Two seats on the Delaware County Board of Commissioners were up for grabs Tuesday, and both were maintained by their Republican incumbents. Gary Merrell and Jeff Benton were each reelected by comfortable margins to serve another term, beating out Democratic candidates Jacob Fathbruckner and Pamela Foster, respectively.
For Merrell, the victory marks his second reelection and his third term overall. He received the nod on 72,251 of the 118,363 votes, good for 61% of the total votes cast in the county.
Benton’s reelection was slightly closer, albeit still decisive, as he defeated Foster by more than 19,000 votes to reach a second full term; He was first appointed to the board in 2015 to finish an unfulfilled term of a previous commissioner.
In a statement following his victory on Tuesday evening, Merrell, a former newspaper publisher, said, “Professionally, I have enjoyed a successful career with many challenges and opportunities during my years in newspaper leadership. However, I can definitely say that my eight years of serving this great county has meant as much to me as all my years of managing newspapers.
“Representing the taxpayers in Delaware County, Ohio, in a fiscally prudent manner, and yet ensuring we are prepared for the challenges required by a rapidly growing county requires vision and a questioning attitude. I value working with my fellow commissioners who possess those talents. Together we are moving the county forward.”
Merrell added, “My continued involvement in Delaware County is made possible by the confidence you again placed in me in this year’s election. I do not take that support lightly. Every decision I make over the next four years will be as your representative. I promise to not forget that I represent you. That has been true for the last eight years and will not change the next four years.”
Prior to the election, Fathbruckner told The Gazette he felt his chances of winning the race were “a long shot, at best,” but he wanted to give residents in Delaware County a choice to make on the ballot.
“People deserve the option to show if they’re dissatisfied and to have hope for something different, possibly,” he said last month. “People not having an option is a really easy way for people to lose faith in the system.”
Fathbruckner said following the election that he felt he did “alright” in the vote “based on the composition of the county,” adding, “I am humbled and grateful for the votes I did receive. I don’t take any of those for granted. I really do appreciate that people were willing to vote for me, looked at what I had put out there, and found it acceptable.”
Fathbruckner was gracious in defeat, saying of Merrell, “Gary is a fundamentally decent human being, and I believe he will do his best for the county.”
In the other race, Foster said, “I really do want to thank all of the people who voted for me, all of the people who shared their concerns and their issues, all the people who supported me. I thank all of them.”
Foster went on to say this defeat is not the end for her because the issues are still existent in the county.
“We need bipartisan governance in Delaware County, and I will continue to work towards bipartisan governance,” she said.
Benton could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. The Delaware County Republican Party utilized Facebook to congratulate both Benton and Merrell on their respective victories, saying, “Thanks to your fantastic leadership, Delaware County is the best place to live and raise a family in our state! Thank you for your service and keep up the great work, gentlemen.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.