Incumbent state Rep. Dorothy Pelanda won the Republican primary in the Ohio House of Representatives 86th District by a relatively slim margin.
Pelanda was challenged in the Tuesday, May 6, primary by longtime Marysville City Councilman Dan Fogt, who was making his first run for state office.
The 86th District includes all of Union County and much of Marion County.
Combined unofficial election results from both counties show Pelanda garnered 4,476 total votes, or 55 percent, compared with 3,654, or 45 percent, for Fogt.
In Union County’s 42 precincts, Pelanda edged Fogt 51 percent to 49 percent. Pelanda received 1,966 votes, while Fogt got 1,870, according to unofficial results from the Union County Board of Elections.
In Marion County, where 73 precincts are in the 86th District, Pelanda won 58 percent to 42 percent, or 2,510 to 1,784 votes, according to unofficial results from that county’s board of elections.
“I’m very proud of my positive, issue-oriented campaign,” Pelanda said Wednesday. “My ground game was a winning strategy. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors since the second week of February. I think that is what carried me through the finish line.”
Pelanda raised $49,885.52 to Fogt’s $5,053, according to pre-primary campaign finance reports due April 24. Much of Pelanda’s funding came from major GOP contributors and political action committees.
The candidates disagreed openly on House Bill 5, a bill designed to simplify Ohio’s municipal income tax system, as well as the new Common Core educational standards.
Fogt dealt with challenges early in his campaign when the political director of the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission in early February about business cards that said “Dan Fogt State Representative” instead of “Dan Fogt for State Representative.”
The complaint charged that not including the word “for” made it look as if Fogt was currently serving in the office.
Fogt reached a settlement before his hearing with the full commission, but he still feels the complaint was uncalled for.
“It was a silly thing to do. I’ve heard some comments on (Pelanda’s) side saying it was my fault. I admitted my mistake from day one,” Fogt said. “But it didn’t have to go through the Ohio Elections Commission.”
Pelanda, 58, graduated from Marysville High School in 1974, Miami University in 1978 and the University of Akron School of Law in 1981.
She spent 31 years practicing domestic relations law and was a partner in the law firm of Liggett-Pelanda Co.
In July 2011, she was appointed to replace state Rep. David Burke, who was tapped to fill the seat of state Sen. Karen Gillmor after Gillmor resigned. Pelanda was elected to her first full term in November 2012.
“As a state representative with a two-year term, I never really stopped knocking on doors. And knocking on doors and talking to my constituents is the most important thing I can do for them as their legislator,” Pelanda said. “Getting to know them and their concerns makes me the best representative for them.”
Fogt, 63, graduated from Anna High School in Shelby County in 1968 and received a bachelor of science degree in agronomy from Purdue University in 1972.
After graduation, Fogt worked in agribusiness, selling fertilizer to farmers for 15 years. After two years running a consulting business, he went to work in the chemical plant at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. He retired in December 2011 after 22 years on the job.
Fogt said he is disappointed with the outcome of the election.
“I hope the press and the citizens follow the money. We have a very corrupt government in Columbus,” he said. “I don’t care what party it is. It’s sad to say.
“My own party hired a fancy, high-priced lawyer against me. I’m just terribly disappointed in the whole system,” Fogt said. “It’s almost impossible for an honest, hard-working, medium-income person to get elected. You have to be a person of wealth and high influence to get in. That’s not the way the American system was created to be.”
Pelanda, who is seeking her second full term in the Ohio House, will face Democrat John Babik in the Nov. 4 general election.
“The focus up to this point has been the primary election. We look now to the future to preparing a winning campaign in November,” she said.