Miami County getting new sheriff after nearly 3 decades

Miami County residents elected a new sheriff for the first time in nearly three decades Tuesday, selecting current Chief Deputy Dave Duchak over former chief deputy Joe Mahan.

Unofficial totals from the Miami County Board of Elections showed Duchak with 71 percent of the vote and Mahan with 29 percent. Voter turnout in the county was more than 70 percent.

“I want to thank all of the voters of Miami County for putting their faith in me. We have a great sheriff’s office. We want to continue that tradition of excellence,” Duchak said. He commended Mahan for running a good campaign.

“We fought a good fight as far as we are concerned,” Mahan said.

Current Sheriff Charles Cox said in 2015 he would retire at the end of his term this year after 28 years in office. He has battled health issues the past couple of years.

Duchak, 51, of Troy was the Republican candidate after defeating three other Republicans in the March primary. Mahan, 62, also of Troy, said he ran as an independent to give people a choice in November. He previously ran as a Republican.

Duchak is in his 29th year in law enforcement, most of it spent with the sheriff’s department. He said the top issues facing the department were dealing with “the heroin scourge” and providing adequate jail space.

Mahan has around 30 years in law enforcement, serving as chief deputy for Cox until 2006 when he left the department after Cox said he was openly seeking his job. Mahan said the sheriff had told him he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. Cox said there was a misunderstanding.

Mahan ran unsuccessfully against Cox in 2008. He now serves as commander of the basic police academy at Edison State Community College in Piqua.

Also Tuesday, Piqua residents approved a charter amendment to change the way the city’s mayor is selected. Unofficial totals showed 61 percent voting in favor of the amendment and 39 percent voting against.

The Piqua City Commission this year initiated a review of charter provisions for selecting a mayor after current mayor Kazy Hinds won a seat on the city commission last November but did not win the mayor’s race. Gary Koenig was the candidate who won the mayor’s vote but failed to win the commission seat. Because the charter required a candidate to win a commission seat to serve as mayor, Hinds became mayor even though Koenig had the most votes for mayor.

The amendment would have commission members elected by the public followed by the commission electing a mayor and vice mayor.

Voters in Troy were supposed to vote on a proposed 10-year levy for recreation facility construction and improvements. However, the request was withdrawn Monday by the Troy City Council due to an error in a decimal point in the ballot language that would have had the levy generate much less than the $1 million the city wanted to raise annually. The error was discovered last week by a voter. Tax proponents said they planned to return with the recreation request at a future election.

Also on the ballot Tuesday - for the 17th time - was a referendum of the Miami County commission’s rezoning of 50 acres off Monroe-Concord Road in Concord Twp. from agricultural to residential use.

The commission has approved the request for the Trafalgar property repeatedly since 1995 only to have area residents work to overturn the vote to rezone. The unofficial vote was 65 percent supporting the referendum and 35 percent against.