Though a whole slew of Athens County offices are on the county Primary Election ballot March 17, only a few are contested, including the county Treasurer’s office and the Common Pleas Court’s Probate-Juvenile judgeship.
And other than that judicial seat, no Republicans filed petitions to run for any of the Democratically held county offices that are up for election.
The Athens County Board of Elections certified petitions for the primary on Friday. Noteworthy filings included:
• Peter A. Kotses, who now serves as an at-large Athens City Council member, is running in the primary against incumbent county Treasurer Ric Wasserman. Both are Democrats, and no Republicans filed for the seat.
Kotses said he’ll have to resign his recently won City Council seat if he wins the treasurer position. However, he explained that since he wouldn’t be seated as county treasurer until September 2021 (as a result of “non-conventional” timing affecting that position), he’d be able to serve 85 percent of his City Council term. “There is still work to be done on my council seat, and I’m not stopping anytime soon,” Kotses said.
For his part, Wasserman said he doesn’t feel “as if I’m entitled to not be challenged.”
However, he said he's "a little surprised" to be challenged by a member of his own party.
• Athens lawyer Kenneth E. Ryan, who until recently served on the Athens County Board of Elections, filed petitions to run against local lawyer Scott M. Robe for county Common Pleas Probate-Juvenile judge. Both are Republicans.
• Two Democrats will face each other for the chance to run against the winner of the race between Robe and Ryan. They are Rusty Rittenhouse, a local lawyer who serves on the Athens City School Board, and Zachary L. Saunders, assistant Athens County prosecutor. In Ohio, judicial seats are partisan in the Primary Election, nonpartisan in the General Election.
• Katie O’Neill of Nelsonville filed for the Ohio House 94th District seat currently held by state Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville. O’Neill and Edwards are both unopposed in the primary. According to a news release she submitted Thursday, O’Neill, 38, is a 2013 OU graduate with a law degree specializing in the environment. The 94th House District encompasses all of Athens and Meigs counties and parts of Washington and Vinton counties. Rep. Edwards is in his second term, after being elected to the seat in 2016 and easily winning re-election in 2018.
The NEWS will follow up these races in more depth once we get into the new year.
Democratic office-holders who are unopposed in both the March 17 primary and barring any independent candidates filing for the seats, the General Election next November, include Athens County Commissioners Charlie Adkins and Chris Chmiel, county Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, county Sheriff Rodney Smith, Clerk of Courts Candy S. Russell, Recorder Jessica Markins, Engineer Jeff Maiden, Coroner Dr. Carl Ortman, and Common Plea (General Division) Judge Pat Lang.
Seats held by County Commissioner Lenny Eliason, county Auditor Jill Thompson and Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy are not up for election in 2020.
Other Legislative Races
• Ohio House District 78, which includes part of northern Athens County. Currently occupied by Ohio House Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, who is term-limited. Running in the Republican primary are Brian Stewart, Ashville; Bobby Mitchell, Canal Winchester; and Aaron Adams, Kingston. Democrat Charlotte Owens of Lithopolis is running unopposed.
Ohio Senate District 30. Currently occupied by Senator Frank Hoagland (R-Adena in Jefferson County, formerly of Mingo Junction), who has filed to run for re-election. His only opponent is Michael Fletcher (D-Athens).
• U.S. House District 15. Currently occupied by Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, who has filed to run for re-election. He faces a challenge from Shelby X. Hunt of Pickerington in the GOP primary. Two Democrats, Joel B. Newby III, Columbus, and Daniel M. Kilgore, Columbus, will face each other in the Democratic primary.
• U.S. House District 6, which includes part of eastern Athens County. Currently occupied by Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, who has filed for re-election. He faces Kenneth Morgan of Chesapeake in the GOP primary. Shawna Roberts of Belmont is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.