Longtime public servant packs up, looks to future

Greg Jolivette spends 59th birthday clearing out his office. Soon, he starts new chapter of his life.

HAMILTON — There’s a story to every photo that hung from the walls or sat atop shelves in Butler County Commissioner Greg Jolivette’s office at the Government Services Center.

The black and white photo with he and Charlie Rose was taken in New York City when as Hamilton’s mayor, Jolivette was interviewed about the exclamation point added to the city’s name.

Then there’s the photo of Jolivette and his son with the late “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert and show guest Democratic strategist James Carville, during a trip to Washington, D.C.

All of his photos and mementos are boxed, ready to be taken home.

The lame duck county commissioner leaves office Jan. 2, making way for his successor Cindy Carpenter, who is leaving the County Clerk of Courts office. But he’s honored to have sat on the commission’s dais.

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“I’ve always tried to do the very best and make the very best decisions on behalf of the county,” he said. “I believe I have done that for the most part.”

Jolivette entered public service in 1981 with a desire to give back to the community. He had friends on Hamilton City Council and ran. He finished third, with the top seven gaining a seat.

Jolivette’s plan was to finish cleaning his sixth-floor corner view office Wednesday, which was his 59th birthday.

His time on the commission had its end date when he was beaten in the Republican primary election by Carpenter.

“I was very disappointed in the May primary, of course, but since that time I’ve started reflecting on what’s been done and what could be and I’m pretty upbeat about the future, looking forward to the new chapter in my life,” he said. “I feel I have a lot more to offer in public service.”

The only indication Jolivette ever used that corner office — which was once former Commissioner Mike Fox’s — will be a good-luck note to Carpenter that he plans to write.

Now, he said, he’ll be turning to a new chapter of his memoir in progress.

High on list is return to public office

Jolivette would like to expand his popular Ohio 4 seasonal drive-in root beer stand.

But his desire to re-enter public service once he leaves his Butler County Commission seat in the next few days is greater than his ideas of a Jolly’s expansion — at least right now.

Jolivette said he’s flirting with the idea of running for his old 54th District Statehouse seat, which he had to give up in 2004 due to term limits. Then-Commissioner Courtney Combs, R-Hamilton, won election to the statehouse seat, and Jolivette was appointed to replace Combs, who reaches his term limit in two years. But Jolivette said he won’t make an official announcement just yet — maybe in a couple of months, he said.

Has few regrets

As he reflects on his tenure as a county commissioner, he said he’s proud of his work.

“I’ve always tried to pride myself as someone who’s very thoughtful, but not stubborn,” he said. “I can be amenable to different points of view as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the big picture in moving the county forward.”

There are a few redos he’d like to have, he said, “but mainly I think I would have been a little more forceful with my feelings toward different issues.”

For example, Jolivette said he wished he would have been more resolute about consolidating dispatch centers across the county along with the 911 communications system project, and having communities financially contributing to maintenance for the system, paid for through a short-term sales tax hike that has since expired.

“It was done in a real rush in making sure it happened,” Jolivette said of the emergency system. “I wish we had taken a little more time to think about how we’d pay for it and how the communities would have paid for it.”

Colleagues say farewell

Jolivette’s colleagues said his respect for the office and the citizenry showed.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Greg,” said Commissioner Charles Furmon. “He’s been very good for the county, and his heart and his vote has always been in favor of what’s best for the citizens of Butler County.”

Commissioner Donald Dixon worked with the exiting commissioner 25 years ago when Jolivette was Hamilton’s mayor and Dixon was a county commissioner.

“Greg really cares about Butler County,” he said. “I found the opportunity to work with Greg was positive as it was the first time. Sometimes we do things differently, but Greg’s heart is in the right place.”

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