Stapleton to step down early

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Delaware Gazette in Oct. 2014.

By Dustin Ensinger

Delaware County Commissioner Dennis Stapleton has decided not to fill out the remainder of his term.

Stapleton, who will resign Nov. 30, said his decision was due to a change in the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System. He said he would not have qualified for health insurance through the program if he remained employed with the county on Dec. 1 because he did not have 20 years of public service.

“I’m not anxious to do it,” he said.

Stapleton’s term expires Dec. 31.

The winner of the Nov. 4 race between Republican Barb Lewis and Democrat Jacob Fathbruckner will fill the seat on Jan. 1.

Stapleton will return to the insurance field to take a job with Huntington Insurance Inc. He has 25 years of experience in the private insurance industry.

Elected to office in 2010, Stapleton said he believes that, during his nearly four years in office, he has witnessed the profile of Delaware County grow in central Ohio.

“I think we’ve heightened the awareness of who Delaware County is,” he said.

He said he also believes that the commission is now seen in a more positive light. Before he was elected, two commissioners had been removed due to ethics charges.

“I think we’ve elevated the commissioners’ office since I’ve been there,” he said. “What we were able to do is to take the good things that were there and made them better.”

Stapleton does have some regrets. He said he hoped to rein in the county’s health care costs and he wished the conversation about a new facilities plan had occurred earlier in his term.

“I think we were gun-shy and we just kind of sat back and let that go,” he said of the recently adopted plan that will add a new court facility.

Fellow Commissioner Gary Merrell said Stapleton “brings a lot to the table.”

“He cares a lot about this county,” he said. “He’s very passionate about that.”

The remaining commissioners – Ken O’Brien and Merrell – will have the opportunity to appoint Stapleton’s successor. All three are Republicans.

However, Merrell said the discussion on who that replacement will be has yet to begin.

“We have really not had much time to think about that process yet,” he said.

No matter who is chosen to replace him, Stapleton said he believes that person will be handed a county that is in good shape and headed in the right direction.

“I think Delaware County has nothing but good things in front of it,” he said. “I’m glad I live here. I really see it as a privilege I was able to serve.”

Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Delaware Gazette in Oct. 2014.