Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann (Provided)
State Rep. Denise Driehaus (Provided)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
In a surprise move, Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartman announced early Monday he isn't running for re-election next year.
In an email to supporters, Hartmann said he is taking "a self-imposed term limit."
The Republican has been gearing up to take on challenger State Rep. Denise Driehaus, D-Cincinnati, for his third term.
He officially kicked off his 2016 re-election campaign with an Oct. 12 event at Incline Public House, according to his Facebook page.
But in a email that went out at 12:02 a.m. Monday he wrote: "Remaining too long in one place can breed stagnation. Movement is good. Our Party has many qualified candidates to serve our County, and I look forward to helping ensure we nominate and elect someone who represents our future."
Hartmann began serving in January 2009, and re-elected to a second term in January 2013. He also previously served nearly six years as Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.
The abrupt announcement caught the Hamilton County Republican Party by surprise - and Driehaus.
“I continue to be excited about running for the county commission,” she said. “This is an opportunity to move the county forward in collaboration with the business community, with the city and with the working families throughout the county.”
Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the county GOP and a close friend of Hartmann's, said: “Greg just doesn’t want to do this anymore and was just ready to move on. I know it’s perhaps the rare politician who doesn’t want to keep serving, but when he says it’s time to move on, that’s what it is.”
Triantafilou acknowledged he was “a little surprised” at the announcement. Hartmann had more than $300,000 in his campaign account.
“I have no doubt that he had run he would have been in a good position to win, so I don’t think that was it,” Triantafilou said.
Now county Republicans don’t have a candidate and hope to avoid a contested primary.
“We are going to open it up and have a bunch of conversations today with folks,” Triantafilou said, declining to name possibilities. “Hopefully one clear candidate emerges. We have several good alternatives.”
Hartmann's entire email reads:
After serving for seven years as County Commissioner, I have decided not to stand for re-election next November.
We have accomplished much in my time here, but it’s time for me to move on. Hamilton County is in a better place than I found it upon entering public office in 2003. We have great days ahead of us here, due in some part by the tough choices we have made as a Commission.
A large part of this decision has been motivated by a firm belief that fresh air and new perspectives add much to our political process and public service – one might call it a self-imposed term limit. Remaining too long in one place can breed stagnation. Movement is good. Our Party has many qualified candidates to serve our County, and I look forward to helping ensure we nominate and elect someone who represents our future.
I am incredibly proud of the record I will leave behind. As a conservative, it has never been my primary focus to starve government at all costs. We have been about solutions, not ideology; progress, not the status quo.
While holding the line on taxes and saying “no” a lot, we have played a significant role in raising the quality of life for residents. From advancing solutions to the issue of homelessness to tackling the scourge that is heroin, we have gone some places the County had not been willing to in the past. Starting the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative, which is changing the lives of foster kids on a daily basis, ranks as one of my top personal accomplishments.
Our fiscal house is in order, despite confronting the worst economic downturn in decades. Our County operation is 1500 people smaller than when I arrived. This represents a budget which has been cut by nearly $100 million. Nothing was harder than these years of cuts. Our cash reserves are at a long time high and we are in good shape for the future.
We have seen strong economic progress from the Banks, with the announcement last year of General Electric’s long-term commitment to our Riverfront, to the transformation of Over-the-Rhine, to the expansion and growth of local companies like Emery Oleochemicals. This growth is being fostered by a reinvigorated economic development focus through the REDI/JobsOhio partnership. Sales tax receipts are up and jobs growth is here. Our region is on the move, and we are poised for this momentum to roll into the future.
We still face many challenges, from our overburdened child welfare system to the revolving door that is our criminal justice system. Much work remains, but I am confident our future is bright.
Thank you for the tremendous support you have provided during my time in office. That translated to the independent decision-making I hope marked my service. Earning that trust is something for which I am most proud. Thank you.
I have greatly enjoyed my time at Hamilton County and promise to remain engaged in our great political process.