MANSFIELD -- Voters will encounter a packed ballot at the upcoming Nov. 6 election, with local candidates and issues side-by-side with major statewide races.
The biggest race affecting the state of Ohio is the governor's race, primarily between Democrats Richard Cordray and Betty Sutton facing off with Republicans Mike DeWine and Jon Husted. Other statewide positions up for grabs include attorney general, auditor of state, secretary of state, treasurer of state, U.S. senator, and congressional representatives for the 7th and 12th districts.
In Richland County, the most contested races come from the commissioners and the court of common pleas, while two school districts will be vying for state funding for new facilities.
Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John is up for reelection this year, after first being elected to the position in 2015. Prior to that, John served as mayor of Shelby. Running against John is Democrat Becky Hergatt, a registered nurse most recently in the home health field. Hergatt has also served as a Crestview Local Schools board member.
The Richland County Court of Common Pleas is looking for a new judge. Voters will choose between Independent Kelly Badnell, a Mansfield attorney; Republican Andrea Clark, a magistrate in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas; and Democrat Phil Naumoff, the current Mansfield Municipal Court magistrate. The candidates will replace retiring Judge James DeWeese.
Two Richland County school districts will be asking voters for new school facilities on Nov. 6. Lexington Local Schools will be making their first ask with a 8.6 mil, 37-year bond issue on the ballot that would build two new school buildings. A proposed $79.9 million plan would call for one building housing pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, and another for grades seventh through 12.
At the same time, Shelby City Schools will be making its third and final ask for a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building. The difference between this 2.8 mil, 37-year bond issue and the two previous attempts is this proposal only addresses the new school building, not the rebuild of a crumbling W.W. Skiles Field.
Finally, in Ontario voters will be considering a 0.25 percent increase on their municipal income tax for the purpose of road repairs and maintenance. If passed, the tax has the potential to raise between $500,000 and $600,000 annually for residential road repairs.
The extensive ballot combined with the fact that the election falls mid-term in the current presidency leaves Board of Elections Director Paulette Hankins preparing for a large voter turnout.
"We're expecting probably about a 58 percent turnout, maybe even up to 60 percent," Hankins said. "I think it's because of the overall political climate in the country, and the state candidates are fairly close in the polls on both sides."
In past gubernatorial election years, the 2010 election between incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican John Kasich saw a 48 percent voter turnout in Richland County. In the 2014 election between incumbent Kasich and Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the turnout was only 37 percent.
Hankins said the Board of Elections has already been busy; since early voting began on Oct. 10, the office has had an average of 250 voters per day, and received 7,266 absentee ballots as of Monday evening.
"We do the same amount of work whether it's a 10 percent turnout or 90 percent turnout, so we love it," Hankins said. "We'd much prefer a higher turnout for each election."
For more information on polling places and to view a sample ballot, visit the Richland County Board of Elections website.