Commissioner defeated in Warren County

10:02 p.m Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Local

Tom Ariss, an incumbent commissioner and former sheriff, was defeated Tuesday in one of three contested countywide Republican primary races in Warren County, according to unofficial election night totals.

Running head to head, Mason Councilman Tom Grossmann easily beat Ariss, who finished first four years ago in a five-way race.

Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler outran Magistrate Andrew Sievers in the race for the common pleas seat in the juvenile and probate court.

In the third contested race, Matt Nolan, chief assistant to Auditor Nick Nelson, easily defeated Staci Morris in the primary race to replace Nelson, who is retiring after 28 years.

“This was less a referendum on me than it is a referendum on Nick,” Nolan said as results were coming in.

Ariss, who served as sheriff for 16 years, was seeking a second term as a county commissioner. He could not be reached.

The race gauged the influence of the growing Mason area on countywide elections and Ariss’ name recognition after 20 years in public office as a sheriff and county commissioner.

It also pitted neoconservatives, including Grossmann, the former county party chairman, against more moderate members of the county GOP, including Ariss.

“I ran ads where I distinguished myself from Mr. Ariss. He did not distinguish himself as a conservative Republican leader,” Grossmann said. “I did not deliver that message last time.”

Grossmann and Nolan should take office in January, since no Democrat has filed to run for the offices.

While the commissioner race tested countywide election trends, the Nolan-Morris election pitted two current chief assistants in Warren County.

In addition to her boss, County Recorder Linda Oda, Morris was backed by County Prosecutor David Fornshell over Nolan, a former assistant county prosecutor.

The Morris campaign sent out a campaign flier in the final days, criticizing Nolan for working as a prosecutor while holding a full-time position as chief deputy auditor.

“People who run positive campaigns should win,” Nolan said. “We’ve got to stop negative campaigning.”

A Sievers flier claimed Peeler lacked death penalty experience and pointed out the judge was running for another judicial office, although he was still serving a term in the common pleas court’s general division.

Peeler said he also distributed a flier using excerpts from Sievers’ personnel file. In November, he is to be challenged by Democrat Craig Newburger and Libertarian Roger Staton.

“I hope the general elections are a bit more positive than the primaries,” Peeler said.