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Ognio will run for Post 3 commission seat held by Hearn

Local businessman Randy Ognio has decided to run for the Post 3 seat on the Fayette County Commission currently held by Lee Hearn.

Ognio, who is the president of B&O Electric in Fayetteville, has addressed the commission at nearly every meeting for well over a year, taking an interest in county operations in efforts to save taxpayer funds.

Ognio argues that policy changes need to be made in the county’s bidding process to make sure the county is doing its due diligence.

“You’ve got to be fiscally responsible because you’re spending the citizens’ money,” Ognio said.

Ognio is also of the opinion that the citizens’ feedback should be valued more by the commission, and deserves a reply at the same meeting.

“I go through the agenda before every meeting and come up with a whole list of information I spend talking about,” Ognio said of his remarks to the commission at every meeting. He questions if the commissioners even follow up on his concerns, because although his comments are acknowledged, commissioners don’t bother to follow up with him on the issues after the meeting.

“I want citizens to be able to say, ‘Look, why are we doing this?’ and we need to be able to answer them,” Ognio said. “Right now, you don’t get those answers.”

Ognio said he also would like to remove the policy enacted earlier this year that requires residents to sign up in advance of commission meetings in order to speak. The previous process of calling interested persons by a show of hands was proper, Ognio said, adding that many residents are unaware that if they want to address the commission they need to show up several minutes before the meeting begins.

When enacting that process, several commissioners said they felt it would bring more order to the meeting by having a list from which residents’ names could be called in order to speak to the commission.

Ognio, an opponent of the West Fayetteville Bypass, said he feels the project is “a waste” and also was an abuse of the powers of eminent domain, which he calls “ridiculous.” Commissioners Lee Hearn, Herb Frady and Robert Horgan have defended their votes in favor of the bypass by saying it was authorized by county voters who approved the 2004 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Ognio said he also sees a need to improve transparency of government operations.

“There’s too many executive sessions in my opinion,” Ognio said. “If you’re going to take somebody’s property, why go behind closed doors and vote? Do it so everybody can see. Let the people know what’s going on.”

Ognio noted that eminent domain can be important to use for essential projects such as reservoirs, but he didn’t see the need to use it for the bypass.

Moreover, the county needs to be looking for ways to rein in spending “in times where people are hurting.”

“There’s no reason we should’ve raised taxes last year,” Ognio said. “And on the topic of raising taxes, they implemented a stormwater fee we’re going to have to pay. But churches have to pay it, and to me that’s just going beyond government ... churches are supposed to be tax exempt. Who pays for it if the churches have to pay for it? Citizens, and that’s not right.”

Ognio said voters can count on him to avoid group opinions, and if he disagrees with an issue, he will vote against it.

“I’m very opinionated,” Ognio said. “So if several people say this is the way it ought to be, and if I don’t agree with it, I’m going to vote against it.”

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