Republicans rolled to victory in local Clark County races and strengthened their hold on statewide positions in last Tuesday’s elections.
Republican incumbent Rick Lohnes was re-elected to the Board of Clark County Commissioners, stifling Democratic challenger David Herrier with a 61-39 margin. This win kept the 2-1 Republican commission majority intact.
The County Commission serves as the legislative and executive body of Clark County. The board is responsible for the county budget, levying county taxes, appropriating money for county activities, and permitting contracts for public works and services. The board also manages most county facilities and personnel.
In the Clark County Auditor’s race, Republican incumbent John Federer won his second race for auditor with 58 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic challenger Nikki Crawford.
The Auditor is the Chief Fiscal Officer of Clark County, and is responsible for the book-keeping of all elected county officials and most county agencies, in addition to paying the county agencies’ fiscal obligations. The Auditor also calculates property values and taxes within the county, as well as how much of the county’s tax revenue is allocated to particular townships, villages, cities and school districts.
Beyond Clark County, Republicans also dominated in elections for state offices.
In the race for the open seat representing the Springfield and Wittenberg area — the 79th District — in the Ohio House of Representatives, Republican Kyle Koehler, a 53-year-old Springfield businessman, defeated Democrat Darrell Jackson, a 53-year-old retired Clark County Sherriff’s deputy, in a 61-39 landslide.
“I was ecstatic,” said Wittenberg sophomore Naomi Santos, in reference to Koehler’s win.
Santos, a political science and economics double major, volunteered for the Koehler campaign from June 2013 until Election Day and said she is confident in Koehler’s leadership and decision-making skills, as well as in his abilities as a political representative.
“I know he will defend conservative principles and stand firm on a lot of issues that matter to me,” Santos explained. “[He has] also been willing to compromise with members of other parties when needed.”
Koehler’s victory exemplified a broader trend in last Tuesday’s elections for the Ohio House of Representatives, as Republicans gained five seats, pushing their majority to a record-high at 65 seats in the 99-seat chamber.
In addition to the Ohio House of Representatives, Republicans also reclaimed control over all other statewide positions, sweeping the governorship, state treasurer, state attorney general, state auditor and secretary of state, in addition to maintaining their super-majority in the State Senate.
While last Tuesday was a reaffirmation of the status quo in state and local races, Rob Baker, Wittenberg professor of political science who specializes in urban and local politics, said that the elections will still impact students.
“Local, county and state governments affect [people’s lives] most directly,” Baker said. “Even if students aren’t from Clark County, they still live here for four years, and these decisions made within these offices can affect their quality of life.”
Baker also stressed that though some local positions are non-partisan, many local and state offices do function in an ideological manner.
“Many of these offices [and officials] do operate based on philosophical views on the role of government,” Baker explained. “For students, participation in selecting those who fill these offices is critical.”