Thursday, May 19th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Independent candidate enters race for mayor
CELINA - Ron Hammons will join the race for Celina mayor in November.
Hammons filed as an independent candidate earlier this month and Mercer County Board of Elections members certified his petition Tuesday morning.
He needed 25 valid signatures and collected 30, all of which were verified, board of elections deputy director Laura Bruns said at the board's regular meeting.
Hammons initially submitted a petition to appear on the Democratic primary but a lack of valid signatures kept him from the race.
He will be challenged during the general election by Republican candidate Jeff Hazel, a former city safety service director, and Democratic candidate Craig Klopfleisch, a former city mayor.
In the May primary, Hazel defeated current mayor Sharon LaRue by capturing 828 votes - 67.92 percent of the total vote - compared to LaRue's 391 votes. Klopfleisch took in 396 votes - 72.5 percent of the total - to the 150 tallied by his Democratic opponent, Jess King.
In other news this week, board members approved the official canvass of the primary election results. A few votes were dismissed for various reasons but none of the races or issues voted on May 3 were affected by the change.
Board members approved 41 of the 44 provisional ballots and tossed aside three absentee votes.
A total of 5,230 votes were officially approved - 4,681 cast at the polls, 508 absentee votes and 41 provisional votes, according to Bruns.
Board member Toni Slusser said about 100 Celina voters switched parties to vote on Republican or Democratic ticket.
Board chairman Owen Hall on Tuesday said he is pleased with how board members and election staff have worked together recently.
The official canvass was completed in one day, a process that usually takes two, he said.
Also, unofficial results of the primary election were disseminated to the public much more quickly than previous elections.
At the primary election, final unofficial results for all 38 precincts were made available about 10 p.m.
Problems with voting equipment in last year's general election delayed the release of results until about 2:30 a.m., and the 2010 primary election results were available about 1 a.m.
Earlier this month, board member Mark Uhlenhake and Bruns attributed the improved efficiency to well-prepared poll workers, the use of electronic voting machines and new electronic voter identification machines.
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