Counties trace their roots to the English of a thousand years ago. Serving a dual function, the shire acted as the administrative arm of the national government as well as the citizens' local government. The structural form of the shire was adopted along the eastern seaboard of North America by the colonists and adapted to suit the diverse economic and geographic needs of each of the colonies. When the national government emerged, the framers of the constitution did not address local governments. Instead, they left the matter to the states. Consequently, early state constitutions visualized county government as an arm of the state.
After World War I, population growth, suburban development, and the government reform movement strengthened the role of local governments. Those developments set the stage for post World War II urbanization. Changes in structure, greater autonomy from the states, rising revenues, and stronger political accountability ushered in a new era for county government.
County governments are operational in 48 of the 50 states. A board of three County Commissioners serves as an administrative body for 87 of 88 Ohio counties. As a group, the Commissioners of Lorain County serve approximately 296,307 residents. Besides the Commissioners, there are eight other elected positions in Lorain County serving four year terms to include; the Prosecuting Attorney, Coroner, Sheriff, Engineer, Treasurer, Auditor, Recorder, and Clerk of Courts. These positions also serve 4-year terms. The county also has six Common Pleas Court Judges and four Domestic Relation Judges, each serving a six-year term.
Elyria is the Lorain County Seat, with the main Administration Building and Justice Center located in downtown Elyria.