Primary ballots set in area; Lucas still mulls candidacy

2/7/2014
BY VANESSA McCRAYAND TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITERS
Newlove
Newlove

A trio of Republicans will face off in the May 6 primary for the Wood County commissioner race, while in Lucas County, officials waited for clarification on whether petitions filed Thursday would be certified.

Matuszak
Matuszak

In Wood County, Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, Kristi Kennelly, and Jim Matuszak filed petitions to run for the seat.

Kennelly
Kennelly

Andrew Newlove, a Democrat from Bowling Green, also seeks the post.

Herringshaw
Herringshaw

Election boards in Wood, Fulton, Henry, Ottawa, and Hancock counties extended the primary filing deadline to Thursday because of Wednesday’s snow.

In Lucas County, Democrats and Republicans were split on whether the deadline was legally extended.

Democratic Deputy Elections Director Dan DeAngelis and Democratic board member John Irish said Wednesday that petitions would continue to be accepted on Thursday because of the Level 3 snow emergency Wednesday.

But Republican Elections Director Meghan Gallagher said the county’s filing deadline remained 4 p.m. Wednesday.

She said she was storing petitions filed on Thursday in a separate folder. She said the board has not yet scheduled its next regular meeting, at which candidate petitions would be certified.

Ohio Secretary of State spokesman Matthew McClellan said the question of whether Thursday filings would be accepted was being reviewed by the Lucas County Prosecutor’s office.

“Our office provided guidance to the county boards of elections on how to handle candidate filings that might have been impacted by the weather. Since we are not in Lucas County, I cannot speak to what the weather conditions were and what actions the county board needed to make. As I said yesterday, our understanding is that the board was working with the county prosecutor on how to handle the situation,” Mr. McClellan said.

Lucas County was under a Level 3 snow emergency most of the day, so even though the elections office was open, motorists were being told by the Lucas County sheriff to stay off the roads unless they had emergency responsibilities. The Lucas County elections board did not hold a meeting to discuss the situation.

One of those filing Thursday in Lucas County was a potential Democratic primary opponent for incumbent Democratic Commissioner Carol Contrada. Michael B. Hood, of 9751 Oak Place Court, Holland, filed petitions to run for commissioner as a Democrat. Mr. Hood could not be reached for comment.

Two Republicans filed for the May 6 primary contest: Benjamin Roberts and Kevin Haddad.

Also still up in the air Thursday was whether John Navarre, a commercial appraiser working for the Lucas County auditor, can run against incumbent Democratic Auditor Anita Lopez. State law bars “classified” employees from running for partisan political office, and according to Ms. Lopez, Mr. Navarre is a classified civil service employee.

Mr. Navarre said Thursday night that Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook was consulting with a lawyer.

“I intend to run if I am able to run,” Mr. Navarre said. If he is forced out of the race, Ms. Lopez would be left with no Republican or Democratic opposition to her re-election this year.

In Wood County, Ms. Herringshaw, 64, of Liberty Township was appointed in 2013 to replace former Commissioner Tim Brown, after he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.

Ms. Kennelly, 45, of Perrysburg Township is an administrator at a private business college, which she would not identify. Mr. Matuszak, 49, an accountant, won election to the Perrysburg City Council in November and was sworn in last month.

Each candidate — including Mr. Newlove, a 36-year-old broker with Newlove Realty — stressed economic development as a priority.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot in the last year and the continuity on the board of commissioners, I think, is a positive thing,” said Ms. Herringshaw, who cited a desire to be “fiscally responsible and conservative” with the public’s money.

Ms. Kennelly wants the county’s elected officials to have more authority to manage their offices’ budgets, while Mr. Matuszak said public safety and drug prevention awareness will be among his chief concerns.

Mr. Matuszak said he’s thankful for the confidence voters who recently elected him to the city council placed in him.

“I would still be representing them at the county level,” he said, of his decision to seek another office.

Two Republicans are vying to be the next Seneca County commissioner.

Mike Kerschner, 61, of Tiffin, and Philip Frankart, 49, of New Riegel, will face each other in the primary. No Democrats filed for the race.

The men seek the seat now held by Commissioner Jeff Wagner, who announced in October he would not seek re-election.

Mr. Wagner was one of two commissioners who voted in 2011 to tear down the 1884 Seneca County Courthouse in downtown Tiffin. Then-commissioner Ben Nutter also proved the demolition contract in 2011 and he lost his re-election bid in 2012.

At the time of the October announcement that Mr. Wagner, who has more than two decades of public service, would not seek re-election, Seneca County Republican Party Chairman David Koehl said Mr. Wagner wants to spend more time farming. But he acknowledged the controversy over the demolition factored into Mr. Wagner's decision not to seek re-election.

Area residents who wanted to see the courthouse renovated won't forget Mr. Wagner's role in the building's demise even "20 years from now," Mr. Koehl said, adding, "Jeff's smart enough to know that."

As for the upcoming race, Mr. Kerschner, who retired in 2007 as the chief executive officer of Old Fort Banking Co., thinks he can bring a louder voice at state and national levels to champion issues important to Seneca County and said he’ll work to manage county funds.

Mr. Frankart, owner of an auto repair shop, said he decided now is the right time to run, especially as someone who lives outside the county seat of Tiffin.

“I’m just to the point where I’ve seen a lot of politicians come and go in this county, and I think it’s just about time an average guy stands up,” he said.

Both candidates said the 1884 county courthouse wasn’t properly maintained, leading to its demolition in 2012 with the support of Mr. Wagner.

“We need to make sure... we don’t allow any other properties that are icons in the community [to] go away,” Mr. Kerschner said.

In Hancock County, Republican incumbent Phillip Riegle of Arlington faces Republican challenger Stephen Oman of Findlay. No Democrats filed for the post.

Henry County Commissioner Thomas VonDeylen, a Republican, is unopposed, as is Ottawa County Commissioner James Sass, a Democrat.

Ottawa County Auditor Lawrence Hartlaub, a Democrat, will be challenged in the general election by Republican Veronica Reid.

Republican Jeffrey Rupp is unopposed for Fulton County commissioner, a spot presently held by Commissioner Perry Rupp, who is not directly related.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.