By Tim Cox
With only two weeks to go before the mandatory filing deadline, there are a large number of village council, school board and township trustee seats up for grabs in the Grand Lake area.
In fact, in a number of races, no one -- not even the incumbent -- has filed to appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. The situation is largely the same in most races throughout Mercer and Auglaize counties.
Elections directors say they expect a late rush of activity and say they expect relatively few races to generate so little interest that no one files to run.
In Mercer County, a number of local races still have no candidates filed. Those include four open seats each on Burkettsville Village Council, Chickasaw Village Council, Mendon Village Council, Montezuma Village Council, St. Henry Village Council and two or three seats each for the Celina, St. Henry and Fort Recovery schools' boards of education with no one filed to run for any of them yet.
Parkway also has three seats to be contested with three candidates already filed. Only one candidate has filed to seek office in the races for Coldwater and Rockford village councils.
"There will be a lot of activity every day now," until the Aug. 25 filing deadline, Mercer County Elections Director Denise Fullenkamp said.
The situation is much the same in Auglaize County, where numerous village and school board races still need candidates.
In New Bremen, Mayor Jeff Pape was so concerned about the apparent lack of interest in four open village council seats that he issued a news release seeking candidates. Three seats also are up for grabs on the New Bremen school board, the news release said.
That situation had changed by this morning. Auglaize Elections Director Linda Householder said three people have filed to run for New Bremen council. Two people have filed for four open seats on Minster council.
Also in Auglaize, no one has yet filed for any of the three open seats on the St. Marys school board. Minster and New Bremen school districts also have three available seats with virtually no interest expressed so far.
Some portions of the ballot already are set because the partisan races required candidates to be filed by last May's primary election.
Celina City Council has only one head-to-head race, Ward 3 Councilman Ed Jeffries against Independent Don Kohnen. Myron Buxton defeated Sue Canary in the primary and will run unopposed in November for the seat now held by Denny Smith.
All township races in Mercer County have two seats up for grabs this November. Most of them already have two candidates but there is no limit to how many people can vie for those seats.
To file, prospective candidates must file petitions with their respective county elections boards by 4 p.m. Aug. 25. Different races have different requirements for gathering signatures, and all candidates must pay a filing fee.
Candidates for township and school board seats need 25 valid signatures of registered voters who live in that political jurisdiction. Candidates in small villages need only 10 signatures while those in villages with populations over 2,000 people need 50 signatures. Fifty signatures also are needed to run for the county school board.
Mercer County elections officials will perform free "courtesy checks" of petitions before they are officially filed. Doing so is a good idea, Fullenkamp said, because it prevents some petitions from being voided for too few valid signatures or other problems. Disqualified filers are not allowed to refile petitions for the same election, she said.
A number of issues also are slated to appear on ballots in some precincts in Mercer County, including:
´ A 10.48-mill replacement operations levy in the Coldwater school district.
´ Union Township seeks a fire renewal levy.
´ Marion Local Schools seeks a 1.5-mill replacement levy to fund permanent improvements.
´ The county Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (MR/DD) plans to have a 2.47-million the ballot, but county commissioners must formally act on it before it is added.
Issues in Auglaize County include a 1-mill renewal levy for permanent improvements in the New Bremen school district and others in the Wapakoneta area.