Primary 2024: Candidate Rebuttal Letters to the Editor
March 18, 2024 by Submitted

Campaign Season

Campaigning is sweet and sour.  I love meeting people across Geauga, from Bainbridge to Chardon to Middlefield, Chesterland,

Thompson and all places in between.

We have a diverse county that includes a large Amish community and I have supporters across the county. I put the Claypool signs out myself and I spent a lot of driving time.

My heart is warmed by all my supporters who wrote letters to the editors. Unfortunately, there are those who are misguided and simply want to spew hate. It is clear to the readers where you come from.

I want to correct the record on a couple of issues. First, an elected person or someone who sits on a board, has one vote. The Mental Health board has 14 members, and the Township Trustees has 3. Obviously, any action taken is by the majority.  In response to the slander aimed at me, actions taken by the boards were based on a clear case and it is a matter of public record.  Enough said.

Let’s talk about voting. My opponent and her husband want to divert away from a point I made about voting records. The claims about my voting record are wrong, but immaterial. It is an irrefutable fact I have voted for over 30 years as a Republican. That is a lifetime to me.

What is important is recent voting patterns. The 2008 primary was a turning point and makes a statement about a person’s values. Kennedy and Obama are not the same type D. My opponent voted for either Hillary or Obama and that is meaningful to Republican voters. She did not vote again at all until 2022 when she voted R (fact). That doesn’t make her a bad person, it simply provides a data point for Republican voters. I voted 10 times as an R in the same period (fact).

We are in a Republican primary and our voting patterns make a statement to Republicans about our beliefs and values. I believe a person should be proven before we turn over the keys to the castle.

Values lead to actions. I have limited space, so let me direct you to my website and a video that is the March 15 meeting of the Health Board in which the Lake agreement was voted on.  There are many red flags I can point to: lack of transparency, lack of respect for citizens and a vote on an agreement the board appeared to not read.

I am labeled a contrarian for asking questions. I ask you shouldn’t we ask questions to hold bureaucracy accountable? I was trained in my corporate life to ask questions. I was asked hard questions by my superiors. That is responsible behavior.

Endorsements by elected officials come with strings and expectations. Who will look out for citizens if questions aren’t asked?

Geauga County has a clear choice March 19.  One of us is a proven conservative with a proven record. I ask for your vote.

Walter “Skip” Claypool
Chester Township

Falsehoods and Flapjacks

With the March 19 primary election rapidly approaching, I am writing in response to several letters sent last week repeating false and misleading claims from my opponent. Sadly, this has been part of a broader effort to distract voters from important issues in this race for Geauga County Commissioner.

Throughout this campaign, Skip Claypool has made many silly accusations, even running a paid advertisement attacking pancakes and the people who love them. Perhaps you read Skip’s maple-flavored manifesto: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH… Political candidates should not be about pancake breakfasts.”

I never imagined my closing campaign remarks would be in response to anti-pancake propaganda, yet here we are. Despite his criticism, I promise to never waffle when it comes to Geauga’s pancake breakfasts.

In all seriousness, you can’t represent people if you don’t take the time to meet and listen to them. Across numerous pancake breakfasts (and other local events), it continues to be my joy to connect with residents, hear about the issues that concern them and see Geauga’s communities come together.

We can chuckle and move on from these unserious attacks from an unserious campaign, but not all my opponent’s words and actions can be similarly laughed off. Over the past two months, Geauga Public Health (GPH) and its dedicated staff have been subject to unprecedented harassment, impacting the department’s ability to function effectively.

I commend the professionalism and class of the Board of Health and GPH in the face of this onslaught. As the President of the Board, I am proud to stand with them, but regret knowing that this abuse stems from a dishonorable attempt to undermine my commissioner candidacy.

My opponent has initiated about a dozen resource-intensive public records requests to the department over the past few months. Bizarrely, this includes asking multiple times for the same document, which is publicly available on GPH’s website. GPH also received an anonymous public records request so broad the department had to shut down for an entire day just to fulfill elements of it.

When he’s not fighting against flapjacks, my opponent continues his scorched-earth attacks against GPH. This vitriol was echoed in last week’s letters to the editor, including baseless claims about Lake County’s influence and unfounded criticisms about GPH’s administrative role in the State of Ohio’s unfunded Operation & Maintenance (O&M) septic inspection mandate.

On that first point, Geauga County retains its local presence, services and sovereignty in its public health department. Although Geauga and Lake counties have an employee-sharing arrangement to cut bureaucratic waste (which is saving Geauga County well over a half million dollars per year), neither county’s employees or health board has any policy discretion over the other.

Regarding Ohio’s O&M septic inspection mandate, it is a state requirement that GPH must implement. If GPH does not, the State of Ohio will intervene and have a neighboring health department run the program. Ironically, that would result in the very loss of sovereignty that critics have falsely attributed as already being lost to Lake.

The Board of Health proactively eliminated GPH’s For Sale of Property (FSOP) septic inspection program, which was not compliant with looming Ohio O&M program mandates. In doing so, the Board has minimized the incoming burden of the state-mandated O&M program to the best of its ability.

Setting aside the deceitful attacks, Geauga Republicans have a clear choice ahead. Should we elect a constant contrarian railing against pancake breakfasts? Or should we elect a conservative professional with a proven track record of accomplishments and joyful engagement with the community?

On March 19, I request your vote to be Geauga’s next Republican nominee for County Commissioner. I will defend our freedoms and protect our paychecks, and I will never shy away from listening to your concerns over a stack of pancakes.

Carolyn Brakey
Russell Township

Ralph Spidalieri States the Truth

It has been troubling to watch the material that candidates have been mailing to voters this primary season. I received multiple campaign literature pieces from County Commissioner candidates, including ones from my opponent, who used the Ohio Republican Party’s name and branding to look like an official endorsement, when in reality, the party did not endorse them. The party only allows for candidates to use their postage indicia which helps them save on postage costs, not take that and falsely claim an endorsement in the process. False claims have been made about me by my opponent that I would like to address directly with you to set the record straight.

My opponent claims I raised taxes. The sales tax was raised by the State of Ohio in 2013 by 0.25%, not the Board of County Commissioners.

My opponent claims I miss meetings. Since my reelection, my attendance record has been over 90% at regularly scheduled meetings. (This includes the time I was out for major surgery in 2022)

My opponent claims my law enforcement position is not good for Geauga County. I ask you this question: Is safety a top prior- ity for you and your family? Who can better understand what makes our county safer and work with our first responders to ensure that Geauga remains a safe place to live and work than someone who has 30+ years of experience in law enforcement?

My opponent claims that being a small business owner is not good for Geauga County. Really? Who better to understand the challenges that small business owners face than someone who has been a small business owner for 25+ years? I understand the needs that businesses have, and use that experience to develop programs to assist in areas that are needed the most. In addition, I understand the importance of our businesses thriving as so many residents de- pend on jobs for their livelihood.

My opponent is making statements of FBI raids as if I was the target of the raid. The truth is a search warrant was served in the Water Resources department with an investigation involving an employee receiving a personal loan from a vendor that resulted in a misdemeanor charge that was a local charge, not federal. Once again stretching the truth and trying to create negative dialogue to create doubts in this race.

If my opponent is going lie during election season, what do you think they would do if they were elected to office? Over the past 12 years as your Commissioner, I have nev er failed Geauga County and will continue to fight for you for the next 4 years. I thank you for your trust and support.

Ralph Spidalieri
Munson Township