Letters to the Editor
June 10, 2019 by Submitted

Householder Tramples Geauga County

After Rep. Sarah LaTourette announced in April that she was resigning from her Ohio House seat, voters in the 76th District (primarily Geauga County) got a rude lesson in dysfunctional and highhanded politics.

The Statehouse leadership retains the right to appoint a new member to any vacancy from a pool of applicants. This fact is not in dispute.

The Executive and Central Committees of the local GOP are required to submit a recommendation to the House selection committee. This makes sense, given that the whoever occupies the seat must represent the local concerns and interests of the district’s electorate. While the recommendation is not technically binding upon House members, the consultative process is meant to preserve continuity between the grassroots and state leadership.

In May, the local GOP did exactly that. Throughout the month, county GOP leaders hosted the candidates for a series of meetings, including a meet-and-greet and later a formal assembly where a selection vote was held. Candidates were required to fill out a questionnaire and submit themselves to a Q&A from the attendees.

Ultimately, four candidates presented themselves for consideration: Walter “Skip” Claypool, Dennis Galicki, Sharon Gingerich and Kristina Port. In a single round of voting, a clear majority selected former naval officer and South Russell Village Councilman Dennis Galicki as their choice for the seat.

Speaker Householder and the House committee ignored all of this. In a flagrant display of arrogant disregard, Householder selected someone who did not fill out a questionnaire, did not appear before voters and never made public her intention to take the seat: Judge Diane Grendell.

Adding insult to injury, Householder later claimed that he did not know that Judge Grendell had not appeared before county leadership, despite having been sent the full voting record from their meeting.

In a flurry of eleventh-hour schemes, candidate interviews in Columbus were hastily moved up to the day after Memorial Day. Within 24 hours (and before most local residents were even aware of what had happened), Judge Grendell, an ally of Householder, was quickly sworn in as the new 76th District Representative and immediately voted for House Bill 6.

In cases such as this, where the people speak so clearly about something as personal as representation, if the leadership can reasonably honor their wishes, they should. Instead, Speaker Householder has set off needless party infighting and sowed further distrust of and cynicism toward government.

What is the point of interviewing and recommending a candidate if someone with close connections to the political elite can trump grassroots democracy and snatch power from the hands of the people?

This is bad leadership. It tells local voters, not just of the 76th District, but across Ohio, that they are expected to shut up, shrug their shoulders and move on when outside interests overrule their voices.

Householder’s behavior is fit for feudalism and serfs, not democracy and citizens. What happened to the 76th District is a divisive and demoralizing blow to anyone who believes that good faith and transparency have a role to play in government.

Shanley & Dane Davis
Bainbridge Township

 Editor’s Note: Shanley Davis is an Executive Committee member of the Geauga County GOP.

Best Qualified, Most Experienced

The process for filling the 76th Ohio House District seat vacated by Sarah LaTourette has been reported inaccurately.

The local political party executive committee does not select the person to fill a vacant Ohio House seat. The members of the Ohio House have that exclusive authority.

Article II, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution, in pertinent part, states:

“A vacancy in the Senate or in the House of Representatives for any cause, including the failure of a member-elect to qualify for office, shall be filled by election by the members of the Senate or members of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, who are affiliated with the same political party as the person last elected by the electors to the seat which has become vacant.”

No provision in the Ohio Constitution or Ohio law gives input or recommendation to the local political party or its chair and no such input or recommendation was requested by the Republicans in the Ohio House before exercising their constitutional authority to fill Sarah LaTourette’s vacant House seat.

As much as the Geauga County Republican party chairwoman tries to usurp the constitutional authority of the Ohio House and contravene the Ohio Constitution, the Speaker of the Ohio House, Larry Householder, and the Republicans in the Ohio House correctly followed the process mandated by the Ohio Constitution.

The Ohio House screening committee unanimously recommended Diane after interviewing her and the other candidates. The Republican members of the House voted unanimously (58-0) for

Diane V. Grendell to fill the vacant 76th Ohio House seat because she was the best qualified and most experienced candidate for the position.

Timothy J. Grendell
Chester Township

Dear Illuminating Company

I understand that occasional power outages are a fact of life. Growing up in a heavily wooded area of Northeast Ohio, we lost power once or twice a year, usually for under an hour.

However, since my family moved to Bainbridge just nine months ago, we have lost power on at least 10 occasions — usually for hours on end.

Here in Geauga County, both harsh winter weather conditions and periodic summer storms are fairly predictable. I would have thought that our power company — on which we are completely dependent for heat and air conditioning, among other things — would be better equipped to handle most fluctuations, but it seems that every storm or anomaly results in a power loss.

Most recently, my home completely lost power for over two hours during a moderate afternoon rain shower. If this were an isolated instance, I would chalk it up as a fluke. Sadly, it is just the latest example from a disappointing track record.

Under different circumstances, I might have simply shrugged and ridden out the outages, but I, like many of your customers, have an infant who is not so hardy. He cannot hunker down under a pile of blankets when his nursery becomes an ice box in midwinter or sweat it out if the temperature spikes at the height of summer, or twiddle his thumbs in the dark while we wait for the power to return. (Fellow parents may further sympathize with my displeasure when I note that every outage immediately wakes a sleeping baby.)

Thousands of your other clients are elderly or ailing and rely just as much, if not more, on the consistent fulfillment of their basic needs. You have a duty to provide better service, regardless of the fact that we, your clients, have no choice but to rely on you whether or not you do your due diligence.

I suspect that the explanation for these continual outages lies in the quality of your infrastructure, but since no explanation for these constant service interruptions has been forthcoming, I can only speculate.

I sincerely hope that in moving to Bainbridge, we have not consigned ourselves to play utility roulette, wherein we cringe at every bout of inclement weather and wonder, ‘How long will the power go out this time?’

Shanley Davis
Bainbridge Township