Richland County voters to consider contested races, tax issues in May 2 primary

Matt Finfgeld is the director of the Richland County Board of Elections.
Matt Finfgeld is the director of the Richland County Board of Elections.

The May 2 primary election will be a busy one for Richland County voters.

Wednesday was the filing deadline, leaving voters to consider a number of contested races and tax issues.

Matt Finfgeld, director of the Richland County Board of Elections, predicts a turnout of up to 20%.

"I think they will have a heavier turnout in the city of Mansfield than in the county," he said.

Four Republicans have filed to run for Mansfield mayor. Tim Theaker will leave office because of term limits.

Jim Holsinger, Jodie Perry, Linn Steward and Stephanie Zader all have filed for the GOP nomination. Sherry Vaught was the lone Democrat to file. Her petitions were still being reviewed at press time.

Holsinger is a political newcomer. He has held a variety of jobs and currently works at Fin-Feather-Fur Outfitters in Ashland.

Perry has been the president and CEO of Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development. She is currently the chamber's COO, taking a lesser role since she is running for office.

Steward is finishing her third term as the city's finance director. She will be leaving that office because of term limits.

Zader is a first-term councilwoman-at-large and investor.

Three candidates running for finance director

Three candidates have filed for city finance director. Republicans Mark Abrams and Kelly Blankenship will contest the primary. Democrat Jon Van Harlingen also has filed.

Abrams is the superintendent of the city's parks and recreation department. Blankenship is the executive director of Harmony House, the local homeless shelter.

Van Harlingen formerly served on city council.

Barring write-in candidates, the winner between Abrams and Blankenship will face Van Harlingen in November's general election.

Law Director John Spon is another officer-holder leaving because of term limits. Democrats Christopher Brown and Rollie Harper are running. No Republicans filed.

Brown is the deputy law director. Harper is a longtime attorney who previously ran for juvenile court judge. The winner of their race will replace Spon, barring a write-in candidate.

Both current Mansfield Municipal Court judges, Jerry Ault and Frank Ardis, will be leaving office because they are past the age of 70. Ohio allows judges to finish a term after turning 70, but they cannot run for another term.

Filing for Ault's spot are Republican Michael Kemerer and Democrat Cassandra Mayer. Kemerer is the first assistant law director, focusing on the criminal division, and Mayer is a longtime defense attorney.

In the race for Ardis' seat, Republican David Badnell and Democrat Lore Whitney have filed. Whitney is a Municipal Court magistrate. Badnell is an attorney.

Incumbent Municipal Clerk of Courts Dan Smith has filed for another term. The Democrat is being challenged by Republican Jerry Snay, a former Richland County Sheriff's deputy.

Five Mansfield City Council seats available

Five city council seats are up this year, but only one race appears to be contested.

The only contested race is for sixth ward, where Democrat Kimberly Moton is the incumbent. She is being challenged by Republican Deborah Mount.

Longtime City Councilman Phil Scott has filed to be president of council. The Democrat currently is a councilman-at-large.

Current Council President David Falquette has filed for council-at-large. He is a Republican.

Second Ward incumbent Cheryl Meier was the only candidate to file for that spot. She is a Democrat.

The other open seat is in the fourth ward, where Republican Harold Wayman has filed.

Incumbent Alomar Davenport withdrew his petitions before the deadline, Finfgeld said. Davenport, who chairs the finance committee, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The deadline for write-in candidates is 4 p.m. Feb. 21.

In Shelby, incumbent Municipal Court Judge Sheree Studer is being challenged by J.C. Elgin, former Richland County assistant prosecutor.

While other Shelby candidates have a Feb. 15 filing deadline, the judicial candidates had to file by Wednesday because the court serves some of the townships.

Shelby and Ontario will see active primary elections.

Incumbent Shelby Mayor Steve Schag has pulled petitions to run for another term. No one else has filed yet.

Incumbents Nathan Crum and Gordon Eyster, Shelby's finance director and law director, respectively, have pulled petitions, with Eyster's being verified.

Five council seats are open in Shelby. The only one being contested at this point is the race for third ward with Eric Cutlip and Logan Masters, who both have pulled petitions.

Incumbents Steve McLaughlin (council-at-large), Charlie Roub (first ward), Derrin Roberts (second ward) and Nathan Martin (fourth ward) have pulled petitions. Roub's petitions have been verified.

In Ontario, five council seats are up for election. In the second ward, incumbent Rose Marie Feagin is being challenged by fellow Democrat Patricia Bender.

In the first ward, Nathan Sunderland, a Democrat, has filed. Also filing are Sherry Branham for third ward and Josh Bradley for fourth ward. Both are Republicans.

Republican Eddie Gallo, the council president, is waiting to have his petitions reviewed.

Tax levies prominent part of May 2 ballot

Along with the candidates, voters will consider a number of tax levies.

The city of Mansfield will ask residents to approve a 0.5% income tax issue to support operating costs for the police and fire departments. It is for four years.

The Mansfield-Richland County Public Library has a 3.9-mill, 10-year renewal levy on the May 2 ballot.

Madison Local Schools residents will vote on an 8-mill levy for current expenses. Shelby voters will consider a 0.2% income tax for roads and sidewalks. It is for five years.

Countywide, residents will vote on a 1.5-mill renewal levy for the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging. They also will consider a 0.8-mill renewal levy for Dayspring, the county home.

A late entry came from the Richland County Parks District, which is seeking a new 0.6-mill, 10-year levy.

Early voting information

Finfgeld wanted to remind residents that early voting begins April 4. The deadline to register is April 3. The BOE will be open until 9 p.m. that day.

Hours for early voting are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 4-7, 10-14 and 17-21. Hours for the week of April 24-28 are to be determined, but Finfgeld said they likely would be extended, such as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29 and 1 to 5 p.m. April 30. There will be no voting hours on May 1, the Monday before the election, which Finfgeld calls a change from previous elections.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is April 25.


Twitter: @MNJCaudill

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Richland County voters to see many races in May 2 primary election