Chagrin Valley Times
June 6, 2019
Some local Geauga County Republicans are upset, others are outraged and still others are content. The selection last week of Chester Township resident Diane Grendell to fill the vacant House of Representatives District 76 seat has evoked a range of reactions.
The criticisms center on disruption of and apparent disrespect for the process.
The House seat was vacated at the end of April by Sarah LaTourette of Chester Township after she was appointed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine as the new executive director of the Ohio Family and Children First agency.
Geauga Republican Party members believed that, as in the past, a specific process would be followed.That process would start with local party members asking interested candidates to fill out a questionnaire and submit it along with a letter of interest and a resume. This call for candidates was publically announced. The information obtained was shared with Geauga party members as well as the Ohio House Scanning Panel in Columbus. Though Ohio law puts the final replacement decision in the hands of the House caucus, the local recommendation in the past has been given careful consideration.
The candidates were then invited to meet in person with the Geauga Republican Party’s central and executive committee members. After that, a paper ballot was taken. Geauga party members selected South Russell Village Councilman Dennis Galicki as the candidate they would recommend to the Ohio Republican House caucus. Others who submitted resumes and participated in the process locally were former Geauga County Commissioner Walter “Skip” Claypool, Geauga County Recorder Sharon Gingerich and former Russell Township trustee Kristina Port.
One person on the periphery was Diane Grendell.
Nancy McArthur, who heads the Geauga Republican Party, said she called Mrs. Grendell requesting the information upon hearing that she was interested in the seat. Mrs. Grendell did email a letter of interest and a resume, but she did not attend the Geauga face-to-face session due to a conflicting engagement. Mrs. Grendell said she was not invited to the Geauga meet and greet; Mrs. McArthur said she was.
Meanwhile, the Columbus caucus moved up their interviewing schedule at the last minute,forcing interested candidates to rush to the state capital the day after Memorial Day for interviews.
On the ride home from Columbus, Mrs. Grendell said she received a call from House Speaker Larry Householder that she got the job with a unanimous House panel decision.
Mrs. Grendell is no stranger to Columbus or politics. She served as a state representative for District 68 from 1992 to 2000. She then was elected to the Ohio Eleventh District Court of Appeals, serving for 18 years. There is no doubt that Mrs. Grendell, 74, has extensive experience.
But she also has very close ties to Speaker Householder, R-Glenford, with whom she previously served in the House. Her husband, Timothy Grendell, who held a House seat as well, also served with Mr. Householder. (Mr. Grendell is now Geauga’s probate and juvenile judge.)
The connection between the speaker and the Grendells likely impacted the swiftness of the selection. Regardless of the timing, Mrs. Grendell probably would have been given the seat because of her ties to the House speaker.
But the disconnect between the local and state party and lack of respect for the selection process are concerning.
Mrs. McArthur said that actions like these are why people “hate crony politics” and are reluctant to run for public office.