the Sheriff’s Office led a countywide project to replace the systems at the heart of their communications center (i.e., dispatch), Mike directed the Captain of Operations and the Chief Deputy to manage the project. They coordinated a successful, complex implementation and ran one of the more successful requests for proposal that I saw in my time at the county, especially given the number of outside agencies who were involved and who needed to connect to the new system. No small feat.

Mike and I also worked closely with both the Finance Director and Human Resources Director to get things done. Of the many things we accomplished, one that stands out to me was passing a safety package that allowed the Sheriff’s Office to reconfigure its staffing and provide dedicated security at county committee meetings as well as highway work zones.

I appreciated how Mike and I were able to work in a way that avoided the backchannel politicking you see in places where people haven’t put in the time to forge the kinds of relationships that can weather the inevitable storm. An important point given how reluctant people can sometimes be when it comes to communicating and engaging objective information that may conflict with their opinion.

While candidates for constitutional offices are required to pick a party, our community is going to be best served by those who are less concerned with passing a party’s purity test and more focused on listening to and engaging with people across the political spectrum. This is the point of public service and serving one’s community, and it’s increasingly difficult to find those candidates.

So, join me and vote for Sheriff Lukas. He has broad support from the voting public, he is interested in working with anyone who wants to work with him regardless of party, he has demonstrated that he has the knowledge and wherewithal to perform at a high level, and he is best positioned to carry our county through what is sure to be more complicated times than any of us want them to be.

Chris Holman
Portage County Executive, 2018-2022