College student files candidacy for county auditor

LISBON – A 22-year-old college student who recently moved to Columbiana County is running for county auditor.

Brandon J. Kovach filed candidacy petitions Monday at the county elections board to run in the Democratic primary election on May 5 for county auditor against incumbent Republican Nancy Milliken, who is seeking re-election to a fourth term.

Originally from Austintown, where he was active in the Mahoning County Democratic Party, Kovach said he recently moved to Lisbon because he and his fiancee always liked the county and would like to make it their home. He registered to vote in the county on Jan. 14.

“It isn’t country enough for me,” Kovach said of Austintown, where he graduated from high school. He is living in a Lisbon rental property owned by his campaign manager, Ryan Hillman.

Kovach is scheduled to graduate in May from the University of Akron with bachelor degrees in political science and criminal justice, with a minor in security administration. He intends to pursue a master’s degree in public administration from Kent State University after that.

While in college, Kovach started a small business and political consulting business called Blue Revolt Consulting that he worked at as his studies allowed, and he is familiar with some accounting principles. He said running for auditor is a way to combine his interests in politics and public service while drawing on his education and consulting experience.

If elected, Kovach said he would attend the state training sessions available to new auditors to give him the additional training he needs to perform his duties. “The state trains you on everything,” he said.

Kovach would donate 25 percent of his $76,754 auditor’s salary to the community, another 10 percent to his church and 10 percent to start a program to reward county employees who come up with innovative ways to operate more efficiently while saving money.

He also pledged to donate 15 percent of his salary ($11,520) to the county drug task force “to hopefully make your neighborhood safer, and that will raise property values.”

All these donations would reduce his salary to about $46,000, which Kovach said is “still a great income.”

Kovach credited Milliken for taking a proactive approach in lobbying the state taxation department to limit increases in residential property values and would the same in fighting to limit changes in the CAUV that recently cut the tax break for farmland by 40 percent.

“People deserve a fighter, someone who will fight for them,” he said.

Kovach also intends to approach county commissioners with a plan to take $1.5 million from the current record $3.3 million balance in the county general fund and use it to provide property tax breaks to residents.

“I can’t promise you that we’re going to give you a tax break, but I can promise you that I’ll fight for it,” he said.

Kovach would also work to improve office efficiency and improve the quality of state audit reports. “The state auditors have come back every year and told our auditor’s office there is more we can do, and that’s kind of my slogan: There’s more we can do,” he said.

Kovach does not intend to make a career in the auditor’s office and that his long-term goal is get his doctorate degree and become a college professor. “I want to do a couple of years and do the best I can,” he said.