There are not a lot of contested races in Shelby County for the March 17 primary election, but Penn Township Supervisor Mark A. Bennett is challenging County Board Chairman Bruce Cannon for the Republican nomination to his District 2 seat.
District 2 has about the same number of people as other townships (about 2,000), but it is the largest district in square miles. District 2 includes: part of Penn, Flat Branch, Pickaway, Ridge, Rural, Todd’s Point and part of Tower Hill Townships. Republican Robert Jordan is the other board member representing District 2.
Cannon has been on the board since 2008. He was the Shelby County Board Chairman from 2010-2014. He was most recently vice-chairman under Chairman David Cruitt. When Cruitt retired in December, Cannon was elected to fill Cruitt’s vacancy.
Bennett is a full-time farmer, who runs a family farm with his wife, Nancy. His grandfather and his father were farmers. Bennett’s have two other full-time employees.
Bennett served as a Penn Township trustee for 15 years and three years ago took over as Penn Township Supervisor. Nancy Bennett serves as a Penn Township Trustee.
Bennett said that if he wins the primary and is elected to the board, he will give up his position as township supervisor.
Cannon brings a wealth of experience to the county board and is currently overseeing a revisiting of the methods by which the county conducts business. This would be Bennett’s first time serving the entire county, if elected.
However, Bennett says he is familiar with more than his area of the county. He farms in Penn, Todd’s Point, Flat Branch, Moweaqua Townships and south down by Lakewood, Cold Springs Township.
“Three years ago I was asked about running for District 1 board member, but I was half a mile outside the district,” Bennett said. “Since then, I have been paying more attention to the whole county. I’ve noticed a lot of rules not being followed. I think I can bring better representation.
“I think I have a better feel where the county money needs to be spent. Better than my predecessor. 100% only goes so far and it needs to be distributed fairly. There is too much waste going on. Everybody needs to be accountable.”
Since becoming Chairman, again, Cannon supports new County Treasurer Erica Firnhaber, as well as Shelby County Clerk Jessica Fox for their efforts to bring past practices into compliance with the state regulations.
Still, Bennett is running for Cannon’s seat.
“I don’t think he is following the Republican way of thinking,” Bennett said. “He seems to have his own agenda.”
“I have always been a Republican,” Cannon said. “How have I deviated? I didn’t even know there was a Republican agenda. My agenda as chairman for four years was to reduce county expenses. As the chairman, I am bi-partisan. If not, you can’t move forward.”