Now that Carol O’Brien has stepped down as Delaware County prosecutor, you may be wondering what happens next. Well, as with all things government, there’s a process for that!
In the short term, it is my privilege to serve as the county’s interim prosecutor so that the business of the office and service to our community continues uninterrupted, but that is just the beginning.
Carol’s last day was Feb. 28. That makes today my first day serving as interim prosecutor, and I am honored to do so. I am, however, the first of two to be appointed to fill this very important position.
My appointment was made by the Delaware County Board of Commissioners. This first appointment is a safeguard provided by Ohio law in order to fill the gap until the Republican Central Committee names a successor.
Why is the Republican Central Committee tasked with this particular decision? That too, is a matter of law. Ohio law requires the county central committee (of the same political party as the last prosecutor) make the appointment. In this case, Carol is Republican.
The appointment process by the Republican Central Committee can only begin after the vacancy occurs. Since Carol’s last day was yesterday, the clock has officially started ticking. Wait … what clock? Once again we turn to the law, which specifies that at least five days, but not more than 45 days after the vacancy occurs, the Central Committee must hold a meeting and vote on whom the next successor will be.
After that vote, I will no longer serve as your interim prosecutor. The newly appointed person will step in to fill the role of Delaware County prosecutor through the remainder of Carol’s unexpired term. How long is that? Well, the next general election for state and county officers will be November 2020. If the appointee wishes to continue in our office beyond his or her appointment, he or she would have to run for office in 2020.
Right now, 2020 is a bit too far away to know what will happen. Today, however, is a different story, and what I know in this moment is that I am honored to serve as your interim prosecutor. While it may only be for a short time, I am excited for the opportunity, and I take the responsibility very seriously.
Delaware County is my community. I have lived here for almost 20 years and have been with the prosecutor’s office for 16, serving under both former prosecutors Dave Yost and Carol O’Brien. For all of those 16 years, I have been an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Civil Division, and under Carol, I have served as the chief of that division.
I have always enjoyed serving the citizens of Delaware County, and I look forward to the coming days and the new experiences they will bring. And just like you, I am very interested in learning who our next prosecutor will be. As soon as the Republican Central Committee announces its appointment, our office will post it on our “Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office” Facebook page. Until then, I am humbled to be entrusted with this important and unique responsibility.
Christopher D. Betts currently serves as interim Delaware County prosecutor.