Clark County races, issue draw interest in presidential year

Contests for sheriff and commissioner, plus CTC school construction request, drive interest in primary election

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

In a presidential election year, local races and issues rarely grab more attention from voters, but that is the case for the 2024 primary election in Ohio.

Democrats and Republicans in other states already have given President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump the delegates needed for a rematch of 2020, but local voters on Tuesday will decide key Statehouse races, plus two hotly contested county races and one countywide issue.

Polls will be open for in-person voting from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Republicans will determine which of two candidates will be their nominee for Clark County sheriff.

Incumbent Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett will face off against former sheriff’s office Major Chris Clark, who also is the Madison Twp. Fire and EMS chief.

Four people want to be the Republican nominee for a contested county commission seat. Charlie Patterson, retired Clark County Health commissioner; Dave Marshall, local teacher and former campaign worker; Matt Quesenberry, local project manager for a construction engineering company; and William Lindsey, New Carlisle City Council member, are all seeking to fill the seat that will be vacated at the end of Clark County Commissioner Lowell McGlothin’s term.

In the lone countywide ballot issue, the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center is asking for a 1.4-mill levy that would fund the local cost to build a nearly $90 million new facility with the state contributing 62% of the base $63 million building cost.

County sheriff

Clark served in the sheriff’s office in various roles from 1997 until early last year. He started as a dispatcher, then worked his way from deputy to major who often provided public briefings on incidents for the sheriff’s office.

After becoming a deputy, Clark worked his way up to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, then to major. In 2011 he received the Ohio Distinguished Law Enforcement Valor Award from then-Attorney General Mike DeWine

In his 26 years at the sheriff’s office, he received various honors, including a homicide apprehension award, Meritorious Service awards and the Sheriff’s Award. Clark was in charge of training and education of deputies and the community, including active shooter training.

Clark has been with the Madison Twp. Fire Department for 32 years, serving as its chief for almost 17 years.

Just after the combined dispatch center opened last year, Burchett fired Clark from the sheriff’s office, saying in a letter the News-Sun obtained using public records laws and saying Clark was “terminated because I have lost trust in you as my fiduciary.”

Clark said he believes it was due to his intentions to run for sheriff once she no longer served in that role. He decided to go ahead and run against her after being fired.

Burchett has been sheriff since 2017; she defeated longtime Democrat Sheriff Gene Kelly in a year Republicans swept the county in November 2016. She is the county’s first female sheriff.

The sheriff has worked in “every division” of the sheriff’s office, she said previously, starting in the jail, becoming a school resource officer, serving on road patrol, then being promoted to the detective section.

She received numerous awards at the sheriff’s office, including the Meritorious Service award and the exceptional service award, homicide apprehension award and Sheriff’s Award. She was the first female in the county to be promoted to sergeant over the detective division.

Burchett is currently on the Municipal Court drugs and criminal justice board.

The primary winner will not face an opponent in the November general election.

County commissioner

Patterson has held positions in multiple counties, been involved with the state and testified in front of Congress in his health commissioner role, from which he retired after 23 years in the role in January.

He previously served almost 10 years at the Ohio Department of Health and more than a year at another health department.

Quesenberry, a project manager and Kenton Ridge graduate, said previously that while he has never served in office, he has a lot of experience dealing with budgets, contracts, government and people.

Quesenberry said he decided to run because he wants to effect change and not be someone who “complains and not try to do something about” an issue.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Lindsey is a New Carlisle City Council member on his second term, previously serving as the vice mayor for the city.

Lindsey was also elected to be the central committee chairperson of the Clark County Republican Party.

His leadership was disputed last year, when party members voted to remove him and another party leader and install a new team. There are now two groups in the county operating on behalf of Clark County Republicans.

Marshall has worked on state campaigns and been involved in several levels of government, qualities he previously said give him a leg up on other candidates. He said this has given him “some really great contacts” to whom he can reach out and bring opportunities to Clark County.

CTC levy

The CTC levy previously failed in November and must pass this time around in order to be granted funds from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).

The cost of the entire project is expected to be $89,528,662. The total includes the OFCC contribution of 62%, or about $38.7 million, and CTC’s share of about 38%, or $24.5 million, for the base part of the new building. The levy would raise an additional $26.2 million for items CTC identified as a need, bringing its total to about $50.7 million, including ongoing maintenance funds.

The OFCC provides a portion of state funding for school construction projects that meet its requirements. Approval for the project was given in August 2023, and CTC has 13 months, until September, to come up with its share of the money in order to be granted the state’s portion.

The CTC has roughly a 60-year-old campus, among the oldest in the state. It wants to replace its seven existing buildings at 1901 Selma Road with a single, up-to-date facility that would include additional classroom facilities, equipment, furnishings and site improvements needed for additional enrollment.

The current campus is a little more than 182,000 square feet, and a new facility will add 29,000 square feet, giving them closer to 210,000 square feet. The school currently has nearly 800 students, but turned away more than 700 students between 2013 and 2023 due to the lack of space. That additional space is one of the reasons CTC sought the additional levy money.

The new facility would be built on the current property, south of the administrative building, and far enough away from the existing structures that it wouldn’t interrupt school while it was being built.

Last November, the levy failed with 55.36% (21,684 people) against it and 44.64% (17,488 people) for it.

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