The Delaware County Republican Party’s screening subcommittee will recommend Tuesday that central committee members select Jeff Benton to replace former Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien, according to a copy of the screening report obtained by The Gazette.
Benton, a former former president and CEO of the Delaware County Bank and Trust Co., is one of four candidates to apply for the position. The Delaware County Republican Party meets Tuesday to choose O’Brien’s replacement.
Benton, a Delaware Hayes High School graduate, has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Miami University.
He is a member of the party’s central committee. Benton also serves as vice chairman and deputy treasurer of the party’s executive committee and as treasurer of the campaign committee for Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township.
“The screening committee found that Jeff has properly estimated the potential campaign costs and that he had both a well-thought-out plan and the ability to raise such funds,” the report reads. “Furthermore, he had contacted many key people in the county and had already garnered their support.”
William Glenn, who has a doctorate in health care administration and worked in a Veterans Administration center for 22 years before retirement, withdrew his name after the screening subcommittee voted to recommend Benton, according to the report. It was determined that he voted in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Along with Benton, the remaining candidates are Donald Worly and Michael Kelley.
Kelley is the owner of Ostrander Implement. A Buckeye Valley graduate, Kelley attended Ohio State University.
After former Commissioner Dennis Stapleton declined to run for re-election last year, Kelley sought the party’s endorsement for the seat, and fell just four votes shy of receiving its blessing.
However, the screening process was not kind to Kelley last time around.
The committee deemed that he “does not possess the qualifications to hold this office,” according to a copy of the report obtained by The Gazette. “He demonstrated little understanding of the job of county commissioner or county government.”
The report went on to question Kelley’s electability due to his membership in the John Birch Society by stating that “(he fears) this county may elect a liberal Democrat, (and) his candidacy could very well contribute to that outcome.”
This time around, the screening report stated that its goal is to focus “attention on the positive attributes of the recommended candidate.”
However, the report does mention two civil lawsuits, both settled, involving Kelley’s company.
Worly has a law degree from Capital University law school. He is currently a privately practicing attorney.
He is a former member of Delaware City Council and served as mayor from 1981-1983. He also served as a magistrate in the Delaware County Juvenile Court from 2003 to 2005.
While Benton is recommended for the post, the two remaining candidates will have an opportunity to make their cases for the job Tuesday.
Each candidates will be allowed to speak for up to five minutes, followed by two-minute statements of support from two persons chosen by the candidate.
Then central committee members will be given 30 minutes to submit written questions to the candidates, which will be followed by closing statements from each candidate.
Whomever the party chooses will be required to run in the Republican primary in March and the November 2016 general election.
O’Brien resigned his commission seat unexpectedly June 30 and said changes in the state employees’ retirement system involving his pension was the reason. He has since filed to run for a seat on the Olentangy Board of Education.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.