Parties choosing their candidates for the 2016 fall election in November –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Former Adams County Commissioner Stephen Caraway bid an emotional goodbye to his friends and colleagues at a reception held Monday Aug. 8 in the Commissioner’s office on Courthouse Square. Caraway resigned as Commissioner to accept a position with Ohio Governor John Kasich’s administration.
“It was a tremendous honor to serve as County Commissioner,” Caraway said. “I was so humbled by the many friends and family that stopped by the office to wish me well, I am blessed to have them in my life.”
Caraway’s fellow Commissioner, Paul Worley told those assembled for the event, ”Stephen has dedicated his whole career to working in politics from local races to congressional races, even serving in Washington DC for us,” he said. “He wanted to bring his experience and expertise back to Adams County, and the thing I’ll take away most is the friendship Stephen and I have had while working in a bi-partisan manner, which is the way it’s supposed to work. It’s not a question of Democrat or Republican, it’s about taking care of the people who live in Adams County.”
Less than a week later both the Democratic and Republican parties in Adams County announced the candidates they’d chosen to run for Caraway’s vacated seat.
In an unusual turn of events, the Republican Central/Executive Committee has asked Commissioner Brian Baldridge to run for Caraway’s seat in the Jan. 3 term. According to a Republican insider, choosing Baldridge gives the party adequate time to review and vet the 11 applicants seeking appointment to the Commissioner’s seat.
Baldridge currently holds the January 1 term on the County Commission which expires 12/31/2018.
“This is a responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Bill Foster, Chairman of the Central Committee in a press release. “One week simply wasn’t enough time for our members to properly vet and consider the applications of 11 very qualified candidates.”
The Adams County Democratic Joint Central and Executive Committee met on Thursday, Aug. 11 and voted unanimously to appoint Richard M. Dryden as the Democratic Candidate for the January 3 term for County Commissioner. Dryden and his wife Tanja, operate a farm in Tiffin Twp and are the parents of one daughter. The Dryden’s ran a dairy until 2013. He has served as a Tiffin Township Trustee for 10 years.
Dryden’s appointment was made according to stipulations in the Ohio Revised Code which gives any other major political party the legal right to appoint a candidate after the withdrawal of a candidate after the Primary, but prior to the General Election.
According to Linda Stepp, Chair of the Adams County Democratic Party, the statute is in place to prevent parties from running popular candidates in a Primary and then withdrawing to prevent a contested election.
Stepp indicated that the Democratic Party had a candidate recruitment committee that met in July 2015 to consider candidates to run for county offices.
“At that time, we believed Stephen Caraway was a popular Commissioner working to serve the people of Adams County and we did not choose a candidate to challenge him,” said Step. “However, his resignation and the statute made it an ‘open’ seat and the people deserve a choice.”
According to a Republican Party press release, the party chose Baldridge because of his experience, dedication, and leadership to the people of Adams County – and because he has a record of service to our community that is indisputable.
The Committee will meet in the coming days to further consider the applications for the appointment of the actual vacancy on the Board of Commissioners.