Last Friday morning, members of the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce held their pre-election membership and candidates breakfast; and with a General Election hovering on the horizon, chamber members were treated to a visit from a bona-fide candidate for President of the United States – write-in candidate Ben Hartnell from Westerville.
Hartnell is a high school history teacher who said he originally wanted to make presidential elections interesting to 14- and 15-year-olds, then it became a mission on how not to waste your vote.
“Your vote is an expression of yourself, but we’re slaves to the two-party system,” Hartnell said. “If you don’t vote outside of the two-party system you’ll never break it. By winning Ohio, I could keep both parties from getting the 270 electoral votes they need.
“Remember, true change starts with elected officials,” Hartnell added. “And true change starts with us.”
Ed Albertson, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, said this is a year to become engaged in the political process.
“I feel that our political process is broken with campaign finance abuse and gerrymandering,” Albertson said. “People are not getting the option to select their leaders. We need to redraw districts so politicians don’t pick their voters, voters picked their politicians. We need to be sure everybody has the right to vote and has their say.”
Republican Pat Tiberi is seeking reelection for the US House of Representatives, Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.
Tiberi said the United States Congress reflects the divided state of the country right now.
“Our founding fathers develop a unique document of checks and balances,” Tiberi said. “We have a system where you don’t just do anything you want. It takes 60 percent of the senate to get a bill to the president’s desk, and the president can veto it.”
Tiberi said that both houses of congress can override a presidential veto, but party divisions make that process almost impossible.
“What we need is to get more legislators who work together to get things done,” Tiberi said.
J. Baumeister, businessman, is a write-in Republican candidate running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Ohio 12th Congressional District.
“We need representatives willing to address all issues facing the public instead of their number one issue being getting reelected,” Baumeister said. “If I get elected, I will not spend my time fundraising. I’ll spend my time addressing issues that need to be resolved.”
Rick Carfagna is a Republican candidate for State Representative, Ohio’s 68th District. He spoke about Delaware County’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate and $92,000 median household income.
“Delaware County is positioned to be a vibrant area for years to come,” Carfagna said. “I offer the right balance between private and public approach. I was raised in my family’s grocery store; I understand the challenges of a mom-and-pop business. I worked in the corporate world and have served as a Genoa Township trustee for the past seven years. I was a previous legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives, and have strong relationships in business, government, and the local community.”
Carfagna added that he believes in supporting policies that would advance the 68th House District while working both sides of the aisle.
Democrat John Russell, also a candidate for the Ohio House 68th District, was on the schedule but was a no-show.
Republican Andrew Brenner is a candidate for State Representative, Ohio’s 67th district.
Brenner, who is running against Democrat Janet Breneman, is seeking his fourth term in office and faces term limits. He serves on the Community and Family Advancement Committee, is chair of the House Education Committee, is a member of the Healthcare Efficiencies Study Committee, and the Rules and Reference Committee.
Brenner said the activity he enjoys most as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives is dealing with constituent issues.
David Gormley is a candidate for judge of the 5th District Court of Appeals that covers 15 counties.
Gormley is a Harvard Law School graduate and former Delaware County Assistant Prosecutor. He has worked for the Ohio Attorney General’s office under Betty Montgomery. Gormley served from 2000 until 2003 as the State Solicitor of Ohio. He also served as an assistant attorney general and as an associate solicitor in the Attorney General’s office, representing various state agencies and officials.
The following candidates running unopposed also addressed chamber members:
Natalie Fravel is running for Delaware County Clerk of Courts of Common Pleas. Fravel is a graduate of Delaware Hayes High School and an Ohio Wesleyan University graduate.
Jeff Benton was appointed to fill a vacant term in office when former Delaware County Commissioner Ken O’Brien retired early. Benton is running for a full term at the county commissioner’s dais.
Benton is a seventh generation Delaware County resident with 35 years of experience in the business world. He said he believes in developing long-term plans to address the three most important issues facing the county — economic development, sanitation (sewers), and transportation.
Gary Merrell is seeking reelection as a Delaware County Commissioner.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last four years,” Merrell said. “We have three commissioners with different personalities, but we have a lot in common – it’s a great group. Economic growth in this county is extremely important, and we need more quality jobs in our county.”
Russell Martin is running for reelection as Delaware County Sheriff.
“When I came on board, my goal was to make the Delaware County Sheriff’s office the best in Ohio, and today we are,” Martin said. “But we’re not done yet. We won’t be satisfied until we’re one of the finest sheriffs offices in the country.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.