A former CEO and president of Delaware County Bank is the county's newest commissioner.

A former CEO and president of Delaware County Bank is the county's newest commissioner.

The Delaware County Republican Party Central Committee voted Tuesday, Aug. 11, to appoint Jeffrey Benton to serve out the remainder of former Commissioner Ken O'Brien's term. O'Brien resigned at the end of June to avoid detrimental changes to his retirement benefits.

Benton, 62, was born and raised in Delaware and currently lives in Orange Township. He retired in 2010 after more than seven years leading the Delaware County Bank.

Although Benton has not held public office before, he said he thinks his financial background will be beneficial to the county.

"My knowledge of the county and business skills and relationships (should) far outweigh the lack of elected-office experience," he said.

Benton previously had been elected to the county GOP's central committee and served as campaign treasurer for U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township).

Benton said he's been friends with Commissioner Gary Merrell for about a decade and envisions a positive working relationship with him and Commissioner Barb Lewis. He said he thinks the board can avoid the type of infighting that occasionally has dogged county government in the past.

"I think we can work well together and focus on the issues rather than getting into some of the squabbles," he said.

Benton will join the board of commissioners shortly after it finalized two major decisions. The county approved a $30.4 million contract for construction of the Sawmill Parkway extension project and named a new economic development director in July.

Even with those big decisions behind the board, Benton said he expects to keep busy. He said county officials need to continue working on long-term planning for utilities and roadways, along with economic development.

"Growth creates what I call good challenges," he said.

Benton said he is excited to join Delaware County government during a period of continued growth.

"I think the county has so many great assets," he said. "We have a good team of countywide elected officials who are really competent and really care about the county."

While Benton's term expires at the end of 2016, he said he hopes to be elected to a full term next year.

"I fully intend to run. The primary isn't that far away," he said. "I've already done the background work to understand the legal side of forming a campaign."