Dispelling misconceptions about the sheriff’s campaign

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In a letter to the editor of Friday, April 15, 2022, edition of The Daily Lawyer, Chris Hensley alleged that my original letter to the editor contained misrepresentations and/or lack of knowledge about Sheriff Whittaker’s campaign. I contacted Mr. Hensley to clarify and correct a number of these allegations, but there was no response.

Mr. Hensley’s first erroneous allegation concerned the members of the selection committee. After Sheriff Toby Spencer retired, the Darke County Republican Party was tasked with appointing a replacement for the position, per Ohio’s revised code. Because the party received two qualified resumes, a selection committee was set up consisting of five individuals who provided professional insight and perspective on the role of sheriff: Dick Stump, former County Sheriff’s Deputy Darke; Cindy Pike, Darke County Clerk; Carol Ginn, Darke County Auditor; Travis Fliehman, local attorney; and myself, chairman of the Darke County Republican Party.

We interviewed both candidates equally about experience, budget knowledge, and office goals. Mark Whittaker was unanimously favored as the strongest candidate, and elected members of the Darke County Republican Central Committee upheld that recommendation by another unanimous vote. This whole process, including the composition of the selection committee, was published in newspapers, social media and on the radio and could be easily searched. At no time, as he insinuates later, did any of the selection committee members know that there would be a contested primary election months later. Continuing, Mr. Hensley mentions that this nomination is only until May 3, another incorrect statement, as the general election for the office of Sheriff is not until November. The newly elected sheriff will take office in January 2023.

Mr. Hensley also argues that we cannot use the term “re-elect” because Sheriff Whittaker was nominated. If he would have taken the time to call the Ohio Election Commission, a bipartisan board that handles complaints about Ohio’s campaign laws, he would have quickly learned that is simply not the case. However, it is quite clear that Mr. Hensley does not want to be educated on any of this, otherwise he would have asked for it. Instead, he chooses to dismiss baseless allegations and hopes something sticks. His claim that my letter was meant to confuse you all is equally unfortunate, because Darke County voters are smarter than he thinks.

In short and in his own words, Mr Hensley’s complete lack of procedural, campaign and election knowledge is “absolutely unbelievable”. I hope this clears up any confusion and strengthens my support for Sheriff Mark Whittaker.

Katie DeLand

Chairman of the Darke County Republican Party

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