MEDINA – State Rep. Steve Hambley’s announcement not to seek re-election to the Statehouse next year and instead run for county commissioner came as a stunning surprise to many around the county.
Among those shocked by Hambley’s decision was Pat Geissman, whose seat on the Medina County Board of Commissioners Hambley said he intends to run for.
Some speculated that Geissman might be ready to retire after serving as a commissioner since 1992, but the 79-year-old said that is not the case.
“I’ve never said anything about not running again,” she said. “I love my job and it gives my life purpose to help people.”
Hambley, 64, has represented the 69th district in the Ohio House for the past five years but before that served as a county commissioner alongside Geissman for 18 years. At times, the two were on opposite sides of issues such as the decision to revamp the county’s program for recycling trash, which Geissman opposed.
Both Geissman and Hambley have strong support among the electorate. Hambley received 69 percent of the vote in his last run for state representative and Geissman won 65 percent of the vote in her last re-election race in 2016.
“It’s going to be an interesting race,” Geissman said.
Bill Hutson’s term as county commissioner also runs out next year and he said he plans to seek re-election. No one has announced their intentions to challenge him yet, but the filing deadline for next year’s March primary election is not until December.
Sharon Ray, another former county commissioner, has reportedly expressed interest in running for Hambley’s seat in the Ohio House next year. She has served as a bailiff in Wadsworth Municipal Court since stepping down as county commissioner in 2010. She also served on the Medina County Board of Elections.
“Since 2020 has an early March primary election scheduled, I wanted to announce my decision not to run for another term at this time in order to give an opportunity for some quality candidates in the 69th District to consider running for this important position,” said Hambley.
Geissman believes it is bad form for a politician to challenge a member of his own party.
“I would never think to run against an incumbent in my own party as long as she hadn’t done anything wrong,” she said. “I’m proud of my record as county commissioner.”
Hambley said he chooses to run for county commissioner because he has retained a focus on local government while in Columbus and feels he can contribute to moving Medina County forward in the upcoming decade.
“My head and heart have always been here and I feel I still have a lot to contribute to the county,” he said.
Hambley said his choice is to run for the office of county commissioner not particularly against Geissman. He said he disagrees with Geissman’s opinion that an incumbent shouldn’t be challenged for re-election.
“I’ve faced primary challenges in the past,” Hambley said. “I think it’s fair to offer voters a choice.”