Commission candidates comment on postponed election

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Ohio’s Primary Election was postponed to a yet undecided date, though June 2 has been suggested.

Ohio lawmakers are set to meet in the coming weeks to set a date for the delayed primary.

At the county level, this decision affected the Preble County Commissioners’ race, which has Adam Craft running against incumbent Denise Robertson and Rachael Vonderhaar against incumbent Chris Day.

Both Robertson and Day believe this action to postpone the primary was done at the “11th hour,” creating confusion and chaos. While voter safety may have been the deciding factor behind the action, both incumbents believe it should have gone through proper channels.

“I understand doing it for public health and I don’t have a problem with that. I think where the issues and confusion is that we were told by the Secretary of State a few days earlier elections would go on as normal, so everyone was going on as planned. Coming in on the 11th hour, as they did, really threw a wrench in things for everybody,” Day said.

“From the candidate side — not so much the local level, but when you go to the higher level — it cost those folks a lot of money and now they’re going to have to go through this process again and they don’t know when. They’ve tentatively set a date out, but the legislature is the only one who can change that date.

“Some of the things done procedurally weren’t done in the correct manner. I understand doing it, [but] they should have thought of it the previously week and put plans in place. It would have looked a lot better.”

Robertson ultimately believes postponing the election was the right decision, however, she believes the way it was handled created a lot of uncertainty for voters and candidates alike.

“I was upset at first, just because of the chaos it created. All the voting equipment was already out, we’ve spent the money to get everything in place and then it was cancelled. Just the drama it created with the Board of Elections and other candidates, people calling and texting me,” she said.

“The uncertainty was upsetting. I really do think if this was even in the realm of possibilities, it should have happened when they closed the schools, so this 11th hour thing and panic would not have happened. I wish it had gone down differently, but now that it is passed, I’m glad they postponed it. Mostly because, people are afraid and that would affect voter turnout.

“Now, the governor and his health secretary had no authority to do that. I do wish they would have done that the legal way, which is through the legislators. If this had been on their radar, I wish they would have went though the legislator, which would have given us advanced notice.”

Vonderhaar believes it was the right action to take, for voter safety. She also called attention to the leadership in Preble County and proactive leadership versus reactive leadership.

“I’m thankful for the guidance of Governor DeWine and his foresight in planning for our State to try and control the outbreak of COVID-19 as well as he had. I understand he was doing what was best for the state, along with Dr. Amy Acton. I appreciate them being proactive, instead of reactive as leaders. We need more of that,” she said.

“I want voters of Preble County to use the measurement Governor DeWine, Secretary Frank LaRose, and Dr. Amy Acton in how they were proactive instead of reactive and think of that leadership style. That is what I am offering to Preble County.

“Every generation has their big calamity that happens and this is ours. How we behave now is reflective to who we are as a community. We need to reach out and care for each other, while social distancing at the same time. That means being supportive of our leaders as they keep us all safe and make sure we’re fed.”

Craft also believes it was the right decision to make and stresses that it is paramount that everyone helps one another and is safe during this uncertain time.

“I feel like the Governor made the right call. The safety and security of Ohioans is the most important thing right now. We have to get through this before we can figure out what our next move should be. I think we should err on the side of caution,” he said.

“I am praying for each and every person in Preble County and I’m praying for our state and leaders. I hope we can come through this quickly and with as little loss of life and health as possible. We will get through this and we will come out stronger and better.

“Everybody needs to work together in the community, even though we can’t physically come together. Let’s all come together emotionally and pray for one another, be patient with one another, and get this thing behind us.”

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH