Meet the candidate: John Bates getting everybody to work together

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Meet the candidate: John Bates getting everybody to work together

By Jessica Johnston, Assistant News Director

A former Muskingum County Commissioner is running to get back into the courthouse.

John Bates (D-OH) was previously a Muskingum County Commissioner from 2006 until 2010. Prior to his experience as a commissioner, Bates served in the Marine Corp and was a process engineer. He was also a small business owner serving as a realtor, auctioneer and personal property appraiser, all skills he still practices.

From his time as a commissioner, Bates is proud of the extensive amount of projects that were completed or were in the works during his four years in the courthouse.

Projects that included:

  • Bringing Avon into the county, proving 500 jobs and a $26 million investment
  • A 100 acre Job Ready Site
  • Over $4.5 million in improvements to Eastpointe Business Park
  • Cleaning up the Roseville Prison property

Those just name a few of the many projects completed under Bates’ time as a commissioner.


To build on those successes, he hopes to bring more industry into Muskingum County and get people working.

“Manufacturing is really where my heart’s at, it’s just (that) there is a lot of opportunities there,” Bates, who has been married to his wife Mary for 47 years, said.

With manufacturing at the heart of what Bates plans to do for the county, he believes his previous experiences as a commissioner, and beyond, qualify him as the candidate to get the job done.

“My thing is, look, I was in management, I was in Marine Corp, I was in management and I ran plants and I was their engineer up there, so in order to bring jobs into Muskingum County you have to have that business experience to talk to people that are looking at this county,” Bates, a father of two daughters, said.

In order to get people back to work, and to bring more jobs into the county to accomplish that goal, one of Bates’ top priorities is to bring the necessary officials and entities together and working toward common goals.

“What I’d like to do is get people back working together; city, county, courthouse and our state leaders along with the congress and tell them what we need here in Muskingum County,” Bates said. “That’s what I did last time, and we got it.”

With all the right people in the county and city working together, Bates wants to tackle more than just attracting industry and bringing in jobs.

Drug epidemic

Muskingum County is experiencing a large drug problem that Bates said needs to be addressed.

“Our biggest problem with the epidemic is we don’t have enough facilities to treat these people,” Bates said. “We need to really crack down … we can’t put all these people in jail, so we’ve got to treat these people. If we don’t have enough room to treat them here, which I think we do, then we’re going to have to maybe work with some people out of town.”

While Bates said that the hospital and organizations in the community are doing a good job treating addicts and trying to fight the epidemic, he believes that more needs to be done.

Additionally, Issue 1 falls in line with the drug epidemic that is affecting Muskingum County and counties far beyond Muskingum’s borders. Bates said that there are both pros and cons to the proposed law. He doesn’t believe that every drug user needs to go to prison, although they may need treatment.

To qualify that statement, Bates also said that while users may not deserve prison times, the dealers providing the drugs do.

“A lot of kids that are 18, 19, 20 they get picked up because they’ve got something in their car or whatever … everybody is going to do experimental, they’re going to drink or whatever for (the) first time. I don’t think that those people need to have a court record for the first offense, and that’s stuck with them for the rest of their life.”

With the belief that not every first time drug-use offender deserves jail time, Bates wholeheartedly believes that the suppliers of those drugs do.

“The guy that’s out there dealing the drugs? Yeah, he needs to go to jail,” Bates said.

Beyond the budget

The most important part of being a county commissioner is balancing a budget. With that as the top priority for all commissioners, Bates said that the job goes far beyond sorting the funds.

“Right now, they say, “Yeah, we’ve got a balanced budget.” Every commissioner have a balanced budget, it don’t take no Einstein to balance a budget.” Bates said. “But it takes somebody smart enough to reach out to your sources to get grant money and bring in industry and Job Ready Sites and work with the other commissioners.”

There are monthly County Commissioners of Ohio meetings held in Columbus where commissioners from across the state get together once a month for a few hours to share ideas and help one another out.

Bates said he wants those meetings to be a priority as they offer an exceptional amount of great ideas shared across the state.

“People say, ‘We got a new jail in our town and this is how we did it or we got a new dog pound in our town and this is where the money comes from and we’ve got manufacturing coming and this is who (brought) it in,’” Bates said.

Every candidate that runs for office, local up through federal, hopes to come out on top. Bates is no exception to that rule.

While he hopes to reclaim his seat in the courthouse to serve the people of Muskingum County, the vote is ultimately up to the people.

Being a commissioner isn’t an easy job, nor a job that can fix every problem a county has, but Bates has high hopes for his next term in office, given that he’s elected.

“Your job is never done if you’re doing it right,” Bates said.

John Bates’ opponent is current Muskingum County Commissioner Jim Porter (R-OH). Porter has already spoken to Y-City News for a “Meet the candidate” story, find it here. Bates and Porter will appear on the ballot for the Midterm Election on Nov. 6.