Primary election sent into late legal limbo

Staff report

Late Monday night, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the polls closed today as a health emergency, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

State officials had taken steps earlier Monday to delay the primary until June 2, when it is hoped COVID-19 concerns will have subsided. Delaying Election Day usually takes a legal order or an act by the state legislature, according to the Secretary of State’s Office website. Neither Governor Mike DeWine nor Secretary of State Frank LaRose, both Republicans, has the power to postpone an election on his own.

An Ohio judge rejected a request late Monday to postpone the state’s primary amid concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, but it was not clear if that would be the final word hours before polls were scheduled to open.

Acton made her decision to close the polls after the judge ruled. The legality of her order was not addressed by DeWine or LaRose by press time.

Earlier in the evening, Judge Richard Frye ruled against a motion backed by DeWine and Frank LaRose, who had hoped to push in-person voting back to June 2 to avoid crowds at polling places.

“There are too many factors to balance in this uncharted territory to say that we ought to take it away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus,” Frye said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Champaign County Board of Elections Deputy Director Jodi Flora said that as of Monday afternoon, the board was unsure whether Monday’s filing deadline for Independent candidates wishing to compete in the Nov. 3 general election would be extended.

In Champaign County, no Independents had filed by Monday afternoon for county seats or for the state representative seat currently held by Nino Vitale (R-Urbana).

With county Coroner Joshua Richards, M.D., retiring at year’s end, the county may be without an elected coroner since no one has filed for the office. The county commission may contract with the coroner of an adjacent county to provide those services.

The write-in deadline for the November general election is Aug. 24.

No independents filed in Allen County for the state senate seat now held by Matt Huffman (R-Lima), however, Chris Gibbs of Maplewood in Shelby County filed in Lorain County as an Independent candidate for the U.S. representative seat now held by Jim Jordan (R-Urbana).

Those wishing to vote in the Nov. 3 election must be registered with the county Board of Elections by Oct. 5.

The following local issues are on Champaign County’s primary ballots:

– Urbana Champaign County Senior Center – 5-year, 0.5-mill additional levy for a new facility

– Village of St. Paris – 5-year, 4-mill additional street levy

– Village of Christiansburg – 5-year, 1-mill levy renewal for current operating expenses

– Northwestern Local School District – substitute existing levy for a 5-year, 7.16-mill levy (includes Champaign County’s Mad River and Urbana South precincts)

Primary election candidates for state and U.S. seats

– U.S. Rep Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) has no competition in the primary, but on Nov. 3 will face Libertarian Steve Perkins of Pataskala and one of three Democrats who filed for the Democratic primary, according to information provided by the Lorain County Board of Elections. The Democrats competing in the primary are Shannon Freshour of Marysville, Mike Larsen of Plain City and Jeffrey Sites of Lima. If Gibbs’ petition is deemed valid, he will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot.

– State Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has no competition from fellow Republicans, but in November will face Democrat Ken Poling of Lima, according to information from the Allen County Board of Elections.

– State Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana) has no competition from Republicans, Democrats or members of other political parties, according to the Champaign County Board of Elections.

County offices

– County Commissioner Steve Hess of St. Paris faces fellow Republican Stacey Logwood of Urbana in the primary.

– County Commissioner David Faulkner of St. Paris faces fellow Republican Timothy Cassady of Mechanicsburg in the primary.

– Sheriff Matthew Melvin has two opponents in the Republican primary: Chad Burroughs of St. Paris and David Patrick II of Urbana.

The following Republican incumbents have no competition from Democrats or Republicans:

– Judge Brett Gilbert, Common Pleas Division, domestic relations, juvenile, probate

– Judge Lori Reisinger, Common Pleas Division, domestic relations, juvenile, probate

– Prosecutor Kevin Talebi

– Recorder Glenda Bayman

– Treasurer Robin Edwards

– Clerk of Courts Penny Underwood

– Engineer Stephen McCall

Staff report