Fayette County Central Committee Chairman Jim Ward stands with the candidates to become Ohio’s 85th District Representative. From left to right, Steven Newman, Mike Meade, Eric LaMont Gregory, Martha Cooper, Lori Pritchard Hardin and Greg McKeever.
Lance Cranmer - Staff Writer 20 April 2012
Six of the candidates hoping to fill the open seat to represent Ohio's 85th District in the house of representatives spoke before the Fayette County Republican Central Committee Thursday night hoping to gain a bit of support in the final days before a new state rep is expected to be chosen.
"We were very impressed with all of them," said central committee chairman Jim Ward. "I was very pleased with the turnout. All the candidates would represent Fayette County well."
Of the candidates who spoke, half were from Ross County. They included attorney Steven Newman, business owner Mike Meade and former law enforcement officer Greg McKeever.
College professor Martha Cooper represented Fayette County along with physiologist Eric LaMont Gregory, who recently moved into Fayette County.
Attorney Lori Pritchard Hardin was the lone Pickaway County candidate.
Topics of the individual speeches ranged from jobs to drug enforcement to education and even environmental concerns.
Following the candidate presentations the Republican Central Committee members retired into executive session to discuss which candidates they supported most.
Committee members did not reveal if any one individual will get their full support, but Ward plans to take the feedback he received with him to the next Republican meeting Saturday in Chillicothe.
"Saturday we will assemble with the three county chairs (Fayette, Ross and Pickaway) and four state representatives and hopefully come to a conclusion and put this to bed with a new state representative," Ward said. "We will give our recommendation to the house and the speaker (William Batchelder). At that point in time he will give it his blessing or reject it."
It has been rumored that a decision on who will represent Ohio's 85th District - which will soon become Ohio's 92nd District thanks to redistricting - could come as early as Tuesday.
Rep. Matt Huffman (Lima), Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (Clarksville), Rep. Anne Gonzales (Westerville) and Rep. Bill Hayes (Harrison Township) have been announced as the representatives who will attend Saturday's meeting along with the individual county chairpersons.
"We have a number of extremely qualified candidates who have applied to fill the vacant House seat," Speaker Batchelder said in a statement released Thursday. "I am grateful to all who have applied and I know the panel members will do their due diligence to ensure that the best applicant becomes the newest member of the House Republican Caucus."