PP: Why are you running for this seat?

Klopfenstien: Well, it was never my goal to end up in Columbus. As I did the commissioner job, I really enjoyed it. I enjoy where I am in life, with the business and with my family. And I enjoy what we’re doing in the commissioners’ office as far as moving the county forward, so I wasn’t looking for another role.

When Craig [Riedel] decided not to run again, it opened up a seat and an opportunity. A number of people reached out to me and said, you know, you need to do this. I thought about it, prayed about it, and decided, okay, we’ll do it. It’s one of those things that it doesn’t make life simpler going to Columbus. But yet, if you have an opportunity to make things better, and you don’t take it, shame on you.

PP: What are some of the things you would like to do or accomplish in Columbus?

Klopfenstein: You know, the basic first thought is I don’t have a burning number one thing I want to accomplish. But yet, the first general overall thought is this: we’ve had the past two and a half years of government mandates of restricting rural areas, restricting businesses and taking away our freedoms and taking away our way of life. I just want to preserve what we have here, our way of life, our communities.

The overarching hand of or arm of big government needs to stay away from us. You know, we live in a great area. I think Ohio is a great state. I think we’re the best area of the state, northwest Ohio. I don’t think you can beat it. We’ve got jobs, we’ve got industry, we’ve got lots of rural area, and we’ve got great people. What people are frustrated about is the relationship between you and your doctor should be how you make your health decisions. Not somebody from Columbus saying you need to do X, Y, or Z. That’s just one example. The main thing is to preserve our way of life here and push back the bureaucracy that wants to control us.

PP: How do you balance the rights of the community versus the rights of individuals within the community? A good example would be renewable energy projects where you have landowners leasing land to renewable energy companies and stuff like that. But then you have broader community resistance to the projects coming in. How do you balance private property owner rights with the rights of the broader community?

Klopfenstein: That takes the ability for everybody to come to the table and work together. Certainly, if you live in the village of Paulding, you have zoning, and part of that zoning is the house has to be so far off the street. There are just a number of things that you have to abide by to help the village prosper, maintain itself, and look good. Certainly, within our county, I believe only seven of twelve townships are zoned. It’s very hard to get everyone on the same page without a discussion. Without zoning, it might be even harder.

But what we’ve asked people, do you want countywide zoning, not just on this issue but on other issues? It’s somewhat amusing because people will say, “We would love countywide zoning, but not for me.” We really can’t have it both ways.

Wind has done some exceptionally good things for Paulding County, between roads and schools. We could almost say the reason that the Sheriff’s department has a car rotation now and has another deputy of the night shift is because of the wind revenue.

Population density certainly helps. There are less people, so it’s a better fit. It’s a challenge personally as a farmer. We sit in an area that is very popular or very targeted for solar contracts. I don’t plan on signing any solar contracts. Because we’re farmers and my boys want to farm, we’re not going to go down that road.

Senate Bill 52 gives local entities the ability to zone under 50 megawatts for solar and to have a seat at the table on projects over that. That gives the community some ability to have a little more input.

At the end of the day, the question that ought to be asked right now is where are we on reliable baseload and reliable baseload is something you can control? Without reliable baseload, our businesses won’t come to Ohio, and I’m talking about the whole state. We will have brownouts and blackouts because we don’t have reliable baseload, and we haven’t built a new cleaner coal plant. We haven’t built any new nuclear plants. We have built some gas peaking plants, but the climate is different than it was 10 or 12 years ago.

I don’t know where you were 10, 12, 14 years ago when the first leases came in for wind. It was green energy for those people on the East and West Coast. They thought green energy would save the planet. Today, the climate is different in that the federal government is shoving it down your throat, my throat. There is a different climate today with renewable energy. If a community doesn’t want it, they have the ability to deal with it.

My bigger concern is I really like my legacy switch working. If we want Ohio to be in the forefront of people having jobs, keeping businesses here, part of what makes industry strong is reliable, cheap energy. Maybe Ohio ought to lead the way by building a couple of new nuclear plants and having cheap, reliable baseload energy for Ohio. The problem with that is we have no federal energy policy.

PP: What are you most proud of from your time as commissioner?

Klopfenstein: Certainly, the improvements that we have made to the sheriff’s department, and Jason has done an incredible job of running that organization. The ability to put more deputies on the road, especially third shift. Opening the jail back up, which you just have to thank the citizens for voting and passing that levy to operate the jail again. We’ve done a number of things as far as bringing communications up, making them better within the sheriff’s department, which makes the deputies lives safer. That’s probably one of the things that people don’t always notice, but if you want a safe community, it’s not productive in bringing people back or retaining people.

Certainly, maintaining the courthouse has been fun to do, in order to keep trying to keep the historical integrity of it. I don’t want to take credit, none of this was an individual, it’s a team effort. But our theory on the Land Bank is if we don’t clean up the villages or get rid of blighted properties, how can we expect people to come back and build a new home or remodel an existing home if the neighborhood doesn’t look good?

There’s been a lot of players with the Land Bank. Luann Wannemacher, Paulding County Treasurer, has been a key part of economic development. Tim Copsey and Kristen Schilt, from Paulding County Economic Development have certainly helped with that. It has become a real team effort to clean our county up and make people want to either invest in an existing home or build a new home. So that’s certainly something that has been really fun to be a part of.

I don’t know that I’m ready for this question. I hadn’t thought about it that way. But, you know, there’s been a number of elected officials who have been great teammates moving whatever program it is forward. Maybe we’re spoiled here, but our elected officials work pretty well together. That certainly makes our role easier, and we can get more accomplished if we’re all sort of working in the same direction.

PP: What’s your elevator speech on why somebody should vote for you?

Klopfenstein: My motive to go there is to make the 82nd district the best place in Ohio to live, work, and raise a family. What may or does qualify me to accomplish that goal is just experience. There’s no better training for the legislature, in my opinion, then being a commissioner. A commissioner is not a legislator. They abide by ORC. They have or get experience in law enforcement and judicial matters. The Treasurer’s office. I mean they touch all facets of government.

I’m not an expert in any. But when a judge has an issue, a lot of times, I’ve heard about it. So, I think part of that ability to go to Columbus and make the 82nd District better is I worked with the people that the legislation affects at the county level, which affects our citizens. I hope the elevator was going to multiple floors.