Portsmouth attorney Valarie K. Gerlach will square off in November with Republican incumbent Judge Matthew McFarland for a slot on the Fourth District Court of Appeals after capturing the Democratic nomination by defeating Pike County Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Price.
The returns ran late this year and it was late into the night before 100 percent of the precincts were counted. In that final count Gerlach garnered 21,994 votes to Price’s 17,466. In Scioto County, Gerlach picked up 65.88 percent of the vote with 3,752 people filling in the box by her name to her opponent’s 1,943 – 34.12 percent. In all, Gerlach carried 13 of 14 counties, losing only in Price’s home county of Pike.
“Paul Price is such a good person and a gentleman,” Gerlach said. “He called and said congratulations. He told me when the Democratic dinner was and saved me two tickets and said he would introduce me and said he would help me in any way that he could in Pike County. What a gracious, kind human being.”
As she watched the numbers roll in through the evening and into the night, it finally became apparent to her that her lead was going to hold up. That’s when reality set in.
“I’m totally stunned and speechless,” Gerlach said. “I just want to say thank you voters. Thank you mom and dad (Franklin T. and Cynthia Gerlach), thank you J.R. for helping me.”
Gerlach has a built-in montor in her family. Franklin T. Gerlach is a former city manager and mayor of the city of Portsmouth and has practiced for decades locally and Valarie Gerlach says she hopes to have her father help her navigate he way through the campaign.
“He has such a good name,” Gerlach said. “As far as Washington County people knew his name and had high praise for him.”
Gerlach said her plan is to keep doing what she is doing in the form of campaign activities. She said she has never held a fundraiser but knows that now goes with the territory.
“I know that I have to expand my reach,” Gerlach said. “Now it’s going to be non-partisan and so I want to reach out to Independents, Republicans as well as Democrats.”
Her November opponent, Matthew McFarland was unopposed on the Republican ballot. Scioto County attorney Marie Hoover, William Harsha and Peter Abele are also members of the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.