The Franklin County Republican Central Committee announced Monday morning that it is endorsing four of the six GOP candidates in the May 5 Hilliard City Council partisan primary.

The Franklin County Republican Central Committee announced Monday morning that it is endorsing four of the six GOP candidates in the May 5 Hilliard City Council partisan primary.

The endorsed candidates are council president Brett Sciotto, incumbent council member Kelly McGivern and newcomers Jim Ashenhurst and Stephanie Kunze.

Challengers Doug Jackson and Heather Keck were not endorsed.

The candidates are vying for four open seats on Hilliard City Council. The top four will advance to the November general election where they will face Meagen Lynn Pandey, the lone Democrat to file.

The candidates were interviewed March 20 at the Hilliard Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library by a four-member committee made up of Sciotto (Ward 2), former council member Susan Bogan (Ward 3) and current council members Kim Allison (Ward 4) and Tim Roberts (Ward 1).

Sciotto said his decision to be involved in the candidate interviews was within the guidelines of the party and that he did not vote to endorse himself.

"I consulted with the party leadership and reviewed the rules governing the Central Committee before agreeing to participate in the screening process," he said. "I have been an elected member of the Central Committee since 2002 and wanted to ensure the process was done correctly in this situation and it was. I represent one of four votes. It takes 3 to be endorsed. Although not required, I abstained on my own endorsement."

Sciotto said he was pleased that the other three committee members voted to endorse him.

Sciotto said he, Kunze and McGivern were all unanimous choices of the committee and that Ashenhurst was named by three of the four committee members.

Bogan, who serves as vice president of Governing Dynamic, LLC, a Columbus-based company led by Sciotto, said the committee members were uniquely qualified to conduct the candidate interviews based on their past experience.

"Since all four Central Committee members have run successful campaigns for city council and we have all sat on city council, we bring a different perspective to the process than many Central Committee members," she said. "We fully understand the outside time, energy and demands that are asked of a candidate and a councilman in order to govern effectively for the citizens of Hilliard."

Bogan said the decision of the committee was based on who they felt were the best candidates.

"Collectively we felt the four candidates endorsed were best suited to represent our party and our community," she said. "This is not a popularity contest. We want to make sure our citizens have the best representation on city council as possible."

Ashenhurst said he welcomed the endorsement.

"Obviously, I'm pleased, and honored to have the endorsement of the Franklin County Republican Party," he said. "I believe that the endorsement affirms my long standing adherence to, and support of Republican values such as fiscal responsibility and limited government."

McGivern said she was happy to win her first party endorsement.

"I am honored to have been endorsed by the Franklin County Republican Central Committee." McGivern said. "The local organization provides an important opportunity for primary voters to be able to easily identify which candidates meet the values and beliefs the group supports and is a key indicator of the character and commitment of the endorsed candidates."
Kunze, a political newcomer, was excited to land the endorsement.

"As a lifelong Republican, I believe I share a common vision with my fellow citizens for the future of this wonderful community and it is reassuring to know that the Republican leadership supports and endorses my candidacy," she said.

Keck said she was not surprised that she did not win the party endorsement.

"Not being active in party politics, I knew it was unlikely that I would secure the party endorsement," she said. "Fortunately, Hilliard voters are very independent-minded and are able to judge candidates based on issues, experience, and investment in the community. As a local Hilliard business owner, prosecutor, and mother of two children in the school system, I am just thrilled and so appreciative of the folks who have decided to endorse me - friends, neighbors, customers, employees, businesses, and other business owners. My role on city council will be to serve every resident in the community and I look forward to earning more support and more endorsements over the coming weeks."

ThisWeek was unable to reach Jackson for comment.

Franklin County Republican Party Chairman Doug Preisse said he was comfortable with Sciotto being involved in the candidate interviews based on the fact that Sciotto abstained from voting on his own endorsement.

"It's not unusual because local central committee members are often current or past or future local officials," he said. "That's not uncommon. Our rules have long provided for the option if the local committee members choose to use it. From our observation they employed a fair and open process."