By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
WEST CHESTER TWP. - For the first time, the balance of power in the Butler County Republican Party has shifted from Hamilton, the county seat, to West Chester Township, the fast-growing unincorporated area.
But developer Carlos Todd, the West Chester resident unanimously elected executive committee chairman Monday, said his new leadership team will work to bring together a party split last year by the County Commission candidacies of incumbent Michael A. Fox and legislator Greg Jolivette.
"ZIP codes don't matter as much, because I'm chairman of the whole party," said Todd, party chairman from 1991 to 2001. "I'm excited about trying to get us back on track and build party unity."
Judy Shelton, a long-time Fox supporter, lost her position as chairman of the central committee - the grass-roots core of the party - by one vote to Quentin Nichols, the party's West Chester Township regional chairman.
West Chester Township Trustee George Lang was elected executive committee first vice chairman. West Chester resident Scott Owens was appointed executive director.
"The West Chester coalition won. They own it all," said Fox, whose supporters had aggressively recruited precinct candidates for the central committee after the party failed to endorse him for re-election in October.
Fox said Shelton, the wife of Hamilton City Council member Ed Shelton was "punished" by party members "for being the only person in leadership who supported me."
Judy Shelton said Tuesday that party members wanted a change in leadership, though she was surprised that West Chester will dominate the party. Fairfield also will be well represented with Scott Lepsky as political director, Joe Statzer as press secretary and Mike McNamara as public relations director.
"Usually we try to keep it geographically balanced around the county," Shelton said. West Chester has the most precincts (45), followed by Hamilton (44), Fairfield and Middletown (39 each).
Todd has proposed several bylaws reforms. He wants regional chairmen - not elected officials - to recruit central committee candidates.
And Todd wants to change endorsements for races with multiple candidates. Under his plan, the person with the least votes would be dropped from the ballot, and another vote taken, until a person gets 60 percent needed for endorsement.
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