2020 Primary: Candidates must file before Christmas for spring races

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JASON HAWK
EDITOR

When one election ends, another begins, and candidates are already starting to file for the March 17 primary in Lorain County and across Ohio.

It’s expected to be a wild spring, with Democratic presidential hopefuls jockeying to take on Donald Trump for control of the White House.

Eighteen have announced campaigns — top contenders are Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Three Republicans have also thrown in against Trump to seek their party’s nomination: former Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and businessman Roque De La Fuente, who in 2016 ran as a Reform Party candidate.

None are on the ballot yet in Ohio.

Perhaps the next biggest race will be in the 4th Congressional District, where Democrats are desperate to unseat Republican firebrand Jim Jordan.

Filing to run so far are challengers Shannon Freshour of Marysville and Jeffrey Sites of Lima. Retired Oberlin City Schools teacher Janet Janet Garrett, a Democrat, has chosen not to run after back-to-back landslide losses.

At its easternmost point, the snake-shaped 4th District encompasses Oberlin, Elyria and a few other Lorain County communities.

Also on the ballot is the 7th Congressional District seat, currently held by Republican Bob Gibbs. The district includes Wellington and LaGrange.

There will also be a race in the 9th Congressional District, represented by Democrat Marcy Kaptur. It skirts the lakefront through Lorain County.

In state elections, Ohio’s 55th, 56th and 57th House Districts will be on the primary ballot.

Democrat Joe Miller has already filed to seek another two-year term in the 56th, which covers Lorain, Amherst and Oberlin as well as part of Sheffield Lake. It includes and South Amherst, Kipton and Pittsfield Township.

Two Ohio Supreme Court seats are also on the primary ballot.

At the county level, Probate Court Judge James Walther of Lorain is seeking re-election to a six-year term.

Two Lorain County commissioner seats are up for grabs — those currently occupied by Democrats Sharon Sweda of Amherst and Lori Kokoski of Elyria.

A fight is brewing in the county prosecutor race, with Democratic incumbent Dennis Will of Sheffield Village and Republican challenger Robert Gargasz of Lorain filing early.

Lorain County Sheriff Phil Stammitti of Amherst, a Democrat, is seeking re-election to a four-year term.

County Clerk of Court Tom Orlando, a Democrat hailing from Avon, has filed to seek re-election for another four-year term.

County Recorder Judy Nedwick, an Elyria Democrat, is seeking to retain her office for another four years.

County Engineer Ken Carney, an Amherst Democrat, is also looking to stay in office for four more years.

There are also county treasurer and coroner races slated.

Candidates in all partisan races have until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to file to run.

The deadline is much earlier this election cycle. That’s because the primary, usually held in early May, has been bumped up by two months.

In 2020, it falls on St. Patrick’s Day.

The primary date also means local boards and councils must move more quickly to get issues on the March ballot.

So far:

Rochester Township will ask for a five-year, two-mill renewal of its fire and EMS levy.

Sheffield Township plans to ask for a renewal of its five-year, half-mill ambulance and EMS levy.

The Amherst Public Library is hunting for 0.73 mills over 15 years to pay for an expansion of its Spring Street building. The new money would be used to create a 10,000-square-foot addition on the south side of the library at a cost of roughly $5 million.

The Avon Public Library is asking for an additional two mills over 20 years for construction and expansion.

The Wellington Fire District is seeking a 2.75-mill replacement levy for five years.

The Wellington Schools are debating whether to take a second swing at its $8.7 million combination levy and bond issue, which failed in November.