The two vacant council seats for the city of London have been filled.
The Madison County Republican Central Committee (MCRCC) convened at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Madison County Engineer’s Office to vote on the appointees for Ward 1 and Ward 3.
In random order and without the other applicants present, each of the prospective appointees was given the opportunity to present a resume and bio highlighting any strengths and assets that would benefit London council and the city as a whole.
They in turn were asked questions by four central committee members on the voting panel representing the various wards (or precincts) of the city. Those four voting members and their respective wards are: Mayor Patrick Closser of Ward 1A; Joshua Clifton of Ward 2; Bill Long of Ward 3; and Central Committee Chairman Nick Adkins, representing Ward 4.
Also present, but casting no vote, was MCRCC Vice-Chair, Marci Bogenrife.
All four candidates were asked by Closser what they intended to achieve or do upon first taking over the position, and what long-term plans they might have.
Andrew Hitt, the uncontested applicant for Ward 1 (thus winning the appointment by default), has been a resident of London for nine years, after transferring for his job as case manager of 34 years for Mental Health Services of Clark and Madison Counties. He has served on the Tree Commission for the past year.
Only three of the applicants for the Ward 3 position were in attendance at the special meeting: John Stahl, Amy Gammell-Gould, and David Anthony Smith.
Local pizza shop owner, Jeremy Collins was a no-show.
Stahl, who is a lifelong city resident, is semi-retired, but still manages to put in 15 hours a week at Ohio Processors. He presented a long resume of service dedicated to the city of London going all the way back to the ’70s. His list included everything from sitting on previous incarnations of council, penning the city’s motto, to picking the city flower. Out of over 350 city-related meetings throughout the years, Stahl has missed only two, he said.
Gammell-Gould, who was raised in London, brought to the table an impressive resume including a double degree from Otterbein and 18 years of increasing responsibility as a leader and coordinator in Nationwide Insurance IT and financial departments.
She said she did not have an agenda, but as a “big picture person,” desired to first learn the mechanics of the position and determine how her skill set would best fill any notable gaps in the current structure.
Smith has been living in London for five years (he thought), he said. His previous residence was in Hillsboro. He is currently a part-time pastor with Revive Baptist Church and a Service Advisor with Buckeye Ford.
He said that he wished to keep London a safe, close-knit, family-oriented community that directs children to a brighter future. London is small and charming, but he believes that the city has much growth potential.
He believed, but was uncertain, that Ward 3 was the economically poorest ward in the city.
Smith also mentioned trash littering the streets of the ward multiple times.
After deliberating in executive session for some time, the committee announced Smith as the winner for appointee of councilman Ward 3.
Clifton, Long, and Adkins named Smith as their choice.
Closser abstained from naming his.
Adkins and Closser both thanked everyone for coming out.
“I think it was a very difficult decision for everyone because everybody had their own set of skills that would really benefit London. We need good people like you guys,” Closser said.
On the heels of the special meeting, the MCRCC held its regular monthly meeting.
A sizable crowd ushered in to vote on the party’s endorsements for candidates of a variety of elected positions — most notably for the spot that will need filled upon the retirement of current County Commissioner David Dhume.
The process was much like the one that had just occurred in appointing the new council members for London, only on a larger scale.
Applicants for county races were given an opportunity to present before the committee.
MCRCC members in attendance then cast by secret ballot a single vote for a candidate seeking the party’s endorsement for the various elected positions on that ballot.
To be successful in winning the party endorsement, an applicant has to receive more than half of the votes of the combined total of votes cast. As there were 38 MCRCC members in attendance and voting, the successful applicant would need to pull in at least 20 individual votes to win the endorsement.
The four applicants seeking endorsement for county commissioner were: Mike Boerger, Jesse Bobo, Chris Wallace, and Tony Xenikis.
Xenikis won the lion’s share of votes and the endorsement, netting five more than the requisite 20 with a total of 25.
As with most things political, some controversy could not be avoided.
It was brought to the attention of the central committee that Boerger had been posting offensive material on his Facebook page — with words like “racist” and “sexist” attributed to the posts.
Printouts of the material taken directly from his page were distributed for the committee to discuss.
Boerger managed to muster only a single vote out of the 38.
Bobo fared no better, as he also scraped together a solitary vote.
Wallace came in at a distant second place.
MCRCC Chairman Nick Adkins was pleased with the outcome of the vote.
“Although all four made good presentations, the committee selected the person to best represent Madison County,” he said.
Members of the committee also endorsed Republican candidates on the state and national levels including Mike DeWine for Governor; Dave Yost for Attorney General; Mike Gibbons for U.S. Senate; and Steve Stivers for U.S. Congressman.
Also, London Mayor Pat Closser announced his resignation as MCRCC representative for Ward 1A, as he is in the process of moving to Ward 4, disqualifying him from retaining the current position.
Reach Andrew Garrett at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616.
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