Parties looking for good candidates for positions
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MOUNT VERNON — Although national pundits are already looking ahead to the 2020 elections, local attention this year will be focused on city, township, village and school elections.
The village, township and school board elections won’t come on the stage until the November elections. Levy requests can be placed on either the May or November ballot or a special election ballot.
The May 7 election will be primarily a city election, as village, township and school board races are nonpartisan and don’t have primaries.
In the fall, voters will elect a trustee and a fiscal officer in the townships, council members in the villages, and either two or three board members in each school district.
The process for getting one’s name on the ballot includes getting signatures of registered voters. For those running for city offices, those signatures need to be from the same political party that one is running with.
Candidates for at-large seats and president of council need 50 signatures on nominating petitions; ward candidates need 25, Knox County Board of Elections Director Kim Horn said.
Candidates for mayor, auditor, law director and treasurer need 50 signatures.
“We expect to have a full slate of candidates for the city election,” said Knox County Republican Party Chair Chip McConville, adding that he and other party leaders are in the process of talking to possible candidates.
McConville said people interested in being GOP candidates need to express an interest in running to him or Central Committee members from the city. Then, he or other party officials will talk to them about why they want to run and what it takes to be an effective candidate.
“Some do it naturally, some need to follow advice,” he said.
The GOP central committee generally endorses candidates before the primary, so it is probably a good idea to cultivate committee members so the committee members know who the potential candidates are.
Democratic politics in the county is less rigidly organized.
Party Chairman Adam Gilson said, “nobody needs to get permission to run for a Democratic Party nomination. Go to the Board of Elections, take out petitions and run.
“If people have questions, they’re welcome to call me and we’ll talk about them.”
Gilson admits it can be a struggle to fill a slate of candidates for local offices.
“The polarization and rancor of national politics has filtered down to the local level and has sometimes scared off candidates,” he said. “I have a dream that I can put together a full slate of candidates with good people, but it’s hard to convince them to run.
“For one thing, the full time positions often don’t pay enough and people would have to quit better-paying jobs to run.”
One of the things Gilson said he would like to have seen if the charter issue had passed in November was consideration of non-partisan city elections.
“Local issues are seldom partisan in nature,” he observed.
Despite that, he said, he and other party leaders will be talking to people and sounding out potential candidates.
“We still have a month to go until the petition deadline,” he said.
Candidates for mayor, city auditor, city law director, city treasurer (unexpired term) and city council must file petitions with the board of elections by Feb. 6 for the May 7 primary election. For those running for villages, townships and school boards, they must file petitions by Aug. 7 for the Nov. 5 election.
This year, Mount Vernon will have all of its seats up for election.
Incumbent Mayor Richard Mavis will complete his sixth term as mayor at the end of this year and the veteran Democrat has said he will not seek re-election.
Incumbents Auditor Terry Scott and Law Director Rob Broeren are expected to run for re-election and have taken out petitions for the positions, according to Horn.
Both are Republicans.
City Treasurer David Stuller, who was appointed to the post by the Republican Central Committee in October after Felicia Rhodes resigned in August, said when he took office that he expected to run to fill the rest of the term.
On City Council, First Ward Representative Sam Barone, the lone Democrat on council, has indicated he does not plan to seek re-election. The other six members, along with Council President Bruce Hawkins, all Republicans, have not publicly announced their plans.
For the May election, military and overseas absentee voting begins April 1, while absentee voting by mail begins April 8, as does early in-person voting.
The deadline to register to vote is April 8.
Early in-person voting begins April 9, and ends on Monday, May 6 at 2 p.m. with extra hours Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by May 5 or dropped off by 7:30 p.m. election day at the Board of Elections office.