FINDLAY - With eight incumbent Republican officeholders unchallenged on Tuesday's ballot, Hancock County voters have just one contested county office to decide.
Two independent candidates and a Republican are vying for the county commissioner seat held by Virginia Clymer, who did not seek re-election.
Emily Anne Walton, a veterinarian from Jenera, won the Republican nomination by beating out four other contenders in the March primary. She faces independents Christopher Cox of Findlay, a forklift operator at Whirlpool Corp., and James S. Routson of Findlay.
Dr. Walton, 53, said that in light of the financial struggles the county has undergone in recent years, she felt compelled to get involved. She served four years on the Arlington school board, was the first woman to serve as president of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, and was a member of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board.
"My past experiences ... got me interested in politics and the law and public service, and I felt I had something I could offer," Dr. Walton said.
Mr. Cox, 35, has never sought public office but said he decided to run because he is alarmed by what he sees as a dramatic increase in low-paying manufacturing jobs that he believes have resulted in more crime and fewer owner-occupied homes in the county. He said he wants to attract new, good-paying employers to Hancock County by granting tax abatements that are tied to starting hourly wages.
"If a factory wants to start workers at minimum wage, it would get absolutely no tax abatements," Mr. Cox said. "The higher they start off on the wage scale, the higher the abatement they would receive."
Mr. Cox said two other priorities he would pursue would be building a jail and adequately supporting the county Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to ensure that Blanchard Valley school remains open. The current jail has been struggling with crowding problems for years, and a financial crisis with the MRDD board has caused some parents to worry that the school for retarded children will close.
While Mr. Cox said he would support renewing the emergency two-year, 0.25 percent sales tax approved by voters in May, 2003, to support the sheriff's office and courts, Dr. Walton said commissioners will have to examine whether it's still needed and, if so, let the voters decide.
"When we look at the numbers and see what it has done and how it has served us, it might be something voters would be in favor of," she said.
Mr. Routson could not be reached for comment.
Hancock County commissioners are paid $50,353 a year.
The other open commissioner seat will be filled by Edward Ingold, who won the Republican nomination in March and has no opponent in the general election.
Voters around the county will cast ballots on the following issues:
The village of Arlington is seeking a 1-mill replacement and a 1.5-mill increase for five years for fire protection and equipment.
The village of Benton Ridge is asking voters to renew a five-year, 1-mill levy for recreational purposes at the village park.
The village of Jenera wants voters to replace a five-year, 4-mill levy for current expenses.
Union Township is asking for an additional five-year, 2-mill levy for fire protection and equipment.
Several precincts also will decide whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales at certain locations:
Findlay's Precinct 6-B will vote on whether to allow the sale of wine and mixed beverages between 10 a.m. and midnight at Kroger, 101 Sixth St., and whether to allow the sale of spirituous liquor between 1 p.m. and midnight on Sundays at the same Kroger store.
Biglick Township voters will decide whether to allow the sale of beer at the Red Hawk Run Golf Course, 18441 U.S. 224, and whether to allow the sale of beer between 1 p.m. and midnight on Sundays at the same location.
In the northwest precinct of Liberty Township, voters will decide whether to allow the sale of intoxicating liquor between 1 p.m. and midnight at licensed premises where food and other services exceed 50 percent of the total gross receipts both at businesses where liquor is sold for consumption on premises and off premises.
In Orange Township, voters will decide whether to allow Sunday sales of wine and mixed beverages between 1 p.m. and midnight at the Sterling Store, 111 Commerce Lane, Bluffton.
- Jennifer Feehan