MOUNT VERNON – Local voters could see five contested races, three replacement levies and several questions on this spring’s primary ballot, according to an unofficial list of candidates and issues from the Knox County Board of Elections.
The deadline for candidates to file for the March 17 primary election was Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ballot issues and questions also had to be filed by this time). The Knox County Board of Elections will meet to certify petitions on Dec. 30.
Here’s the unofficial list of candidates and issues that could appear on this spring’s ballot:
Two county commissioners will face opposition in March. Teresa Bemiller (R), who has served on the board since 2008, will run against Eric Wisyanski (R). Bemiller, of Mount Vernon, is seeking her fourth term in office; Wisyanski, of Howard, is running again after falling to former commissioner Roger Reed in 2014.
Thom Collier (R), who was first elected to the board in 2012, will run against Barry Lester (R). Both Collier and Lester are from Mount Vernon; Collier is seeking his third term in office, while Lester is seeking his first.
Bill Pursel, the third county commissioner, will not need to run again in 2020, as he was elected to a four-year term in 2018.
The position of Knox County sheriff will also be up for grabs this spring. David Shaffer (R), who has served as sheriff since 2013, will run against Danville police chief Dan Weckesser (R).
Weckesser has been Danville’s police chief since 2016. He said he chose to run for sheriff because he wants to expand his role in the local law enforcement scene.
“My desire is to serve our citizens,” Weckesser told Knox Pages, “and I would like to bring my strategies of law enforcement to all of Knox County, instead of just the Danville and Brinkhaven areas.”
In the courthouse, Jay Nixon (R) will run against John Dilts (R) for the position of Knox County juvenile/probate judge. Nixon, of Mount Vernon, was appointed by then-Gov. John Kaisich in Nov. 2018 to fill the unexpired term of Judge Jennifer Springer. Springer took a medical leave of absence in April 2018 and retired five months later.
Nixon served as a magistrate for three years before becoming Knox County's juvenile/probate judge. He will run against Dilts in an effort to secure his first full term. Dilts, of Fredericktown, works in Mansfield as an attorney. According to his website, he offers legal advice relating to criminal and domestic law; personal injury cases, wills and probate; criminal defense and juvenile cases.
The final contested race on the March ballot will be for Ohio’s District 68 House seat. Rick Carfagna (R), who is currently serving his second term in office, will run against Steven Mount (D). Both candidates live in Westerville and are looking to represent the state’s 68th House district, which includes the eastern half of Delaware County and all of Knox County.
In other local races:
- Chip McConville (R) will run unopposed for the position of county prosecutor in the March primary.
- Christy Milligan Staton (R) will run unopposed for the position of county clerk of courts.
- John Lybarger (R) will run unopposed for the position of county recorder.
- Shelley Coon (R) will run unopposed for the position of county treasurer.
- Cameron Keaton (R) will run unopposed for the position of county engineer.
- Dr. Jennifer Ogle (R) will run unopposed for the position of county coroner.
- Patrick Quinn (R), of Mount Vernon, will run for the position of 7th District Congressional representative. Filings in Knox County did not indicate his competition.
- Jeff Furr (R), of Utica, will run for judge in Ohio’s 5th District Court of Appeals. Filings in Knox County did not indicate his competition.
Only Republican candidates filed to run for elected positions in Knox County this spring. This means that, if this list holds true, the winners of the primary election races will run unopposed in November.
The deadline for write-in candidates for the primary is Jan. 6. The deadline for Independent candidates to file is March 16. Any Independent candidates would only appear on the 2020 General Election ballot.
Questions and issues
Voters in Clinton Twp. will be asked whether or not they approve the township contracting with an electrical provider, in an effort to provide optional electrical services to residents. Trustee Terry Thompson said this option could provide residents with substantial savings.
“We’ve got a lot of low-income residents, and it can save them $20 to $30 a month on their electric bills,” Thompson said. “That money can be used for food and other needs.”
If township residents vote ‘yes’ on this item, they will not be required to use the township’s electrical provider, Thompson explained. It will simply be an option.
“We don’t like to force anything on anybody, so we’re putting it on the ballot to see if they want it,” Thompson said.
Miller Twp. is placing two replacement levies on the March ballot. One is a 1.2-mill levy for fire protection and the other is a 1.4-mill levy for EMS services.
Trustee Lynn Gregory Rowe said the replacement levies will not raise taxes for residents. They will simply allow the township to continue paying the Homer Fire Department for coverage.
The Fredericktown Joint EMS District is placing an additional 1-mill levy on the ballot. Chief Rick Lanuzza said this will go toward the district’s general fund. The district plans to let the current 0.4-mill operational levy expire, then introduce the new 1-mill levy this spring.
It will cost district residents an extra $21 per year, per $100,000 property value, Lanuzza calculated.
“The increased funds will be used to support all aspects of the service we provide,” Lanuzza said. “It goes to our general fund – maintenance, equipment, it’s spread out over everything.”
Lanuzza said the tax increase is necessary for the district to keep up with “the increasing cost of the times.”
The Village of Brinkhaven is putting a five-year, 2.5-mill replacement levy on the ballot. This will go toward the village’s general fund, Mayor Josh Moreland said, and will pay for basic operational costs.
If passed, the levy will replace the village’s current 2-mill operational levy. The new levy would bring in approximately $3,500 per year, Moreland said. He predicts taxpayers will not find it burdensome.
“As far as how much it will cost residents, I doubt they'll even notice it,” Moreland said.
Moreland predicts Brinkhaven will place another levy on the November 2020 ballot, which will help pay the Danville Police Department for coverage.
The Central Ohio Joint Fire District is placing a 5.5-mill replacement levy on the ballot for fire and EMS services. Chief Mark McCann could not be reached for comment Thursday on what levy funds would be used for, or how much it would cost residents.
Morris Twp. is placing a 4-mill renewal levy on the ballot for fire and EMS services. Voters will also decide whether or not to allow Sunday alcoholic beverage sales at Fast Freddies in Fredericktown.