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Incumbent Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason, a Democrat, secured a seventh term in a three-way race that pitted him against independent candidate Bill Hayes and Republican candidate Alex Burcher.
“I’m thankful for the support I’ve gotten all these years from the voters and look forward to supporting them these next four years,” Eliason said.
Eliason won with 52.99% of the vote according to unofficial, preliminary election night results from the Athens County Board of Elections, with some provisional ballots yet to be counted. Meanwhile, Burcher received 36.10% of votes and Hayes received 10.91% of votes.
Eliason, 67, of Athens was first elected to the county’s board of commissioners in 1998 and campaigned on his record. Eliason said that during his next term he will continue support for ongoing projects such as county support for the Baileys Trail System, an extension of the county’s bike path to Marietta, and sewer and broadband projects, including in Amesville.
“We’re going to continue to work on the projects we’re doing and continue to watch the finances of the county,” said Eliason.
Burcher, 25, of Nelsonville, ran to become the first Republican elected to the county’s board of commissioners since 2008. Burcher campaigned on his youth, newness to politics and support for new businesses.
Burcher congratulated Eliason on his victory and Hayes on his campaign. He said he intends to run again for commissioner.
“We’re going to take some time and we’re going to get some more training and education on the issues in our area, and we’re going to come back and do it bigger and better,” Burcher said.
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Hayes, 66, of Athens, styled himself as a nonpartisan environmentalist in his third campaign for a county commissioner seat. He previously ran in 2020 and in 2018, receiving 37.34% and 34.25% of the vote respectively, according to election results from the Athens County Board of Elections. In this year’s three-way race, Hayes fell well short of the share of votes he secured in his previous campaigns.
Hayes campaigned on environmentalism, the new perspective he would bring to the commissioner seat and what he described as an approach to economic development that would benefit a greater share of county residents. He declined to comment on election night.
Eliason said his seventh term as county commissioner will also be last.
Keri Johnson, Isabel Nissley and Malaya Tindongan contributed to this reporting.
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