But Avila, who has represented organized labor at many wage committee meetings over the years, insists the adoption of union wages is in the county's best interest because it would help create jobs and sustain middle-class wages.
“(Avila's) a nice man, but we want to take the lowest and most responsible bid and save taxpayers money,” Bloom said.
“The philosophy is that jobs ‘trickle down' from business. But I want to put working taxpayers first and use the statute properly,” Avila countered. The law requires governments to determine the community's most-common wage before bidding projects of $150,000 or more.
The two also differ when it comes to the county's latest job-creation initiative: the possible investment of several million dollars in shovel-ready industrial sites. Bloom has supported the proposal, saying the lack of government-controlled land equipped with utilities and roads has been cited as a deficiency by economic development officials and industrial site-selection experts.
Avila agrees it's a “good idea to have land ready to go,” but says the private sector should take the lead “unless somebody can prove to me nobody else can do it.”
Avila promised to “be accountable and work to the fullest extent,” a reference to critics who suggest Bloom spends too much time out of the office – a charge Bloom refutes, saying she needs to be out in the community to do her job well.
Bloom cited the current $31 million extension of Maplecrest Road as one of her main achievements, and said her work on improving other county properties, including the courthouse and coliseum, has also served taxpayers well.
Bloom, who became Allen County's first female commissioner in 1994, said she wants to continue to seek state and federal funding for projects such as the “Fort to Port” project, which is improving U.S. 24 from Fort Wayne to Toledo.
She also is skeptical of suggestions Allen County should replace its three commissioners with a single executive.
Avila said he wants to make sure companies receiving tax incentives actually produce the promised jobs and investment. He knows winning a countywide race as a Democrat isn't easy – there hasn't been a Democratic commissioner since Vance Amstutz had the job more than 30 years ago – but Avila thinks more diversity in the office would be good for taxpayers.
“I'm qualified, I have the desire, I can learn and I have a lot of life experience,” he said. “And I think I could be a consensus-builder.”
Republican Therese Brown, who serves as Clerk of Courts, is unopposed for 2nd District Commissioner.
Office at a glanceTerm: four years, beginning Jan. 1.
Duties: Commissioners serve as the executive and legislative branches of county government, with the authority to approve policies that affect county employees and ordinances that primarily affect unincorporated areas of the county. They are the only unit in county government that can receive bids for projects and services and sign contracts. They also supervise county buildings, make planning and zoning decisions, and supervise construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. They must live within their geographic districts.