Delaware County needs checks, balances


By John K. Hartman - Guest columnist



A big benefit of the two-party system is that it provides checks and balances on officeholders, including those at the county and legislative levels.

Recent political events support the concept that having a mixture of Republicans and Democrats in power has the effect of keeping them honest.

Delaware County should give bipartisan government a try.

On the state level in Ohio, the Republicans control the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

We are witnessing another scandal as the majority Republicans in the Ohio House recently voted to remove Larry Householder, one of their own, as speaker after he was inducted for corrupt practices.

His predecessor, Republican Cliff Rosenberger was forced to resign in 2018 because of allegedly improper travel reimbursements.

One wonders if both gentlemen would have even tried to “get away with it” if Democrats held any semblance of power in Ohio government.

Here in Delaware County all county and legislative offices are held by Republicans. Recent years have seen scandals involving state legislators and county officials, including a sheriff and a county commissioner.

One wonders whether Delaware County would be better off with some Democrats among its legislative and county officials. It has been more than four decades since a Democrat was elected to a county or legislative position in Delaware County.

Times are changing. The question is have they changed enough for one of more Democrats to be elected.

From 2008 to 2016, Democrats running for legislative and county office averaged 33 percent of the vote. The highest vote for a Democrat was 39%. Not even close.

Times did change in 2018. The six Democrats running for legislative and county office averaged 40%. The best showing was from Danny O’Connor in the special election for 12th District Congressperson with 46%. O’Connor and Cory Hoffman, the Democrat running for the 67th District Ohio House seat, both got 44% of the vote in the general election.

In the primary election earlier this year, there were nearly as many Democrat votes cast at Republican, narrowing what had been a wide chasm.

Democrats have fielded five very capable candidates for legislative and county office for the Nov. 3 general election, giving voters good options to end one-party dominance in Delaware County and institute checks and balances.

• U.S. Congress: Alaina Shearer

Shearer, a resident of Powell, heads the ticket for county and legislative Democrats candidates.

Shearer caused shockwaves in Republican circles when she outraised her opponent 12th District U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson in the most recent reporting period. Balderson originally eked out a victory over O’Connor.

RealClearPolitics.com and the Niskanen Institute, two national political analysts, rate this contest as “leans Republican.” It is the only Congressional race in Ohio that the they consider competitive. The district of nearly 800,000 people consists of a swath of north-central Franklin County, all of Delaware, Licking, and Morrow counties, and parts of Muskingum, Richland and Marion counties.

Shearer is “everywoman” in every sense of the word. She makes fund-raising calls while cooking dinner for her blended family. She is a digital entrepreneur. Her commentaries take women’s conscientiousness to the next level.

• State representative: Rachael Morocco

Morocco is a practicing physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a professor at Ohio State University. A resident of Lewis Center, she got interested in that state government as a member of a mom’s group on behalf of her two sons. The 67th District consists of western and central Delaware County, roughly the area west of I-71. Her opponent Kris Jordan, an ally of deposed and discredited Speaker Householder, has been dogged by personal controversies and has gotten less than 50 percent of the vote in the last two Republican primaries he has entered. The district has an index of +5% for Republicans, meaning that it is “flipable” in political parlance.

• State representative: Steve Mount

Mount, a graduate of Muskingum University and Harvard Law School, is a partner in a major international law firm. The 68th District consists of eastern Delaware County (roughly east of I-71) and all of Knox County. He has a tougher climb than Morocco because the district’s index is +11% in favor of the Republicans and because the incumbent Richard Carfagna is a well-regarded moderate.

• Commissioners: Jacob Fathbruckner and Pamela Foster

Fathbruckner, an entrepreneur and small business owner, is a long-time resident of Delaware County. He ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner in 2014. He has served for several years on the Delaware County Transit Board.

Foster, a former executive at a large regional bank, does evaluations of community economic development projects at the local and national government level. Her slogan is “moving Delaware County forward.” Her goals are to improve strategic economic development, improve the quality of life for seniors and help farm communities.

Their opponents are Jeff Benton and Gary Merrell, respectively. Residents of Powell and Liberty Township were not happy with Merrell and Benton last year as the officeholders were apparently collaborating with then township trustees Melanie Leneghan and Mike Gemperline in an attempt to transfer the Liberty Township Fire Department’s EMS services to the Delaware County EMS.

This caused an uproar as more than 4,000 township residents signed petitions in an unsuccessful attempt to remove Leneghan and Gemperline from office. Eventually, Merrell suspended his support for the EMS transfer and the matter was blocked. Nonetheless, residents of Powell and Liberty Township may have long memories regarding the incumbent commissioners on Nov. 3.

In conclusion, Delaware Countians have several good choices of Democrats for county and legislative office this year. Voters have the opportunity to implement the two-party system of checks and balances by electing Democrats.

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By John K. Hartman

Guest columnist

A resident of Liberty Township since 2008, John K. Hartman is an emeritus professor of journalism at Central Michigan University and a member of the CMU Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named a distinguished alumnus of the Ashland City Schools. He serves as an alternate on the township zoning board and is a Democratic Party precinct committeeman. He was a member of the Bowling Green board of education from 1978-1997.

A resident of Liberty Township since 2008, John K. Hartman is an emeritus professor of journalism at Central Michigan University and a member of the CMU Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019 he was named a distinguished alumnus of the Ashland City Schools. He serves as an alternate on the township zoning board and is a Democratic Party precinct committeeman. He was a member of the Bowling Green board of education from 1978-1997.