Chmiel Wins Heated County Commissioners Primary Race

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One Democrat and one Republican are on top as results of the county commissioner primary race rolled in late Tuesday night.

Chris Chmiel, from Albany, won the bid for current Commissioner Mark Sullivan’s seat with just more than 29 percent of the votes.

Four other candidates ran for the same seat, including Robert Baughman, Mike O’Brien, Paul “Smoke” Barrett and incumbent Mark Sullivan.

Sullivan has held his position as an Athens County Commissioner for a decade.

Director of the Athens County Board of Elections Debbie Quivey stated that multiple Democratic candidates vying for the same seat is not out of the ordinary.

“This is a Democrat county, so whenever there’s a ballot, we always have more Democrat candidates running,” Quivey said.

Competition for the primary intensified as more Democratic candidates entered the race.

Chmiel said one of the biggest parts of his campaign was community involvement and finding a unique way to stand out from other candidates.

“I tell people I started the Pawpaw Festival, and I’m a farmer at the famer’s market, this is my first try in politics and I’m the youngest candidate,” Chmiel said.

But being the youngest candidate wasn’t the only thing that kept Chmiel’s outlooks for the election bright.

“This might sound kind of hoakie, but I think that love is the counter to [fear], and I’ve stayed really positive in my message,” Chmiel said.

Paul “Smoke” Barrett ran against Chmiel in the primary and started his campaign four months ago.             

“You try to get your message out,” Barrett said.

But getting that message out proved unsuccessful for Barrett, who came in close second with 29.39 percent of the votes, just one percent less than the winner.

Chmiel will face Republican Randy Hugh Mace in the fall, a candidate who received 200 write-in votes Tuesday.