Butler County candidates, supporters prepare for months more until Election Day

The citizen leader of Hamilton’s Issue 1 street repair levy wishes voters had made their final decision on Tuesday, rather than in-person voting postponed until June 2, but he’s preparing to continue the campaign for the extra 78 days.

And Jennifer Gross, a Republican candidate for the 52nd Ohio House District seat, said she’s prepared for the next few months for the added campaign time for the Ohio primary.

Gross, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and nurse practitioner, said she “won’t stop fighting” as the Ohio primary moves into “overtime.”

Gross’ opponent, West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch, said DeWine “introduced a lot of chaos” by his administration postponing the election, “not only in the political process but also in the lives of Ohio residents trying to go about their daily activities.”

However, in this time of uncertainty and confusion, Welch is telling his constituents and supporters to “hope more, complain less.”

“Spend time with your family. You know the kids could be afraid, they could be scared. You’re their rock,” he said.

“We’re disappointed, but you’ve got to look at the big picture,” said Jack Whalen, the retired volunteer leader of the Issue 1 street levy effort. “The right thing was done, and you’ve got to deal with it.”

He praised Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton for taking action to protect the health of voters by not putting people into close contact with each other, potentially spreading the coronavirus that can be especially dangerous for seniors and people with some health issues. On the other hand, he isn’t sure whether the extra time will help or hurt the levy campaign.

If some of the people who would have voted Tuesday for the levy don’t end up voting in the election, that isn’t good, he said. He plans to discuss ideas with the levy committee and work to encourage people to vote either with absentee ballots or in advance.

Others had to consider how many funds they had left to continue any campaigning and information delivery to voters.

“I saved for two years to run this campaign … and I’ve never looked back,” said Gross, a combat veteran. Though she’s mostly self-funded, Gross said her campaign can financially absorb the additional campaign time.

Gross said she’ll continue to focus on her campaign, and promote why she’s qualified to represent the district.

“We won’t stop fighting,” Gross said. “Even with coronavirus and all the things going on, we need to remain calm, and we need to remain vigilant and kindhearted to each other.”

Gross said she’ll consider producing virtual town halls or take live questions via Facebook Live or produce some other type live event on other social media platforms. So will Democrat Kathy Wyenandt, a Liberty Twp. Democrat who’s waiting to find out her November opponent for the 4th Ohio Senate District.

“We are evaluating all of that,” said Wyenandt of how to stay in contact with voters. “Heath and safety is a top priority for everyone, of course. With in-person events out of the question for the time being, we certainly have to adjust.”

Wyenandt will face the winner of the 4th Ohio Senate Republican primary, which features West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong, and Ohio Reps. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.

“Am I disappointed?” Whalen asked. “My wife (Karen) is probably more disappointed. She figured there was an end. I figure it was the right thing to do — you’ve got to protect the people.”

Karen Whalen, instead, said she is “optimistic.”

The extra time does give levy proponents the opportunity to educate citizens on what is a very complicated issue with many nuances, Jack Whalen said. But that will be more difficult now, with social-separation precautions that prevent meetings for large discussions, he noted.

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