Ohio Early Voting Begins Wednesday

Photo by Miranda Sebroski Standing in front of the Belmont County Board of Elections office are Belmont County Democrat Party Chairman Phil Wallace, left, and Belmont County Republican Party Chairman David Jones.

MARTINS FERRY — Ohio voters have a lot to consider this November, including who should be the next governor, who should represent them in Congress, whether to approve new tax levies and more.

But they don’t have to wait until Election Day on Nov. 6 to cast their ballots.

Early voting in Ohio begins Wednesday and will last until Nov. 5. Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming election. All registered voters in Ohio can request and vote an absentee ballot in person at their county board of elections headquarters.

“We are in a critical moment this year in our state of Ohio,” Belmont County Democratic Party Chairman Phil Wallace has said. “Voters have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of our state for years to come. … All of us can fix the corruption and chaos emanating from Columbus.

“We can take on the task of restoring cuts to local governments — funds that have caused out cities and villages to make cuts in their budgets for the past several years.”

Belmont County Republican Party Chairman David Jones said Saturday it is important for everyone to exercise their right to vote, as people in some other countries do not get the opportunity.

“We have all kinds of opportunities to vote. There is no excuse not to vote. We should feel proud we live in a great country and can vote,” Jones said.

In the three-way governor’s race, candidates include Democrat Richard Cordray and his running mate Betty Sutton; Republican Mike DeWine and his running mate Jon Husted; and Green Party candidate Constance Gadwell Newton and her running mate Brett R. Joseph, and Libertarian Travis M. Irvine and J. Todd Grayson.

Other statewide races on the ballot are: Attorney General — Democrat Steve Dettelbach vs. Republican Dave Yost; Auditor of State — Republican Keith Faber vs. Democrat Zack Space; Secretary of State — Democrat Kathleen Clyde and Frank LaRose; Treasurer of State — a three-way race among Paul Curry, Democrat Rob Richardson and Republican Robert Sprague.

Ohio voters also will choose who will fill two state Supreme Court seats. Those races feature Mary DeGenaro vs. Melody J. Stewart and Craig Baldwin vs. Michael P. Donnelly.

At the federal level, there is a three-way race for U.S. Senate: Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown, Green Party candidate Philena Irene Farley and Republican Jim Renacci.

In the U.S. Representative race are incumbent Republican Bill Johnson vs. Democrat Shawna Roberts of Belmont.

A state-level race for the Ohio House of Representatives in the 95th District is a contest between Republican Don Jones of Freeport and Democrat Dan Milleson of Cadiz.

In the state representative race for the 96th District race, incumbent Democrat Jack Cera of Bellaire now is the only candidate for voters to choose, as Republican Bob Mazeroski recently dropped out of the race. Mazeroski’s name still will appear on the ballot, but votes for him will not be counted.

Ohio voters also will consider whether to approve Issue 1, which is a proposed constitutional amendment that calls for reducing penalties for crimes of obtaining, possessing and using illegal drugs. According to the ballot language, if adopted, the amendment would:

∫ Require sentence reductions of incarcerated individuals, except individuals incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, by up to 25 percent if the individual participates in rehabilitative, work, or educational programming.

∫ Mandate that criminal offenses of obtaining, possessing, or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, but only a misdemeanor;

∫ Prohibit jail time as a sentence for obtaining, possessing, or using such drugs until an individual’s third offense within 24 months.

∫ Allow an individual convicted of obtaining, possessing, or using any such drug prior to the effective date of the amendment to ask the court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, regardless of whether the individual has completed the sentence;

∫ Require any available funding, based on projected savings, to be applied to state-administered rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds; and

∫ Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time for minor, non-criminal probation violations.

Opponents of the proposed amendment say such matters are better handled by the Ohio General Assembly, where laws can be enacted without amending the Ohio Constitution. They also say the measure would prevent judges from using the scope of their authority when handling drug-related cases and would eliminate the possibility of jail time as an incentive for drug users to seek rehabilitation.

In Belmont County, there is a county commissioner race on the ballot. Incumbent Democrat Mark A. Thomas is facing a challenge from Republican Jerry Echemann. There is also one three-way race for Eastern Division Court judge. Daniel Balgo of St. Clairsville, David Trouten of St. Clairsville and Joseph A. Vavra of Bridgeport all are seeking the seat on the bench.

St. Clairsville voters have a big decision to make regarding a tax levy for the St. Clairsville-Richland City School District. The 8.56-mill levy is expected to raise nearly $80 million for the district’s plans for a new school complex. The levy would continue for 37 years.

If that levy passes, the district has said it would later ask voters to approve other smaller levies: a 1.41-mill levy for an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a 0.5-mill operating levy for the pool.

In Jefferson County, there is a county commissioner race between incumbent Democrat Thomas E. Graham and Martin Sohovich. There is also a county auditor race between Republican E.J. Conn and Democrat Scott M. Renforth.

In the city of Toronto, voters will consider renewing a 0.5-mill levy for recreational purposes related to the swimming pool, shelter house and maintenance.

In Monroe County, there is a county commissioner race. Republican Mitchell “Mick” Schumacher of Woodsfield is the incumbent being challenged by Democrat Ron Taylor of Woodsfield. The auditor race is between incumbent Democrat Pandora Neuhart of Woodsfield and Republican Valerie Sefert of Sardis.

Tax levies up for consideration in Monroe County include:

∫ Beallsville Village renewal of current operating expenses, 8.5 mills;

∫ Salem Township (including Clarington Corporation ) additional fire levy, 1 mill;

∫ Salem Township (excluding Clarington Corporation) renewal cemetery levy, 1 mill;

∫ Clarington Village renewal of current expenses levy, 3 mill; and

∫ Monroe County additional EMS levy, 0.5 mill.

In Harrison County, there is a race for county auditor between Republican Allison Anderson and Democrat Patrick J. Moore. There also is a race for county commissioner between Democrat Danny L. Henry and incumbent Republican Don R. Bethel.

Harrison County voters will also consider renewing a 1-mill tax levy for the Puskarich Public Library.

Cadiz Township has three renewal levies up for consideration including a 0.44-mill levy for Cadiz Union Cemetery maintenance, a 1-mill levy for Cadiz Union Cemetery maintenance and a 1-mill levy for fire equipment.

Franklin Township is asking for renewal of a 0.5-mill levy and a 0.5-mill levy increase, all for the cemetery maintenance and operations.

There are several other renewal levies up for consideration throughout the county.

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