Delaware News

Lewis: Voters saw through bid to 'game system'

GOP primary victor bests current commissioner, second competitor


Genoa Township Trustee Barb Lewis said her win in the Delaware County board of commissioners' Republican primary was a win for supporters of a more-inclusive county GOP.

Final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections showed Lewis had 5,729 votes, or nearly 56 percent -- more than her two opponents combined. Commissioner Ken O'Brien had 2,876 votes, or 28 percent; Scioto Township business owner Mike Kelley gathered 1,641 votes, or 16 percent.

"People really want to see a more-vibrant, inclusive and forward-looking Republican Party in Delaware County," Lewis said of the results.

Lewis will go on to face Democrat Jacob Fathbruckner in November's general election. Fathbruckner ran unopposed in the Dem-ocratic primary.

The Republican primary was complicated by the unusual, perhaps unprecedented decision by a sitting commissioner to run for another seat more that two years before his existing term's expiration. O'Brien has said he was in the race because none of the other candidates had the necessary experience to effectively replace outgoing Commissioner Dennis Stapleton.

If O'Brien had gone on to win Stapleton's seat, the Delaware County Republican Central Committee would have selected a replacement to fill O'Brien's current term.

O'Brien's presence in the race caused consternation among his opponents and county GOP officials.

Kelley and Lewis both referred to the possibility of the Republican Central Committee, not voters, filling O'Brien's vacated seat as undemocratic.

"(Voters) saw him as a typical politician who was trying to game the system," Lewis said.

Robert Mann, Delaware County Republican Party chairman, asked O'Brien to withdraw from the primary in an April 17 letter.

Mann wrote that most voters he spoke with did not realize O'Brien would continue to serve as a commissioner for more than two years even if he lost the primary.

Mann said O'Brien's continued presence in the race could negatively affect public confidence in the electoral system.

O'Brien responded the same day with a letter calling for Mann's resignation for interfering with the primary, among other issues. O'Brien said Mann called for his withdrawal because Mann supported Lewis' candidacy.

If elected in November, Lewis said, she would have no problem working closely with O'Brien on the board of commissioners.

"I have always been able to work well with people," Lewis said. "I would expect that, certainly, our relationship will be civil and respectful."