BOTKINS — Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart, of Jackson Center, was named the Shelby County Republican of the Year during the annual Lincoln Day dinner event here, Thursday, April 5.
Local Republicans also heard from a state office candidate and Congressman Jim Jordan.
A crowd of approximately 100 people gathered at The Palazzo in Botkins for the Republican party fundraiser. Candidates and office holders alike were introduced as the event began.
Executive Chairman Julie Ehemann, of Anna, spoke of the local and state candidates, stating their strength and what she feels is most important in leaders. She urged the crowd to consider the candidates’ honesty, future vision, competence, inspiration and intelligence. She added candidates should have courage, tenacity and patience.
Ehemann spoke of past and current officeholders, stating these traits during their time in office. She spoke of great leaders having significant mentors in their lives to motivate such behavior in candidates.
Her time at the podium soon led to introducing Lenhart as the party’s recognized star.
“In 1976, as a younger Shelby County sheriff, he initiated the first and oldest rural crime watch program in the nation, the Shelby Eyes and Ears program. He established the first Victim of Crime unit and the first school-based DARE program in Ohio. When the county needed a new jail in the late 1980s, he was instrumental in helping get a tax levy passed for its construction,” she said, in part.
Ehemann spoke of Lenhart’s developing his speaking and leadership abilities through his experiences in FFA, and he was noted for reinstating the Jackson Center chapter.
During his first tenure in office, Lenhart served 15 1/2 years, from 1976 to 1991. He also graduated from the FBI Academy during his service and headed up the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association. Under Lenhart, law enforcement introduced the 911 system with the tax levy’s being passed for construction of a new jail.
He later left the sheriff’s office to serve as the superintendent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Identification. In October 2011, Lenhart was appointed interim Shelby County Sheriff, replacing a legally-embattled Dean Kimpel. He was elected sheriff when the interim term expired in 2012.
Ehemann praised his tenacity to protect the all citizens of Shelby County.
“As he (Lenhart) was attending training as the ‘oldest new sheriff’ in Ohio, the Sandy Hook tragedy took place (Dec. 14, 2012). He came home with a resolve to make sure such an incident wouldn’t take place in his community. Within days, Sheriff Lenhart had met with Sidney schools (now countywide) and had them on board to institute school safety officers,” Ehemann said.
Lenhart thanked the Republican party for giving him the opportunity to serve again as sheriff, praising many of his support staff to help achieve positive results.
After the meeting, Lenhart said he strives to remain politically active in efforts to provide safety for the residents. He said his goal is to continue to have a strong, positive force in carrying out his office.
The guest speaker was State Rep. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson, Dist. 27)) who is running for secretary of state. He will be opposed in November by Democrat State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent, Dist. 75).
LaRose spoke on how he felt Democratic voters were viewing the Republicans. He claimed Democrats do not expect Republicans to go to the polls in 2020 and that a “Blue wave (presidential election maps) is coming their way” in the next presidential election.
The 38-year-old LaRose said he got a very different view of public voting while in the Army. He said he was in Kosovo and Iraq when those people voted publicly for the first time in their history.
He told of voting locations being located atop large hills and other places that average citizens struggled to travel to on election day. LaRose said people had to dip their fingers in ink after they had voted to assure they didn’t vote a second time. Militant groups were threatening to cut their ink-covered fingers off because they had voted.
“People don’t like to be told what to do. The right to vote separates a citizen from just being a subject. When we vote here, it’s a peaceful, nonviolent way to overthrow the country, isn’t it? It’s easier to vote in this country than ever before,” LaRosa said in questioning why there are low voter turnouts, at times.
LaRosa said opposition groups are doing many things to assure a Trump defeat in Ohio in 2020. He explained that redrawing district territories throughout the state is their goal to sway more votes to Democrats.
He pointed out a woman’s being asked to leave earlier in the evening. She was a representative for George Soros, a billionaire who initiated the Secretary of State Project in 2006 to unseat Republicans as state officeholders. Considered a liberal activist group, supporters are publicly claiming an IRS loophole that allows considerable financial contributions for political candidates.
The woman arrived unannounced, taking a seat among the crowd after the event started. Prior to the speakers taking the stage, organizers told her that it was believed she was there to cause trouble. They said it was a private event and not open to the public. She was asked to leave. The woman exited the building without incident.
LaRose said she has appeared at some of his previous speaking engagements to shoot video of his speeches. He claimed sound bites would then be taken out of context and used in attack advertising.
Jordan (R-Urbana) was facing a tight schedule and spoke prior to the meal.
He praised the efforts of President Trump, saying that, “He is energized to do great things for our country,” in urging people to continue to support him.
Jordan said he was working on programs to create employment for able-bodied people receiving government benefits and commented that the situation with the FBI in Washington, D.C., has “extraordinary circumstances.”
Treasurer Aaron Heilers reported that the 200 Club efforts in 2017 totaled approximately $18,500, leading to $14,000 being paid out to support Republican candidates.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.