UPDATE: Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley has confirmed he will run for the Ohio House 43rd District seat.
State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election and will instead run for Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Juvenile division judge.
His decision will likely lead to one of the hottest Statehouse races in the region as the Ohio 43rd is one of the most evenly divided politically in the Dayton area.
Thursday night Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley confirmed that he will run for Rezabek’s seat. Foley, a Democrat, had earlier announced that he would not run for re-election but will serve out his term on commission through the end of this year.
Democrat Ralph Dean Brill of Brookville, also took out nominating petitions from the Montgomery County Board of Elections but could not be reached for comment.
On Friday Clayton Councilman Kenny Henning will formally announce he is running in the Republican primary for the seat, and Stephanie Garrett of West Alexandria has also confirmed she is running in that primary.
Foley declined to say more about his candidacy but said he will hold a formal announcement news conference soon.
‘We made an impact’
Rezabek said he wants to use his experience as a lawyer and a legislator to bring change to the juvenile court.
“We made an impact in the legislature,” he said. “But the real impact is directly on the community and directly with those kids and with those families.”
Rezabek, an attorney specializing in juvenile cases, is running for the seat being vacated at the end of the year by Juvenile Judge Nick Kuntz, who cannot run for re-election due to age limitations for judges.
The race for Kuntz’s seat has attracted a lot of attention, with at least five other people taking out nominating petitions.
They include Democrats Julie Bruns of Miamisburg, Greg Scott of Dayton, Steven Wagenfeld of Centerville and Cynthia L. Westwood of Farmersville. Republican C. Ralph Wilcoxson II has also obtained a petition.
Rezabek ran unsuccessfully for the job in 2012. First elected to the Ohio House in 2014, he won a bitter re-election battle in 2016 against David Sparks of Clayton.
Henning said he will make the formal announcement that he is running for the seat at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Friday at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center’s adult center, 6801 Hoke Road, Clayton.
“I’m 100 percent invested in the community and I want to ensure that our 43rd House district has a strong champion to advocate for the district in Columbus.” said Henning, who is a judicial assistant to Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Erik Blaine.
A Clayton native who has served on the council since 2012, Henning said his campaign will focus on farming and agriculture, the concerns of small business owners and trying to restore Local Government Fund revenue slashed by the legislature. He said he also wants to address the opioid addiction crisis.
Garrett is president of the Preble County Convention and Visitors Bureau and assistant treasurer of the Ohio Republican Party.
“I wanted to teach my children that they could make a difference. So I got involved in my community and started working with candidates and the Republicans.”
The filing deadline for the May 8 primary is Feb. 7.
Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said the 43rd House district is about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and can be won by a Democrat like Foley.
“If he’s willing to get out and roll up his sleeves and work I think he can win it,” Owens said.
The district covers parts of Englewood, Clayton, Trotwood, western Montgomery County and all of Preble County.
Multiple people have pulled petitions to run for Foley’s county commission seat. Democrats include Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice and Daryl Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church in Dayton.
Both Rice and Ward have turned in their nominating petitions.
Republicans include former Miami Twp. Trustee Bob Matthews and current Miami Twp. Trustee Doug Barry, both of whom have turned in petitions. Petitions have been obtained but not submitted by Greg Hart and Joshua Smith, both Dayton Republicans.