Numerous candidates officially filed their petitions to seek elected office throughout Athens County Thursday, the filing deadline for partisan candidates in the May primaries.
Independent candidates have until May 3 to file petitions, one day before the May 4 primary.
In the race for Ohio's 92nd House District, incumbent state Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens, has filed her petitions, as has Republican Mike Hunter, former commander of the Ohio Highway State Patrol's Athens Post. A third-party candidate has also filed in the race. Ty Collinsworth from Nelsonville has filed as a Green Party candidate.
A second Republican, Shanon Miller, had taken out petitions in the race, but had not filed them by the deadline according to the Athens County Board of Elections' Web site..
For the open Athens County commissioner seat currently held by Democrat Lenny Eliason, both he and two other candidates filed for the race.
Miki Brooks of Nelsonville filed to challenge Eliason in the Democratic primary for the seat. Another Democrat, Charlie Adkins of Albany, had taken out petitions in the race, but had not filed them before the deadline. (He told another local paper that at the last minute he reconsidered because of an unrelated public appointment.)
A Republican, Matt Gaiser, of Athens, has also filed petitions to challenge Eliason.
Brooks works as a realtor with Ohio Realty. She is also a member of the Nelsonville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, president of the Stuart's Opera House Board of Directors, and is retired as a guidance counselor from Tri-County Career Center.
Gaiser also works as a realtor, but with Larry Conrath Realty. Gaiser has been a member of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce since 2000, and has held positions as the co-chair, and then chair of the ambassador committee. In 2002, Gaiser was voted as the "Ambassador of the Year" by business peers in the Athens area, according to the Larry Conrath Realty Web site.
Eliason has been county commissioner since August 1998 when he was appointed to an unexpired term. He won election to his first full term in November 1998. Prior to elected office, Eliason had a 20-year career in the broadcasting industry in various markets in Ohio, including 10 years as a station owner. (For a brief period, Eliason wrote a sports column for The Athens NEWS.)
Republican County Auditor Jill Thompson remained unchallenged by any opponent as of 5 p.m. Thursday. Thompson filed her petitions for re-election.
Athens County Common Pleas Judge Michael Ward, also a Republican, remained unchallenged as well. Ward also filed his petitions for re-elections.
FOR THE DEMOCRATIC AND Republican central committees, a number of other individuals filed with the board. Most significantly among these is former Athens County Democratic Party chair Susan Gwinn.
Gwinn is seeking re-election to her committee seat representing Athens County's Athens South precinct.
Former Athens County Commissioner and current Athens Township Trustee Tommy Adkins, as well as Athens resident Jean Andrews, both filed to run for Gwinn's seat.
"A Party for All," a Democrat reform group that was organized largely in opposition to Gwinn's leadership, held a "coming-out party" at Thursday afternoon at Jackie O's Public House in Athens. (See related story in this issue.)
Gwinn has held the Athens South committee seat for years, though she resigned as party chair in January, following the news that she had been convicted of two misdemeanor counts of falsifying campaign finance reports from her unsuccessful 2008 run for Athens County prosecutor.
Gwinn has asked the judge in her case to set aside that verdict.
The membership of the central committee is important because after it is installed in November, it will vote on the new party chair. Currently the position is held by Athens City Council President Bill Bias, who was chosen in a special election after Gwinn stepped down.
Susan Roth of A Party for All has suggested that some reform-minded Democrats are concerned that Bias may act as a front for Gwinn, allowing her to continue running the party from behind the scenes. Bias has denied this is the case.
At the event, Athens Democrat Susan Mitchell (wife of Athens NEWS Publisher Bruce Mitchell) was announced as a candidate for the party's state central committee.
IN OHIO'S 18TH CONGRESSIONAL district, the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections confirmed that nine Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover. The far-flung district includes parts of northern Athens County.
State Sen. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, joins former Magistrate Judge Jeanette Moll from Zanesville, former state Agriculture Director Fred Dailey, Newark businessman Beau Bromberg, talk-radio host Dave Daubenmire of Thornville, former Ohio House member Ron Hood of Ashville, Hombre Liggett from Dover, a Michael D. Royer of Malvern, and Helen Heskett Wolfe of Lancaster in the crowded GOP primary.
Space faces a primary challenge from Mark Pitrone of Gnadenhutten, a Navy veteran who challenged Space in 2008, getting 15 percent of the vote.
In Ohio's 6th Congressional district, which includes the city of Athens and most of Athens County, U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, will see a primary challenge from contractor Jim Renner of North Benton.
The Republican primary to challenge Wilson includes Ohio businessman Bill Johnson of Poland, Ohio, veterinarian Donald Allen of Youngstown, 2008 Wilson challenger Richard Stobbs of Dillonvale and roofer Samuel A. Hepfner of Salem.
Disgraced ex-U.S. Rep. James Traficant, a convicted felon, is also reportedly mulling a possible congressional candidacy, possibly in Wilson's 6th District. He has until May 3 to file as an independent in the race.
Traficant is the former Democratic representative for Ohio's 17th Congressional district. In 2002, Traficant was convicted of 10 felony counts including bribery, racketeering and tax evasion. In July of that year, the U.S. House voted 420-1 to expel Traficant from Congress. He was the first representative to be expelled since 1980.