Wood County’s Hoytville not worried by empty ballot

Official: Plenty willing to serve, but forgot to file

A sign outside the Jackson Township-Hoytville Fire Department encourages residents to support a two-year .75-mill levy for the department’s operation.
A sign outside the Jackson Township-Hoytville Fire Department encourages residents to support a two-year .75-mill levy for the department’s operation.

HOYTVILLE — In the Wood County village of Hoytville, out of about 300 residents, the number of candidates on the Tuesday ballot: Zero. Not any, nobody, no one.

And write-in candidates? None of those either.

Ballot information from the Wood County Board of Elections looks rather empty: for mayor, unexpired term, one to be elected, no candidate filed. Board of trustees of public affairs, two to be elected, no candidate filed. Council, four to be elected, no candidate filed.

The village’s council already is one shy of a full six members.

Blame the ballot situation on forgetfulness, one official said. Folks failed to remember to file paperwork to run for office, despite reminders from Peg Phillips, the village’s clerk-treasurer for three years.

“It is unusual,” she said, about the lack of any candidates on the ballot. But sometimes appointments have been made after elections as a result of a shortage of candidates.

The town’s mayor, Russell Teegardin, Jr., who took office last year, for example, was appointed because “nobody wanted to take the position the last time around,” she said. “This year when it was time for people to get their petitions, I reminded them ahead that they needed to get their petitions, get them signed, and pay their money to the Wood County Board of Elections, and they all forgot, until it was too late,” she said.

In fact, it was too late for anyone to run as write-in candidates either.

After the election, the village solicitor will help prepare resolutions to appoint the mayor and council members, she said. Residents are interested in serving, and that means it shouldn’t take arm twisting to fill the seats.

The village no longer has a board of trustees of public affairs, meaning no appointments to that board, Ms. Phillips said.

Will Hoytville residents have any reason to get out and vote? Actually, there’s a local fire levy issue, she said. A sign near the Jackson Township & Hoytville fire department, established in 1888, encourages residents to vote “yes” on the fire department levy. Also on the sign, a notice about trick-or-treat time and date and an invite for doughnuts and cider in the fire hall.

Yard signs show support for passage of a countywide tax issue to support services for those with developmental disabilities.

Hoytville, Ohio, is home to about 300 residents. No candidates filed to appear on the ballot for mayor or four openings on village council.
Hoytville, Ohio, is home to about 300 residents. No candidates filed to appear on the ballot for mayor or four openings on village council.

Not even a handful of people were out on a recent sunny morning, a day ahead of a predicted downpour. However, in fields near the southern Wood County community: a beehive of activity as farmers raced the rain clouds, harvesting crops and top-dressing the farmland.

“Beans are in. Some corn’s still in the fields,” said Jim Buchanan, who lives in nearby North Baltimore. He says he pays little attention to Hoytville elections. He owns, for his own puttering around, the former gas station in Hoytville, a now jam-packed building that at one time could have fit two cars, but today, you’d be pressed to squeeze in a bicycle. Essentially, he said, “there’s nothing left as far as businesses go. There were two bars, a gas station, a grocery store. The economy went to hell. Nowadays, it’s a quiet little community.”

Nick Gibson, 23, who grew up in Hoytville, doubts council chairs will sit vacant after the election. Someone will volunteer for councilman or mayor, he said, noting he lacks time to serve in an elected position. “I do too much hunting, fishing, taking care of kids, working,” he said.

Walking her dog nearby, Edna Johnson, who was born and raised in Hoytville, frets not about the lack of candidates on the ballot. “Hoytville has lasted this long. We will continue to get along just fine,” she said. The town is home to some younger people who would like to serve on council, but they can’t take time off work like people could at one time, she said.

She said she heard that paperwork for candidates was filled out but didn’t get filed on time. No matter, she said, because several Hoytville residents are ready to run, er, rather, she said, correcting herself, they are ready to be appointed and serve as mayor or council members.

Messages left seeking comment from some council members were not returned, and Councilman Joe Hagemyer started to give an explanation, but then declined to comment further, referring questions to the mayor, who could not be reached for comment.

Carol DeJong, election administrator with the county board of elections, said Thursday the board doesn’t keep track of people who fail to meet deadlines, either for the ballot or for the later deadline for write-in candidates. People either file on time or they don’t, she said. “We keep track of who comes in on time,” she said.

Hoytville residents typically turn out to vote and they are active in the community, Ms. Phillips said, noting residents rallied to help keep the post office from getting stamped out.

“Our little post office was on the chopping block,” she said, but residents showed strong support for the post office, a place that is a “big deal” in a small town. She described the post office as Hoytville’s information center where people not only get their mail, but the latest scoop on community news, such as who isn’t on the general election ballot.

Contact Janet Romaker at: jromaker@theblade.com or 419-724-6006.