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9The Star Beacon;

JEFFERSON — Incumbent county Commissioner Casey Kozlowski, a Republican, is seeking a second term on the top county board.

The 30-year-old Pierpont native and former 99th Ohio House District state representative earned an initial four years in 2014 — taking over for former commissioner Joe Moroski, who retired — and unofficially announced his second campaign in November.

“It’s hard to believe that my first term’s already coming to a close. It has truly been a wonderful opportunity to serve the residents of Ashtabula County,” he told the Star Beacon Tuesday. “While I’ve been able to accomplish a lot … there are

many other things I hope to accomplish in

a second term.”

Happening this term is the opening of the county’s new 911 dispatch center, which will assume the operations of four now-closed county 911 centers and is set for completion Feb. 1. During Kozlowski’s term, the county board of commissioners picked a permanent spot for the center and signed off on more than $1.2 million in equipment and utility upgrades.

Kozlowski served as the commissioners’ representative on the project. He said he’ll look forward to “addressing some of the dispatch needs in our county.”

Monthly committee meetings on proposals for either a new or upgraded county jail are expected to continue for at least another two months, before county officials begin a project spanning next year and possibly beyond.

Kozlowski said the project could create more treatment options for drug offenders — who take up much of the jail space and court schedule slots — and could become a “model” for the rest of the state.

“I think we recognize there’s a shortage of jail space and the lack of sufficient space is certainly an impediment for accountability of one’s actions,” he said. “I believe it’s an economic development issue. Addressing this issue and coupling it with the treatment component is something I’d really like to see come to fruition.”

Tangentially, Kozlowski said he’s taken point in a national initiative that provides education on mental illness treatment and resources for local justice systems. The “Stepping Up Initiative” seeks to reduce the number of jail incarcerations due to mental illness-related crimes.

Kozlowski said he prides himself on efforts to make county business more transparent, touting the revival of the commissioner board’s evening public meeting touring schedule as a “big success,” as well as publication of the new “Ashtabula County Insights” newsletter, which reviews the board’s initiatives.

He also cited positive progress in the county’s Building Department, which was restructured during his first year on the board due to poor performance and slow turnaround of permits and commercial planning.

“I think that’s

huge. When contractors are trying to get to

work and there’s

only so many days they can be working outside, that has an impact on their bottom line,” he said.

During Kozlowski’s tenure, he’s served as CEO of the Northeast Ohio Consortium of Governments, chairman of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, and a member of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio board of directors.

Before joining the state legislature in 2010 for a single term, Kozlowski served on the Pymatuning Valley Local Schools board.

He holds an Associate of Arts degree from Lakeland Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Management from Ohio University.