Fields cites his experience to lead Pendleton County as judge executive
David Fields took a varied path from 1983 graduate of Pendleton County High School to Pendleton County Judge Executive that has given him a varied amount of life experiences that prepared him for the varied responsibilities that the position to lead the county demands.
After working at Wiseway Electrics where several Pendleton Countians work, he studied and became a welder. That led to the water district where he spent 15 years. Wanting to serve the community, he was elected magistrate in 2010 serving District 4 which is the southern part of Pendleton County.
“Served four years as magistrate and learned a lot. It was important. I would not have taken the role of judge executive if I had not had it,” he said.
He points to the time as magistrate and judge executive when he was cultivating relationships locally and at the state level that allows him to perform in the role.
“It’s not something you can just come in and do,” said Fields citing both road improvement projects and 911 Dispatch improvements as examples.
“In my four years as judge executive, I am gotten over a million dollars of funds for discretionary funding for road projects. That is about and beyond our regular road project funds,” he said.
As the county looks for future progress, Internet speed affects local business owners, students trying to do online classes, homeowners working from home and a varied other areas. It has to be a main focus of community leaders over the next four years.
He cited that Pendleton County has long history of being behind in Internet speed including broadband. With Cincinnati Bell working through Kentucky Wired project and an agreement with the fiscal court, they have 2,400 homes wired at this point.
In the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019, Fields indicates that Cincinnati Bell will be adding 900 homes and going into the City of Butler.
“They are working to get the main line as fiber optics to help with the speed as more people tap into it,” he said and that by 2020 the entire county should be covered by Cincinnati Bell.
“We need to find someway to train our citizens,” Fields said as the discussion into job growth for the county.
“We need to find a way to take care of what we have,” he said in noting that there are companies in the county that cannot fill their employee needs presently.
He indicated that business leaders in Pendleton County have told him that employees are missing “soft skills.” Simply, being on time and being present when they are scheduled to work.
Drawing on his experience as a welder and with Jay Gee needing welders, Fields was centrally involved in the creation of a program that residents could get the basic skills in welding.
Beyond helping the present businesses, Fields noted the goal of wanted improvements to an industrial site. “Basically, we want to give them a good site to build on with good access.”
He continued by pointing out the site in northeast Pendleton County is “the perfect spot.”
“We want to employ our citizens first and foremost but at this site, we can pull from Bracken. We can pull from Campbell.”
Three months after Fields took office in 2015, there was a significant reduction in mineral severance funds provided to Pendleton County and a decrease in road funds. The loss totaled over $500,000.
Rather than raise taxes, Fields indicated, “We went down to the bare bones. I am a firm believer before I go asking for more money, every little bit I got is spent wisely and that’s how we have been able to hold down taxes.”
Funding for roads, rising health insurance costs and the loss of land line fees to the dispatch center are concerns that he feels are looming in the future.
The other issue facing the community that he wants to lead for four more years is drug.
Under his leadership, Pendleton County is involved in a lawsuit against the opioid companies that have possibly aided in the creation of this drug issue.
As judge executive, he serves on the board of the health department and defended the decision to allow the needed exchange program.
“We were presented information about Hepatitis A outbreak that was traced back to sharing of needles. We knew it was coming and this was a way to address it.”
He added that the program is paid for through private funds and does not come out of taxes.
He also felt Christian base programs have shown the ability to help as well as strengthen law enforcement.
“Our courts are full. We are making headway,” he noted.
With the fiscal court entering a one-year contract to help provide two school resource officers, Fields indicated while being supportive of the school district, he thinks the situation would be better served on the school district creating their own police district.
“We need to sit down at the end of the year and see how the agreement has worked out but I can see benefits to the school district having a police district. It would open them up to cop grants,” said Fields.
Fields summed up the past four years, “I think it has been going really good. I am proud of the four years. We have made progress but still have some things to do. We’ve got some extra stuff but have plans to go after even more.”
You can the entire in-depth video interview that covers these and other topics more in-depth at www.falmouthoutlook.com. There is a growing list of video interviews with local community leaders that can also be viewed.