Office Sought: New Philadelphia Law Director
Family: I am married to Louisa Fete. On Sept. 30, 2011, we welcomed our first child, Marvin Heath Fete, 8 pounds, 5.3 ounces, 20 inches long. We call him “Buddy” Heath, after his grandfather Marvin “Bud” Fete, and in honor of his cousin, former Tuscarawas County native, Marine Pvt. Heath Warner, who was killed in action in Iraq on Nov. 22, 2006.
Education: 1988 New Philadelphia High School graduate; 1992 - Bachelor of Arts - Cum Laude (with honors) in History and Speech Communications from Baldwin-Wallace College; 2000 - Juris Doctorate of Law from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Hometown: New Philadelphia
Political Party Affiliation: Independent
Previous Elected Offices: None
Applicable Experience: I bring to the position of Law Director several years of past public service experience, at the federal, state, county, and city levels.
Federal: Managed a full-time U.S. Congressional District Office in New Philadelphia, where I oversaw three counties, including all of Tuscarawas I was responsible for coordinating all the casework for those counties, providing constituent services, conducting open office hours, and representing the Congressman at public hearings.
State: I served in the Ohio Governor’s Office on the communications staff of the Lt. Governor, who at that time, served as the crime czar for the State of Ohio and was responsible for overseeing 13 different state agencies dealing with criminal justice issues.
County: Two years in the Tuscarawas County Public Defender’s Office assigned to the New Philadelphia Municipal Court, where I tried hundreds of cases and managed close to 300 clients at any given time, from all over the county.
City: I worked as executive assistant to the New Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, where I attended all city council meetings, helped write a reorganization plan for city employees, sat in on arbitration disputes and contract negotiations with city employees. I filled in as Dover City Prosecutor in the New Philadelphia Municipal Court, where I was responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor criminal cases on behalf of the community.
Private Businessman: For the past eight years, I have owned and operated a successful private law firm, which I built from the ground up. I know how to maintain a budget and meet a payroll.
What is the primary reason you are running for this office? Why should someone vote for you?
I can do a better job than the current law director, who has been in office for almost 25 years. It is time to bring new leadership to this office. I chose to run as an independent candidate because I believe people are tired of politics as usual and the law director should be directly accountable to the people he serves. I have worked at every level of public service and as a small business owner for the past eight years. I will use the skills I have learned to make the law director’s office more efficient and effective. My top priority will be to eliminate waste from this office and save money for the hard-working taxpayers of New Philadelphia. As a husband, father, and lifelong resident, I believe we have an obligation and responsibility to improve our community. I have a servant’s heart and will always work hard to make New Philadelphia a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
What is the biggest problem(s) facing your community? How do you propose to solve them?
The biggest problem facing our community is the need for change. We need new leadership in New Philadelphia. I do not believe it is healthy in a democracy for one party, or one person, to dominate a single office without any opposition, for almost 25 years.
When this happens, people are deprived of a choice. There is the easy tendency for the officeholder to then have a sense of entitlement in his position, and start to believe he can do whatever he wants. For example, in 2009, the current city law director sued his own boss, by bringing a lawsuit in excess of $15,000 against the city of New Philadelphia on behalf of his family’s partnership, and had a member of his own law firm handle the case.
A law director must lead first by example, and suing your own boss, when you are pledged to defend the city from similar lawsuits, sets a bad one. It is why people are tired of politics as usual in our community. If elected, I will never take my position for granted and always put the city of New Philadelphia ahead of my own private interests.
Limited only to the office you are seeking, where specifically would you cut budgets if needed?
One of the primary duties of the law director is to prosecute misdemeanor crimes in New Philadelphia Municipal Court. In some places, the law director will take on this responsibility himself and actually prosecute cases personally. In New Philadelphia, the law director does not prosecute any cases himself. Instead, he employs three separate attorneys to do that job for him, and pays them full-time wages and benefits for what amounts to part-time work.
By contrast, the city of Dover utilizes an independent contractor to prosecute criminal cases, meaning he gets no taxpayer paid benefits, and is paid $3,450 a month to handle ALL the Dover misdemeanor cases in New Philadelphia Municipal Court.
In fact, even with the Dover Law Director double dipping and making more money than his New Philadelphia counterpart and taxpayers in New Philadelphia are actually paying $61,249.61 more for their law director than Dover taxpayers. This is because in New Philadelphia, the law director employs three times as many attorneys as every other city and village in the entire county.
My opponent argues that because we are the county seat, we need three prosecutors because we handle an additional 13 townships and other cases. Yet this argument overlooks the fact that cases from these townships are extremely rare because they are small, and generally not hot beds of criminal activity. Plus, the New Philadelphia Municipal Court only has one judge and one magistrate. There is no need for three attorneys there, when the court itself only employs two judicial officers to run courtrooms at any given time.
I will eliminate one or more of the prosecutor positions and take on the additional responsibility of prosecuting misdemeanor cases myself in the New Philadelphia Municipal Court. This move will save taxpayers thousands of dollars in salaries, health insurance and retirement payments. My proposal is similar to what Cambridge, also a county seat, just south of us, does. In Cambridge, the law director and one assistant, handles all of the cases in their municipal court by splitting time. I believe our taxpayers deserve the same kind of effort.
In addition, the current New Philadelphia Law Director charges taxpayers approximately $16,548 annually for use of his secretaries, equipment and supplies in his private office. When elected, I will also scrutinize this budget more carefully and examine ways to cut waste and abuse to further save taxpayer money.
Why are you running for public office? What do you think you can do to make a difference in
I was born the son of a schoolteacher. My father, Marvin “Bud” Fete, worked as a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, and administrator in the area for over 40 years. Growing up, I saw firsthand how my dad helped people every day. From him I learned that not only can one good person make a difference in his community, but that we have an obligation to do so.
I try to employ this principle in everything I do. It is why I spent so many years in public service. Whether in or out of the courtroom, I always take the time to meet with people one on one to listen to their concerns, and see what I can do to help. That is why since May, I been going door to door to over 4,000 houses, with the goal of meeting and speaking with every single voter.
I want to bring this same work ethic to the position of law director. I believe that if one works hard enough, and long enough, one good person really can make a difference in their community and help a lot of people.
How can local cities and towns work together to improve the entire area, rather than just do what is best for them?
I believe that we should look to our common interests. Tuscarawas County is a wonderful place to live and visit. As elected leaders, we have an obligation to be good will ambassadors, not just for our individual city or village, but for the entire area. I am proud of my home and I am constantly bringing friends and family here from out of town to visit. I enjoy sharing our rich heritage with others, and taking people to visit places like Warther Museum, Trumpet in the Land, Schoenbrunn, The Dennison Depot Railroad Museum, Amish Country and little Switzerland in Sugarcreek. As a law director, I will just have a bigger microphone to continue doing this.
Published: October 23, 2011