Questions on Beech Brook

If Beech Brook was rezoned for mixed-use, Beech Brook would get their money and move on.

Axiom would make money and move on.

What would Pepper Pike get out of that deal? Yes, some revenue would be generated, but how much?

Realistically a mixed-use development would create new additional demands on the police, fire and service departments. How much of the new revenue would go to that? The development would create more traffic. How much of the new revenue would go to fixing that problem?

In the end, Pepper Pike would be stuck for years with something that many people don’t want, unlike Beech Brook and Axiom that got what they wanted. We’ll be looking at more cars and more buildings instead of tall mature trees that have been there for decades.

So I’m asking why is the mayor working so hard to facilitate the transaction between Beech Brook and Axiom? He’s granted delays and not answered questions. He denied expertsthe chance to speak at the town hall that was conveniently moved at the last minute.

My frustration is this: Why is a developer getting better treatment than the citizens?

Janice Leavitt

Pepper Pike

Reject Axiom proposal

I find the Axiom Development proposal for the Beech Brook property very disappointing. Axiom has yet to provide a layout with the number and types of structures, size and occupancies. Consequently, more careful and meaningful analysis of the proposal cannot be done.

One of the most serious issues is the heavy traffic situation at Lander Circle. Mr. Stone wants the citizens of Pepper Pike to pay for roadway improvements that are needed. If Mr. Stone wants his development, he should pay for the improvements. It has always been the standard in Pepper Pike.

When Snowberry was built, the developer not only constructed the street and installed improvements, he also built a sanitary waste water treatment plant for the sewage from the development. When La Avion was developed, the developer not only put in the roadways and improvements, he brought municipal water service down Brainard, and built a sanitary waste line under Interstate 271 to carry sanitary waste to the pump station on Cedar Road. When Sterling Lakes was developed, Forest City paid a portion of the cost to relocate Brainard Road so as to improve traffic flow. So, in keeping with tradition, Axiom should agree to pay the cost of improving traffic flow at Lander Circle and Chagrin Boulevard.

Axiom claims that there is a desperate need for more retail occupancies. Unfortunately, Landerwood shopping center currently has three vacant retail occupancies right now, along with available second floor offices. And the old Whole Foods store, a short distance away, has been vacant over one year. Space is available in Pinecrest. Why do we need more retail and office occupancies?

It seems to me that the Pepper Pike Council should look to rezone the property to the single family – one acre standard if any rezoning is to be done. If a gated community is desired, the standard used for Sterling Lakes would be ideal. The current outrageous proposal from Axiom should be soundly rejected.

Cleve Svetlik

Pepper Pike

It doesn’t make sense

One pleasant day in mid-November 2019, I placed a call to the City of Solon’s Recreation Department. My objective was to reserve a date for part of the pavilion in the city park, a Saturday or Sunday either in June or July. I was promptly informed to call after Feb. 1, 2020. (No reservations are taken prior to that date).

My need for the space was to hold my John Adams High School Class of 1958 summer picnic. Feb. 1 fell on a Saturday this year. The first business day of February 2020 at the Recreation Department would be Monday, Feb. 3. Early Monday morning, I called the Recreation Department to reserve a date for my class picnic, thinking that I would be first in line for making my reservation. I requested a Saturday in mid-June. I was first asked if I had an account with the department. No sense in searching for a date if I had no account. I have lived in Solon since I had my house built here in 1967. I have used the park pavilion, Timber Lake Park and the library numerous times. Proof of residency and a security deposit to cover any damage or clean-up costs was all that was needed with the Rec Dept. So far, all this has taken place over the phone, (the one that hangs on my wall and is connected to a wire).

Things have changed in recent times so rather than making a mess of things trying to create an account online, I grabbed my check book and I.D. and headed for the Rec Center. Three ladies were behind the counter chatting. “Can I help you?” was a polite greeting from one lady. I said, “Yes, I’m Joe Artale and I’m here trying to reserve a pavilion. Before we open an account, can we set a date for my event ?” Long story short, in the two plus hours since reservations opened up, every Saturday and Sunday date was filled for the entire year. I consulted with my life-long friend, class mate and partner in handling reunions, Len Russo. “How about a week day? Our class mates are now 80 years old and a day time date on a week day might be better.” Again, every date during the summer, Monday through Friday was booked between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. I am confused. Why was I not informed in November that there would not be anything available for a tax-paying citizen of Solon who has voted for every tax levy that comes along because it is good for my city and then find myself on the outside looking in? If the entire season was booked in the two-plus hours before I applied, the three ladies working there must have been very busy on the morning of Monday, Feb. 3.

The way the Solon Recreation Department handles reservations doesn’t make sense, and I am a sensible person.

Joseph S. Artale


Ralph Spidalieri for commissioner

It is only by experience that wisdom is gained to produce strong leadership that generates great results. Ralph Spidalieri is the only choice for the contested seat of Commissioner of Geauga County. His 20-plus years of successful business ownership has given him the skills required to turnaround the Board of Commissioners over the past eight years. He has created strategic alliances with other Geauga departments that have helped reduce red tape and create jobs in Geauga County. He has brought sound business leadership to his government role.

His team orientation has contributed greatly to eliminating the department’s $6 million deficit and producing the current $10 million surplus. Now Geauga County is prepared for the demands that the future may bring. When Ralph first became Commissioner he promised to reduce debt, and he has kept his promise!

Additionally, Ralph has over 30 years of law enforcement service. His commitment and heartfelt compassion for those who protect our communities led him to create Blue Line Unlimited where he serves as vice president. This nonprofit provides financial support, assistance and equipment to officers and their families. To date, the organization has raised over $150,000.

Ralph is a patriot committed to America’s founding documents, protecting the unborn and supporting America’s veterans and seniors. He is a lifelong Republican with conservative values. He is committed to give Geauga County the results-centered leadership that it deserves.

Linda J. O’Brien

Russell Township

Mullins for Geauga County Recorder

It has been a distinct honor to serve as Geauga County Recorder for the past 11-plus years. During that time, we began several new innovative programs that have benefitted our residents. Celesta Mullins, my chief deputy, has been instrumental in providing details, time and efforts toward these programs. Her 20 years of experience, her distinct knowledge and expertise uniquely qualifies her to be the next Geauga County Recorder.

Celesta is an active participant in the Good Deeds Program, Veterans ID Card Program, Ohio Historical Family Farm Program, eRecording and Property Fraud Alert. Her 20 years of experience negotiating vendor contracts, has saved the county thousands of dollars.

Celesta Mullins consistently and patiently works with people helping them understand the value of a professional title search and proper chain of title. Her vast knowledge of plat maps and subdivision details provides the most experienced qualifications.

Celesta has a unique eye for detail and found fraudulent activity which she provided to the FBI. Her vigilant focus has perpetually protected your most valuable asset; your land records.

Celesta Mullins’ interest in protecting your records branches out statewide as she serves on the Recorders Association’s Blockchain Committee, watching to make sure this technology does not make your records available nationwide in a central location.

Celesta has worked under four Geauga Recorders and combines each of their values and insights as part of her service.

Unfortunately, while serving as recorder, I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. During this difficult time, it was Celesta who stepped up to provide Geauga County a consistent quality public service while abiding by the over 1,000 sections of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC).

Celesta’s knowledge of the ORC keeps the Recorder’s Office compliant and legal. Celesta’s opponent states she will provide free copies and legal advice to residents. This is in direct violation of the ORC. Geauga County deserves Celesta Mullins as a compliant recorder.

Celesta truly cares about your recorder’s office and is the right woman for the job. Celesta’s concern is the accuracy and maintenance of your land documents and the privacy of your records

There is no substitute for experience. Celesta Mullins is the most qualified candidate to serve our residents. Celesta has my full, enthusiastic endorsement. Spread the word, she is a public servant who cares about the residents and who places service as her mission!

Sharon C. Gingerich

Burton Village

Grant hinges on levy passage

First of all, I would like to express sincere gratitude to all of the Russell residents who have fought so hard to save our open spaces and parks. Because of your efforts, we were able to stop the underhanded sale and development of our land that was initiated after Judge Timothy Grendell removed our trustworthy park board and replaced them with those willing to do his bidding.

We watched as we were repeatedly misled about their intentions with our parks. We listened while we were boldly lied to and told that the park board account did not have enough remaining funds to maintain our parks, when in reality there was plenty, over $125,000, to fund the parks for the next three years.  We took action and voted in a new, better and honest park board that Judge Grendell has absolutely no control over and is run exclusively by Russell residents and its trustees. 

March 17 is the final step to ensure that Russell stays green forever and a legacy for generations to come. Please vote yes for our 1-mill levy for the Russell Citizens Park board. And as a bonus, if the levy passes, we will be able to acquire a beautiful 64-acre property on Music Street that adjoins West Woods in which 3/4 of the purchase price is being paid for by a clean water grant. This large grant is entirely dependent on the passing of the levy, so I encourage everyone to get out there and vote yes to help ensure that our property values stay high and Russell stays green.

Sharmyn Clark

Chagrin Falls

When is enough, enough?

The twists and turns for Russell Township’s Issue 3 leaves voters in a quandary. To quote the skillful and passionate leader of Issue 3, who does not own property in Russell Township, “The controversy surrounding our township parks over the last couple of years has been difficult but the quarrels have ended.” This is all we asked and we achieved it. So why create a political circus? How is it cost-efficient and prudent for Russell taxpayers to have two park districts, with the same objectives, competing for the same tax dollars, with two separate taxing authorities taxing every owner twice for the same benefits?

In October 2017, beautiful brochures were mailed to property owners. The brochures stated that a yes vote for the establishment of a second park district, called the Russell Citizens Park District, meant no levy, no tax of any kind. The following month, the wording on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot to establish the Russell Citizens Park District did not meet Ohio ballot guidelines. It was designed to favor a “yes” vote. When I learned about it, I was told by the assistant to the Secretary of State that it was too late to correct the matter. With both types of promotions, Russell voters approved the establishment of the Russell Citizens Park District.

This year, Russell voters are being asked to vote for Issue 3, which is a five-year tax levy for the Russell Citizens Park District, that can total four figures. What will the next one cost? Yet, it was sold to voters as a “no levy” park district. Now, a vote for Issue 3 is being advertised as “a replacement levy” even though it absolutely replaces nothing. It is a new tax levy period.

Since 1984, for 36 years, Russell residents have been paying taxes to buy and maintain 430 acres belonging to the Russell Park District. How can we just abandon 430 pristine acres and all the money we invested? What will this do to our property values if the lovely picnic areas, trails, parking lots and structures cannot be maintained because we are now forced to choose between an established park district and a new one that can destroy the other? That is what will happen if taxpayers cannot support both districts. I just cannot see the value in opening a can of worms.

Since 1964, for 56 years, except for only two failed levies, Russell voters have paid thousands of dollars to the Geauga Park District for the benefits of 10,600 acres. How many wonderful acres can we enjoy, rightfully preserve, and at what cost in one lifetime? I am left to ponder when is enough, enough?

Eileen Marie

Russell Township

Better oversight needed

Last week’s newspapers had a very troubling article about the possible taking of funds by an attorney who was appointed guardian by the probate court and under its supervision. It seems that funds were taken from some of the most vulnerable people in our county.

How could this have happened? How could there have been so little oversight in the probate court of Judge Timothy Grendell that funds were misappropriated from multiple accounts? Shouldn’t the court have known and reported this situation to law enforcement?  Eventually estates of many of our friends or loved ones may come before the probate court. Geauga taxpayers have the right to expect better oversight from probate Judge Grendell.

Tony Festa

Russell Township

Re-elect Sheriff Hildenbrand

I am writing in support of Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand’s candidacy for Geauga County Sheriff. In my previous position as fire chief for Hambden and Concord Townships, I had many occasions to work closely with Scott. I have known Sheriff Hildenbrand for over 35 years, since he was 18 years old. I found him to be a caring, kind, effective, honest and trustworthy.

I have worked closely with Scott on numerous occasions. His “can do” attitude and willingness to collaborate closely with other agencies greatly enhances the safety of the citizens of Geauga County. The relationships of the numerous law enforcement and fire agencies in Geauga and Lake counties has never been better, and Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand is a large part of that successful collaboration. He works well with others in the solution of mutual problems, such as his ability to accomplish results without creating friction. He helped bring law enforcement and fire agencies together dealing with such things as dispatching, information sharing and radio communications; all vital to cooperative services.

The leadership and wisdom that come with rising through the ranks within the Chardon Police Department, the Hambden Fire Department and his 13 years as chief deputy with the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office is very beneficial because the sheriff’s office is unlike any law enforcement agency. As sheriff, Scott will understand the details of running a sheriff’s office. His management style appears to unite, rather than divide employees.

I was born in Chardon, raised in Chardon, graduated from Chardon High School in 1968, enlisted in the Army and served two tours in Vietnam, and returned to Chardon. I married my wife, a Cardinal 1970 graduate, raised two sons in Hambden Township, both graduates of Chardon High School. I joined the Hambden Volunteer Fire Department in January 1976, rose to the rank of fire chief until 1995, then moved to Concord Township and served as fire chief until January 2016. Geauga County was my home for 45 years.

I can think of no one better to continue to serve as the Geauga County Sheriff than Scott A. Hildenbrand. I urge everyone to vote for Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand in this primary election. A quote from Booker T. Washington about sums it up: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

R. Mike Warner

Concord Township

Holden for Geauga County sheriff

On March 17, the election of the Sheriff of Geauga County will be decided on the Republican primary ballot, as there will be no Democrat candidate on the November general election ballot.

As 25-year residents of Geauga County, we have observed the changes in our county leadership with interest. Some things have gotten better over the years; and some things have not. This year, our voters have the opportunity to significantly advance the effectiveness and professionalism of our county’s law enforcement systems by electing Jimmy Lee Holden to be our Sherriff.

We have respected Jimmy Lee for years and know him to be an honest, capable, committed and practical law enforcement professional. Jimmy Lee’s 35 years of policing experience – serving successfully in a diversity of roles and responsibilities – have equipped him very well to lead our county’s law enforcement operations. He has depth of experience in both tactical law enforcement and in training law enforcement professionals. He also brings compassionate leadership, with thoughtful attention to the challenges people face with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Jimmy Lee Holden is running for the office of Geauga County Sheriff because he sees clearly that we can significantly improve our county law enforcement effectiveness. His recommendations include improving how crimes are investigated and reported, eliminating inefficiencies and updating how the county jail is operated, creating a drug interdiction unit with local police departments and creating a mental health response team.

Without indulging the negative, it is pertinent to point out that our current sheriff, Scott Hildenbrand, is not a career law enforcement professional, and he has not been serving as our sheriff in a full-time capacity as he is also the Hambden fire chief. Under the current sheriff’s leadership, we have seen gaps in the training of our officers and the investigation of crimes. By electing Jimmy Lee Holden, we have the opportunity to bring more focused, experienced, and full-time policing leadership to Geauga County. It is time for a change for the better.

If you choose a Republican ballot for the March 17 primary, we encourage you to vote for Jimmy Lee Holden to be our next Geauga County Sheriff.

Marty and Mary Kay O’Toole

South Russell

Hildenbrand is the right choice

I am proud and honored to say I have known Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand for a very long time. He is the epitome of everything that makes our county great. I cannot think of a more sincere, honorable and hard-working individual who has dedicated his life to serving the people of Geauga County.

While I was the Geauga County Township Association president, I asked Scott to serve on the Township Association Kent State Geauga Scholarship Committee with me and six others. Together, we worked to provide a fully funded/endowed scholarship.

Scott is also a Rotary member and helps me out every year at the Special Needs Fishing event held at the Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve in May. The Rotary motto is: “Service Above Self.” And that’s what Scott is all about!

The Sheriff’s unwavering years of service continues to unite and ultimately strengthen our Geauga County safety force. We are Geauga Strong with Scott as our sheriff.

As a life-long Geauga County resident, he has made it his personal calling to serve our county. It is in everyone’s best interest that we keep Sheriff Hildenbrand as our respected sheriff!

A vote to keep Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand is the right choice.

Jim Dvorak


Claims are not accurate

I don’t like to get into a letter writing campaign in the local newspaper, but Judy Zamlen-Spots’ figures are so far off I feel I have to respond. After the thousands of pages of records requests she has received, I would have thought she would have been much more accurate. The jail was opened in 2005 and cost less than $15 million, not $30 million, as she stated. The jail alone has brought back to the county over $15 million since it opened, and the commissioners paid off the jail early in only nine years. The jail is inspected at least three times per year by state and federal jail inspectors, and they have never found a problem with the temperature in the jail. The average temperature in the Jail is 72 degrees, which is recorded and monitored every hour. It is usually warmer than my office. Yes, we do sell extra blankets. Yes, they are orange. They cost about $12 each, and the inmates take them home with them when they leave. Indigent inmates are given a blanket and any other supplies they need for free if they request one.

As reported to Ohio State Employment Relation Board each year, the sheriff’s office (in 2020) has 117 full-time and 32 part-time employees (many part-time are not paid), this number has been about the same for the past four years. Not the 170 employees that she stated.

The FOJ fund is about $34,000 each year and is audited by the county auditor and state auditor every year. In the last two years, over $20,000 was returned to the auditor as required by law at the end of the year. For the record, the sheriff’s office sponsored a two-week homicide class here in the county held at the library administration building. Because we sponsored the class, we got four seats for fee for our deputies that would have cost $1,500 each plus travel. The Manga charge was for lunch on two days during the training, the County Police Chiefs Association and the prosecutor’s office also purchased lunches on different days for the class. I hope this clears up the inaccuracies in the Orange Blanket story. If anyone has questions, feel free to call me anytime.

Scott A. Hildenbrand

Geauga County sheriff

Re-elect Judge Timothy Grendell

I strongly support the re-election of Judge Timothy Grendell for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court and will cast my vote for him in the March 17 Republican primary. Judge Grendell is a tough, but fair, judge who has the experience and proven record that Geauga County needs. Judge Grendell cares about this community and treats those who come before the Probate/Juvenile Court with fair-minded consideration. Judge Grendell is keenly aware of the drug issues that affect Geauga County families. The probate/juvenile judge is also tasked with appointing the three-member citizen board to govern the Geauga Park District, and Judge Grendell has placed a credible board. And Judge Grendell is a Republican.

There has been some necessary dialogue about the voting record of Matthew Rambo, who has entered the Republican primary as a challenger to Judge Grendell. Some say Mr. Rambo is a Democrat and some say he is a Republican. Others twist the issue by saying that judgeships are nonpartisan. The first undisputable fact is that the March 17 Republican primary is partisan and distinctly Republican. The second undisputable fact is that Matt Rambo ran for Geauga County Court of Common Pleas as a Democrat in 2018 and lost that election. Then, just after the 2018 election, Geauga Democrats in an announcement of an event to “reduce Matt Rambo’s campaign debt” placed this direct quote along with a photo of Matt Rambo on their website: “Matt Rambo is our candidate for Judge. Next Judgeship up is held by Tim Grendell. Geauga needs the dynamic energy and wisdom of Matt Rambo. Matt has agreed to be a candidate for Judge in Geauga County until elected. Next judge up for election is Tim Grendell.”

It is also well worth considering that challenger Matt Rambo has no experience in a probate and juvenile courtroom.

There have now been years of negative and public discourse against Judge Grendell by a supposedly environmentally-minded group who proport to love our county parks. The simmering anger of this citizen group was seemingly initiated because Judge Grendell necessarily replaced some park board members. These folks have some strange ideas about conservation, and their website is now awash with support for Matt Rambo. It would seem that this group is very political and would like to unnecessarily take over our parks by ousting Judge Grendell and putting Matt Rambo on the bench to appoint board members. The fact is that our lovely county park system is now under much better leadership, thanks to Judge Grendell, and our parks are quite successful both in conservation and in providing recreational opportunities for Geauga County families. I love Geauga parks.

If you are a true Republican, it is critical that you vote in the March 17 Republican primary. Please join me in supporting Judge Timothy Grendell.

Kathy Johnson

Chardon Township

Integrity matters

In response to the full-page ad in favor of Judge Timothy Grendell in the Times, you claim, based on Matt Rambo’s voting record that he is “not a real Republican and it is dishonest for him to claim to be one.” You’re attempting to delegitimize Matt Rambo’s campaign because he switched parties. Really? Does your line of reasoning also apply to President Donald Trump? He was a Democrat for years yet switched parties to run as a Republican. Being a Republican yourself, I’m assuming you voted for Trump. So, does it really matter to you if a candidate switches party affiliation, or are you just being petty?

In budget year 2018, the last available budget, it shows you spent over $1 million more than when you took office in 2011.

The mailers, “Geauga Court News,” cost more than $15,000 to produce. Five mailings have now been produced and mailed to every address in Geauga County. The total cost of these mailings will exceed $75,000. All paid for with public money.

I read in the paper that in June of 2019, you very publicly, (black robes and all), verbally berated a Chardon police officer.

In February 2015, you cited Nancy McArthur with contempt for a private email communication, according to news reports.

Your campaign signs declare “Experience Matters.” Experience may matter, but good judgment and integrity matters much more.

Betsy Kubbins


Support Rambo for judge

I am writing to urge every voter in Geauga County, regardless of which political party they have been associated with in the past, to request a Republican ballot and vote for Matthew Rambo in the race for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge. For Democratic Party voters, this means foregoing the chance to vote for your favorite candidate in the presidential primary. However, there are times when party affiliation must take a back seat to a moral imperative.

The race for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge has a real competitor for the first time since the day the current occupant of that office was appointed by Gov. Kasich. While national political races are obviously important, local judges have the ability to impact our daily lives in ways that are dramatic, immediate and potentially devastating.

For six years, the current judge has abused his office and frozen the public out of any discussion of policy concerning the public boards he is empowered to appoint. This has resulted in massive waste and misuse of funds and public assets. There have also been many stories of how he has abused his power to negatively impact families and intimidate other elected officials and public bodies.

We now have one chance to support a good and qualified candidate for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge. That candidate is Matthew Rambo. Good citizenship demands that we fight against corrupt and self-serving office holders. Today, for me, that means crossing over to the Republican Party and voting for Rambo in the Republican primary.

Frank Gwirtz

Parkman Township

Rambo best choice

Change in judicial office is sorely needed, indeed. The attack ads and robocalls in favor of the current probate/juvenile court Judge do much to show the need for this change. Ridiculous full-page ads and talk of enemies at every turn smacks of desperation by an arrogant career politician who fears losing his self-aggrandizing fiefdom. A judgeship should not be a political power base. A good judge should exhibit proper judicial temperament: patience, open-mindedness, courtesy, tact, courage, punctuality, firmness, understanding, compassion, humility and common sense.  Those qualities should be demonstrated consistently. Matthew Rambo demonstrates these qualities. Vote for Matthew Rambo in the Republican primary on March 17.

Kathryn Hanratty


Vote for Tim Grendell

I am supporting Judge Grendell for reelection in the Republican primary on March 17. Tim Grendell closely identifies with traditions and issues that affect our families and the welfare of citizens here in Geauga County. To his favor are endorsements by the Ohio Right to Life and the NRA. He is a recipient of the Life Award from the Ohio Christian Alliance. Tim has also supported the Amish through legislation to protect maple syrup production, eliminating electricity requirement, and exempting Amish from jury duty.

He was an active duty captain of the U.S. Army for four and a half years and is presently a member of the American Legion. He is a true patriot.

Furthermore, his leadership position with the Geauga Park District has helped open parks to limited youth hunting and regulated snowmobiling, along with other activities that preservationists oppose – preservation is “no use,” conservation is “wise use.” Tim is a conservationist.

I have lived in Geauga County since 1961. I graduated from Chardon High School, and am privileged to live in this great county, which I consider to be the Heartland of America. I’ve known Tim for 30 years and his leadership will continue to keep Geauga the special county that it is.

I’m asking you to join me in voting for Judge Timothy Grendell on March 17.

Keith J. Landies


Rambo supports GOP platform

Fellow, Geauga County residents, I hope that you are paying close attention to the primary election, which is fast approaching on Tuesday, March 17. Voters have a choice of casting a partisan or an issues-only ballot; however, to weigh in on county candidates, voters will need to ask for and vote a Republican Party ballot as no other party candidates filed to run. There are a few contested primary Republican races; therefore, the Geauga GOP wants voters to be informed and educated when casting their ballot, which is why we produced a candidates guide and held a candidates forum on Monday, Feb. 17. The candidates guide and a videotape of the forum can be found on our Facebook page and on our website at

Historically, our county Republican Party has chosen not to endorse in primary races because we want voters to decide who should best represent them in the county, in Columbus, and in Washington, D.C. Regrettably, some Republican candidates claim an endorsement by the Ohio Republican PAC and/or the Geauga County Republican PAC. These fake Republican PACs are not affiliated in any official way with the Republican Party, and I caution voters not to be fooled by them! They did not contact all the candidates on the ballot for their PAC endorsement; they picked the candidates they want to win.

Much noise has also been made about who is the real Republican in the judicial race between candidates Matthew Rambo and Tim Grendell. Throughout Rambo’s entire voting record beginning in the late 1990s and from 2012-2016, he was affiliated with the Republican Party for a combined total of about 18 years. For a short while, Rambo was affiliated with the Democratic Party in 2010 and in 2017 and 2018 when he was a Democratic judicial candidate. However, he has stated that he fully supports the Geauga County Republican Party platform and recently cast his early absentee ballot as a Republican. Therefore, he is a Republican.

As reported in The News-Herald, in 2008 when Tim Grendell was an Ohio State Senator, he was censured by the Lake County Republican Party for supporting Democratic candidate, Mark Schneider, who defeated incumbent Republican House Representative, Carol-Ann Schindel. Party Chairman Dale Fellows has said that the censure is still in effect to this day. Ultimately, it is up to you, the voter, to decide how much of a litmus test Republicanism matters when you cast your ballot on March 17.

I speak for our party when I say that we welcome people into our Republican tent who share our principles and our core values. President Trump was elected in 2016 when many voters crossed party lines after feeling abandoned by the Democratic Party, and I predict that they will do so again this November. This primary election is very important for the future of Geauga County, and I ask that all registered voters participate in deciding who will best represent us.

Nancy McArthur


Geauga County Republican Party Chairman

Big Brother Grendell is watching

Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Judge Timothy Grendell’s unjudicial behavior hit a low point last week when he gleefully reported that he knew the political affiliation of residents who have his opponent Matthew Rambo’s signs in their yards. He made this statement both at the Geauga Tea Party candidate’s night (video posted online) and at The Plain Dealer editorial board’s interview to determine endorsement in the Geauga Juvenile/Probate judge race. (They endorsed Matthew Rambo).  

How the heck would he know that without doing a drive by, checking addresses, matching them to property owners, then checking their voting history?  Is he in the surveillance business?  At the candidate’s night event he also said that signs were in a yard of a person who had appeared in his courtroom regarding a juvenile case as well as another person who had a history of drug use. In my opinion, this is a blatant violation of judicial ethics.  

 But wait – perhaps he didn’t look them up – perhaps this was done by his constable or his court administrator – both positions paid for by public funds. It takes a long time to drive up and down every road in the county. Were they reimbursed for mileage? 

Are voters in Geauga County going to continue to tolerate this kind of invasion of privacy? Are voters in Geauga County going to continue to look the other way and value his name recognition  over his self-aggrandizing arrogance.

Let’s stop this madness. Vote for a change. Vote for Matt Rambo for Judge  March 17 Republican primary.

Barbara Partington

Munson Township

Judge Grendell best choice

I recently heard too many times that Judge Timothy J. Grendell does not care about the children of Geauga County.

This statement is the opposite of fact.

Judge Grendell adjudicates cases involving children from throughout Geauga County. Children in situations such as physical, mental and sexual abuse, drug addicted parents, absent parents, alcoholics and more. This is a difficult and grueling undertaking.

The goal of any case is to first and foremost protect the children. He takes this responsibility wholeheartedly. Situations may require immediate action – remove the child or children from the environment and ensure their safety.

Judge Grendell has many resources at his disposal. Those resources do deep and thorough investigations including regular meetings with the children, families, teachers, counselors and others to prepare and submit reports to the court. These investigators also attend every hearing regarding their child.

Reunification is always the goal of every case. The children deserve to have a stable, safe, supportive family life. However, there are occasions that the decision in the best interest of the child is not the popular decision. Reuniting with toxic, abusive, unsupportive parents would be detrimental to the child’s well-being. Judge Grendell stands resolute and concerns himself first and always with the welfare of the children.

Geauga County has the highest reunification rate in the State of Ohio – 76 percent. The average rate is around 42 oercent This rate of family reunification is the result of the arduous work of the teams associated with each case.

Being in Judge Grendell’s courtroom and witnessing him attempt to help the broken families of Geauga County is inspiring. While the family jigsaw puzzle is broken, he and his team work steadfastly to reassemble the pieces.

Karen A. Kukwa

Munson Township

Seek judicial temperament

On March 17, we, the voters of Geauga County, have the opportunity to end what has been an ongoing and expensive public embarrassment for us for far too long. We can end the reign of interference and judicial abuse by Tim Grendell by supporting Matt Rambo for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge.

Thomas Jefferson warned of the judiciary being the despotic branch, and it certainly rings true in Geauga County. Judge Grendell has a well-established pattern and practice of adversarial behavior towards anyone who disagrees with him or questions the lawfulness of his (many) orders. That list of adversaries includes former Commissioner Blake Rear, County Auditor Chuck Walder, Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz, Republican Party Chair Nancy McArthur, Russell Township Trustees, Chester Township Trustees, government employees and private citizens and organizations. Calling citizens “howling coyotes,” as Tim Grendell has publicly done, shows a lack of judicial restraint and a serious character flaw. Can you name any other judge in the State of Ohio that has acted in such a manner?

Issuing (unlawful) subpoenas to compel people into his courtroom is a form of intimidation. Russell Township Trustees had to defend themselves against that abuse. When I and fellow Chester Trustee Mike Petruziello refused to follow his unlawful orders, Tim Grendell abused the power of his office by initiating a criminal investigation – alleging third degree felony intimidation; punishable by up to five years in prison. Judge Grendell even claimed I violated his Constitutional rights! Justice did persevere when his orders were reversed and vacated, but at a cost of more than $100,000 to the taxpayers of Chester. This travesty of justice could have been avoided if Judge Grendell conducted himself consistent with the requirements of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct.

One becomes his political enemy when you disagree with Tim Grendell. That is not judicial temperament; it is judicial abuse. On the other hand, in my engagements with Matt Rambo, I find him reasoned and reasonable – qualities that will serve him well as our next Probate/Juvenile Court Judge. Grendell pays no penalty for his abuse of power. Only we the people of Geauga County can administer justice by voting for Matt Rambo on March 17.

Ken Radtke, Jr.

Chester Township

Support Matt Rambo

Are you an undecided voter? Undecided about who to vote for in the Republican Primary for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court Judge? I’m voting for Matt Rambo. Here’s why.

Matt Rambo is an even-tempered man who will work collaboratively with other county officials and agencies to provide the best services possible to the people of Geauga County. Unlike the current judge, Matt Rambo won’t regularly threaten hardworking county employees with contempt in order to get his way.

Matt Rambo is a fiscal conservative who will reign in the wild increases in the court’s budget – a $1 million increase since the current judge took office in 2011, despite a drop in the caseload.

Matt Rambo is a humble man who has a calling to serve the public as a judge and whose legal career reflects his preparation for public service, unlike the current judge who is a career politician and runs to his friends in the legislature anytime he wants to change the law to give himself more power.

Matt Rambo will not use public money to plaster his face and name all over mailers, yard signs and billboards. The current judge has spent tens of thousands of our dollars on self-promotion, using court programs and the county park district as a means to increase name recognition and feed his ego.

Matt Rambo won’t be in the newspapers or on the streets of Chardon Square yelling at police officers. He’ll be working in the courthouse, serving the people of Geauga County.

Still not sure who to vote for? Ask your local law enforcement officer or elected official who they’re voting for. They may not be able to say so publicly, but privately I suspect most of our public servants will tell you they’re voting for Matt Rambo.

Vote Matt Rambo for Geauga County Probate/Juvenile Court judge. He will be the best thing to happen for Geauga County’s children and families since Judge Chip Henry.

Shelley Chernin

Russell Township

Re-elect Tim Grendell

I live in Cuyahoga County and have been a Court-Appointed Apecial Advocate (CASA) in Geauga County for several years. The residents of Geauga County are blessed to have Tim Grendell as Juvenile Court Judge. He appoints CASAs to children’s cases and makes each child’s best interest the top priority at every hearing. In 2019, closed CASA cases had a 74 percent reunification rate; the national average is only about 40 percent. You would do the families of Geauga County a great justice by re-electing Judge Tim Grendell.

Staci Balantzow Block

South Euclid

Judge’s experience counts

I have had the pleasure of working under three judges over the past 23 years, and two in Geauga County with Judge Chip Henry and Judge Timothy Grendell with whom I hold the highest regard and respect. Why? Because of their dedication to the citizens they represent, the children and the services they have protected.

Judge Tim Grendell has proven to be an honest and just judge. His integrity is above reproach. He takes the utmost measures to protect our children and seniors and keeps our community safe.

Please, do not believe all the negative things that have been falsely printed and said about Judge Grendell. If you have questions on what he is doing for the community, I am sure he would take the time to answer all of your questions and concerns. Why? Because he is a man who genuinely cares.

What the community needs to know about Mr. Rambo is that he crossed his own Democratic Party line to run against Judge Grendell as a Republican. How can you trust someone who was a progressive Democrat one day and claim to be Republican the next? How does such flip-flopping of political opportunism instill pride in a Judge? By his own admission, Mr. Rambo has said he has never represented anyone in the Geauga Probate and Juvenile Court. Do you, as a community, want this inexperienced person looking after the welfare of our children and our seniors? Experience…he has none!

Judge Grendell has provided so many new programs at the court designed to help our residents, seniors and families by implementing the court’s help center and The Good Deeds Program. Programs that help our seniors understand the probate process, and programs for families who cannot afford representation, but need help in understanding what they need to do to make their lives less stressful.

Judge Grendell gets out there and meets with the people of our community, stays in touch with our police and fire departments and school representatives. He answers questions of a complex nature and gives them his best advice.

Vote for the man who is most qualified for this important job in our community. We need a judge with years of experience, not someone who has none.

Please, on March 17, go to your polling place and vote. Vote with the knowledge that you are making the right choice for your county, your families and, more importantly, the children and seniors of our community.

Katherine Madda

LeRoy Township

Grendell lacks respect for process

Before Tim Grendell became a judge, he manipulated the election process twice. Many Geauga voters remember how he likely destroyed Republican chances to continue control of the Ohio House of Representatives by supporting a Lake County Democrat whose narrow victory tipped the balance of control in the House, denying the Speaker of the House position to Geauga County’s own Republican Representative at the time. Grendell did not support the Republican Party!

His lack of respect for the election process was also demonstrated when, as a State Senator, he ran and won election to the Ohio House of Representatives. When his wife was not appointed to his unexpired Senate seat, he decided to stay in the Senate. Did “I’m running for the House” secretly mean, “I’m running for the House, but only if my wife gets appointed to take my place in the Senate?” Is this not misleading the voters? Currently, both Grendells are running for office, using the same signs without specifying who is running for what position. Obfuscation continues!

Tim Grendell purchased a full page against Matt Rambo. It was paid for by The Freedom for All PAC. It appears from online research to be a small Akron-based PAC focused on Human Rights with most significant contributions coming from businesses outside of Ohio. As always, as has been stated by many in local papers, with Timothy it is always a good idea to Follow the Money to know what he is up to.

I will vote for Matt Rambo for Probate Juvenile Court Judge and for returning integrity and respect to the electoral process.

Jacqueline Samuel


Return pride to bench

The following list includes acts not performed by judges and lawyers who aspire to the office of judge of any court.

Run ads and circulars that they are running for office. Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell does.

Do not appear in their judicial robe of office any place except the bench. Grendell did publicly.

Do not allow their picture and name to appear on county park schedules and activities. Grendell does repeatedly.

(Note: Grendell early on was advised his only duty to the park system was to appoint park commissioners. )

Do not appear in public in a denim jacket boldly displaying their name and court. Grendell has.

Do not publicly discuss court proceedings. Grendell has.

In order to return our courts to a truly professional level, we need Matthew Rambo as a matter of pride.

Ben R. Shuman


Grendell, renounce Rambo ad

The full page ad in last week’s paper was deeply discouraging. Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Judge Timothy Grendell’s use of a PAC to malign Matt Rambo was wrong. It was even more distressing to see that Rambo’s home address was clearly placed in the center of the ad. What was the purpose of this? Was it harassment or intimidation of the candidate?  We can’t really say.

As parents of two children, we do know that had this happened to us, we would have felt menaced. We have seen Rambo at a variety of community events with his children. Does he have to reconsider bringing them now? Whether Judge Grendell had any part in creating this ad is irrelevant. As a judge, as a citizen and as a father himself, he has the obligation to renounce this ad and this kind of dirty politics. There is no excuse for tolerating this kind of behavior.

Peggy and Mike Saxon 

Munson Township

Rambo best choice

Judge Timothy Grendell keeps making the claims that experience matters and that he is the real Republican in the race for probate Judge. Well, let’s review a few facts. 

Would a real Republican who claims to be a fiscal conservative spend $1 million a year more than his predecessor?  Does experience mean he knows how to siphon off public funds via television adds, billboards and his photos in the park newsletter to publicize himself? Would a real Republican appoint park commissions that refuse to allow public comment or questions at official park meetings?  Does experience mean knowing how to threaten county officials with jail when they balk at paying his bloated bills?  Would a real Republican fire a park commissioner when that person shows concern about protecting an endangered species? Does experience mean illegally using a probate court employee to help him put up his huge yard signs? Would a real Republican appoint park commissioners who send around $70,000 to the Disney corporation so Geauga Park employees can run around looking like Disney characters? Does experience mean appointing park commissioners who spend well over appraised value for a golf course and a piece of property adjacent to that owned by a park commissioner? Would a real Republican tolerate a park director who illegally issues trapping permits on park land that is a state nature preserve?  Does experience mean tolerating full page adds from extremist groups that lie about his opponent? Would a real Republican?

I’m voting for Matthew Rambo on March l7.

John G. Augustine

Parkman Township

No vote for Rambo

A candidate for any elected office must, first and foremost, be honest and forthright to earn my vote. Application of those criteria definitely eliminates Matthew Rambo from consideration on March 17. Like some devious political chameleon, this immutable Democrat now claims to be a Republican less than one year after running for Geauga County office as a Democrat. Is he revealing himself as one of those serial candidates constantly running for something — anything — qualified or not, until they finally squeak in through the back door?

In 2010, Mr. Rambo voted as a Democrat registered in Franklin County and has since continued to be so registered. In another county, in another election year, he voted in 2017 as a Democrat registered in Lake County. The following year, 2018, he unabashedly ran as a Democrat against Republican David Ondrey for the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas. Fortunately, Judge Ondrey trounced him. Of course, Rambo also voted in Geauga County in 2018, as a registered Democrat. In 2019, but a few months later, he schemes to relabel himself as a Republican.

It’s important for Republicans, for all voters, in Geauga County to know that Mr. Rambo supported Democrat candidates running against incumbent U.S. Rep. David Joyce, R-Bainbridge, and then-State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, R-Chester. His rabid supporters include Geauga Democratic Party Central Committeeman David Partington and Democrat Shelley Chernin.

While my Republican roots are well grounded, I’m pragmatic enough to acknowledge that not all Democrats are demonic or wrong all of the time. I do, however, reject liberal ideologues and others of that ilk, a category that comfortably fits recent Geauga County arrival Matthew Rambo.

There are few certainties in electoral politics. However, the paramount certainty for an informed, discerning voter is honesty. It’s readily apparent that Mr. Rambo is dishonest about himself, his history, his irrefutable self-identification as a Democrat. Fortunately, there is a uniquely well-qualified, experienced, honest, dedicated incumbent with a public service record second to none in Geauga County.

Kevin Keough


Grendell not a real conservative

Political conservative once meant ideals like integrity to the Constitution and the values of the founding fathers, fiscal restraint and minimal government oversight. Yet, Judge Timothy Grendell seems happy to insult the intelligence of reasonable conservatives with his plethora of campaign flyers suggesting he is the true conservative in this race for his gavel.

Everyone should recall the stunt he pulled in 2010 when, while holding one legislative seat, he ran for another. When he won that seat, he immediately declined it and then used his right to appoint someone to take the seat. He unabashedly stole an election from the electorate and saw nothing wrong with it because, as he put it, he did it to help his political party. That sounds like the same disturbing Dershowitzian logic used by President Trump’s lawyer that would have left conservative founders like Madison reeling. Republicans would have once decried such an act as one of the most apprehensible, yet in the post Tea Party age of conservative politics, Grendell was praised by his followers.

Grendell has since laid waste to other conservative tenets. For example, he lacks any fiscal restraint as exemplified by his reckless court spending that has found him in near constant conflict with the county auditor’s office. He has also demonstrated a lack of respect for local rule with his messy history of meddling with various local township governments, never mind his micromanagement of the county park system so well covered by concerned citizens. He has even used his power to legally challenge citizens of his own party the right to free speech, which sounds more like the behavior of Ivy League liberals.

Many far-right conservatives take pleasure in how these renegade politicians irk liberals, or boldly mix faith with politics, but what they fail to realize is that candidates like Grendell and Trump are ultimately toxic to the party. Numerous national surveys have shown that the GOP membership is shrinking, especially among millennials and younger adults. The rebellious, amoral and uncompromising behavior of Grendell and Trump appeals to these right wingers, but alienates many rational people who still respect the true nature of conservatism.

You are making it all too easy for liberals to expose the dark underbelly of the party when membership stand proud and applaud after Trump spews obvious lies in a State of the Union speech, or when you continue to elect hypocrites like the Grendells to office.

The party desperately needs to restore decorum and leadership that respects the truth but still values true conservative politics because more of this extreme politics will only accomplish to empowering an electorate that is more willing to try Bernie Sanders’ form of politics. In that spirit, I urge reasonable conservatives to save the GOP from self-destruction one candidate at a time and elect Matt Rambo to Probate Court and Frank Hall to State Representative this March.

Steven Vieira

Chester Township

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