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02-25-03: Two seek Democratic mayoral nomination
The Daily Standard

    WAPAKONETA - The Auglaize County Election Board certified petitions for the May 6 primary, including a contested race for the St. Marys' Democratic mayoral nominee at its Monday board meeting.
    Fourth Ward council member Tina Ward, 320 South Pine St., has thrown her hat in the ring against incumbent Mayor Greg Freewalt, 1015 West High St. No Republican filed for the mayor's race, and the deadline for a write-in to file for the primary is March 17.
    Ward, the manager at Certified Oil gas station in St. Marys, said the key points of her campaign will be the need for more activities for youngsters in St. Marys and installing a stop light at the corner of New Knoxville Road and Spring Street.
    Freewalt, a salesman at Omni Manufacturing in St. Marys, welcomed the challenger, saying citizens need to take a more active role in local politics so there is more competition for the positions. He said his plans for the future include focusing on the lawsuit between the city and county over the old landfill.
    Robin Willoughby, a Democrat, was the lone person to file for Ward's seat on council that will be vacated.
    Other ballot issues for the May election approved by the board   include gas aggregation in Minster and St. Marys. Gas aggregation will allow for each community to join with other municipalities in a larger group for greater negotiating power for purchasing natural gas.
    Gas utility companies now provide gas supply and delivery service to companies. With gas aggregation, the community will be able to purchase from other suppliers and hope to lock in a lower rate.
    Minster residents also will vote in May on a new, continuing 6.5 mill operating levy. The school board reached the decision after the state-mandated five-year financial forecast projected a $502,849 operating debt in 2004, with debt continually spiraling up to $2.6 million in 2007.
    Also on the primary ballot will be a new, 2-mill continuing tax levy for the Auglaize County Board of Mental Retardation/-Developmental Disabilities. Board members decided on the new levy after financial forecasts showed a break-even cash balance at the end of 2004.
    Board of election members voted on Monday to create a  deputy clerk position and eliminate one of the two assistant positions. They also agreed to give clerk Jean Burklo more help for instituting touch screen voting.
    Josie Schaub and Kathy Ankerman currently hold the two assistant positions. Burklo could not state whether one of those two would be considered for the deputy clerk position.
    Burklo said touch screen voting will be introduced first to the county poll workers at the end of March or beginning of April. She hopes to have the system fully implemented for the November general election.
    The county will be purchasing 290 touch screen terminals for the 43 precincts in the county, including 50 terminals that meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at a cost of $1.28 million.
    "The federal funding is now available to get the touch screen voting system," Burklo said. "The state now just has to work out the plan on how it will disperse the money."


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