On this day four years ago, The Highland County Press announced two endorsements on the 2012 general election ballot.

One of the endorsements went to Dr. Brad Wenstrup.

Earlier that year, The Highland County Press was the first and only regional medium to endorse Wenstrup in his Republican primary campaign against GOP incumbent Jean Schmidt.

Four years later, we stand by that endorsement and recommend voters in Ohio’s Second Congressional District continue their support of Congressman Wenstrup in this year’s general election. (Election Day is Nov. 8; however, early voting is under way.)

Wenstrup has an earned combination of private-sector business experience with a conservative approach to congressional action. He is a lieutenant colonel – possibly soon to be a full colonel – with almost 20 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserves.

In 2005, he deployed for a year of active duty in Iraq where he served as a combat surgeon with the 344th Combat Support Hospital. For his service and actions in Iraq, Wenstrup was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge.

This year, Wenstrup and a few of his conservative (i.e. rational) colleagues introduced H.R. 4486 – the Do Your Job Act.

The Do Your Job Act would withhold pay from members of Congress if they failed to vote on spending bills before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The resolution is an attempt – futile, no doubt – to put an end to the last-minute, back-room spending deals and would hold members of Congress accountable for these highly politicized and repeated budget “crises.”

“If we don’t fulfill the responsibilities of our office, we shouldn’t get paid,” Wenstrup said.

No kidding.

“That may require some tough votes,” Wenstrup added, pointing to the fact that the Senate had voted on only two of 60 appropriations bills in the last five years. “A 3-percent participation rate in the Senate is unacceptable, especially when it comes to how the government is supposed to operate in spending our money.”

Indubitably.

Wenstrup’s voting record is available at: http://wenstrup.house.gov/voterecord/.

Legislation he has sponsored or cosponsored is available at: https://www.congress.gov/member/brad-wenstrup/W000815?resultIndex=1&q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22brad+wenstrup%22%5D%2C%22sponsorship%22%3A%22sponsored%22%7D.

For the fifth time in less than five years, The Highland County Press endorses Brad Wenstrup for Congress. He has earned voters’ trust and support. He knows his way back to Highland County, too.

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• On the Nov. 8 ballot in Highland County, there are five countywide offices – all held by Republicans – that are uncontested. (There goes the newspaper’s 2016 advertising budget!)

Incumbents Shane Wilkin (commissioner), Anneka Collins (prosecutor – and The HCP’s other endorsement in 2012), Dwight Hodson (clerk of courts), Donnie Barrera (sheriff), Chad McConnaughey (recorder), Vickie Warnock (treasurer), Dean Otworth (engineer) and Dr. Jeff Beery (coroner) all have the luxury of running unopposed this year. (I looked twice, but did not see Republican county auditor Bill Fawley on the ballot. Maybe he was re-elected without opposition two years ago.)

However, there is one countywide race for commission that is garnering a measure of local attention and discussion. Three candidates – Terry Britton (R), Alex Butler (I) and Tara Campbell (D) are vying for the commission seat currently held by former sheriff Tom Horst, who decided not to seek re-election.

Of the three, I have known Terry Britton the longest by far. I also know Alex Butler fairly well. I don’t believe Tara Campbell and I have met, but I have watched one of her campaign speeches online, and she delivered a fine presentation. Plus, she’s a Marine, which doesn’t hurt her credibility at all. (Thank you for your service, Tara.)

After reasonable consideration, The Highland County Press is not endorsing in the county commission race.

From all indications, these are three quality citizens, all of whom have the county’s best interests at heart. We look forward to working next year with the candidate the voters select to represent their interests. Given what we know today about budget projections and changes in local tax revenues, it’s going to be a challenge for Terry, Alex or Tara. (Not to mention current commissioners Shane Wilkin and Jeff Duncan.) Good luck.

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It should come as no surprise to our readers that we are endorsing U.S. Sen. Rob Portman for re-election. The newspaper endorsed Portman against Lee Fisher in 2010, and we stand by it.

This weekend, three newspapers in northeast Ohio endorsed Portman, 60, including two of which that previously endorsed his opponent, former Gov. Ted Strickland, 75.

The Akron Beacon Journal – having endorsed both Strickland and Fisher in 2010 – points to Portman’s “ability to work across the aisle to get things done, his work to find solutions to the heroin and prescription drug epidemic as well as energy efficiency among other issues.”

The Beacon Journal said Portman stands out as “prepared, diligent, and thoughtful” and that Strickland seems “disengaged and stale.”

The Youngstown Vindicator also made a switch, after endorsing Portman’s opponent in 2010.

While The Highland County Press has criticized Portman for his switch on the Defense of Marriage Act, which he co-wrote and former President Bill Clinton signed into law, the senator’s overall record has more pros than cons for Ohio voters.

As The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer said in its endorsement of Portman: “On every level, Portman is by far the superior candidate in this race – smart and engaged on the issues that matter to Ohioans, including working people. Strickland, 75, repeatedly challenged Portman's positions during the endorsement interview but failed to offer his own clear road maps for how he planned to help college students with student loan debt, for instance, or improve flaws in Obamacare, which Portman wants to repeal. It's hard to believe Strickland could make a difference in the Senate.”

If elected to the Senate – and if Hillary Clinton is elected as president – Strickland would be nothing more than another rubber-stamp for another Clinton. (Hillsboro taxpayers know all about rubber-stamps in city government.)

At least Portman would offer some opposition – limited as it may be – should the liberals retake the Senate.

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Local levies

When casting a vote for a local tax increase, it’s always worthwhile to closely read the ballot language.

Is the levy a new tax?

Is it a renewal of an existing tax?

Or is it an additional tax to the same agency that is funded by an existing tax?

The last one is always a good indicator prior to voting.

Here’s another good indicator for those who vote to place these levies on the ballot: When your tax levy fails, how many of the tax supporters calculate their personal would-be tax assessment and send in the appropriate amount to the county? After all, you were in favor of the tax. There’s nothing prohibiting you from paying it, even if it fails. Write the check.

Someone remind me to ask Bill Fawley or Vickie Warnock how much of that money comes in each year. That will be a great indicator as to some people’s sincerity.

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POTUS flapdoodle

OK. Since several of you have asked, no, we are not endorsing anyone on the ballot for president of these United States.

But you do have to admire Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein who has warned the liberal progressives not to throw away their vote by supporting corporatist Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

An “Anybody But Clinton” vote is a good one. In this political field of dreams (nightmares), there’s none worse than Hillary Clinton.

Happy voting.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.