Dayton school board, many other races have too few candidates

At least a dozen local villages, townships and school boards — including Dayton’s school board — do not have enough certified candidates running for office in November to fill all the seats up for election, according to local board of election documents.

But if people want to run as write-in candidates, potentially with no opposition, they have a week left to file documents, and election officials say the process is not very difficult.

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“Write-in candidates do not need to circulate petitions and gather signatures,” said Rob Nichols, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. “They only file the Declaration of Intent to be a Write-In Candidate — Form 13.”

The most prominent case of “too few candidates” is the Dayton school board race, where only three candidates’ names will be printed on the November ballot, despite four seats up for election.

Current board member Jocelyn Rhynard, past board member Joe Lacey and newcomer Chrisondra Goodwine had their candidacy certified Monday by the Montgomery County Board of Elections. With no one else’s name on the ballot, that almost assures that they’ll win three of the four seats.

The board of elections rejected the Dayton school board petitions of Crystal Phillips for not having enough valid signatures. And incumbent school board member Karen Wick-Gagnet withdrew her petitions before Monday’s board of elections meeting because a technical problem with her documents made them likely to be rejected.

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Reached later Monday, Wick-Gagnet said she does plan to file the necessary documents by the 4 p.m. Aug. 23 deadline to run as a write-in candidate. Under Ohio elections law, votes for a write-in candidate are only counted if the person filed a valid declaration of intent.

Miami County Elections Director Laura Bruns said the write-in process is simple.

“They file the paper that says I want to be a write-in, and that’s all it takes,” Bruns said. “They pay the same filing fee (as regular candidates), and have to live in the district, be the age required, all those other requirements.”

In theory, if a race doesn’t have enough candidates, and only one person files as a write-in candidate, that person would be elected simply by voting for herself. But in contested races, winning is much harder.

“It’s easy to file (as a write-in),” Bruns said. “The hard part is notifying voters that they actually need to write your name in, because your name doesn’t appear on the ballot. It’s just a space.”

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Among the races with too few certified candidates are Jefferson Twp. school board (1 candidate for 3 spots), Piqua school board (2 for 3 spots), Bradford school board (2 for 3 spots), and Milton-Union school board (1 for 2 spots).

But it’s not just a school issue. In Montgomery County, the New Lebanon council, Phillipsburg council and Clay Twp. fiscal officer races don’t have enough candidates.

In Miami County, the West Milton village council and Union Twp. board of trustees don’t have enough candidates, while the Washington Twp, trustees race will only have one candidate printed on the ballot for two seats, but one write-in candidate has already been approved.

If no one files as a write-in candidate, and the election doesn’t produce enough people to populate the school board or council or board of trustees, Bruns said the body in question simply appoints a person of their choosing to fill the first two years of the vacancy.

Anyone interested in running for office as a write-in candidate should contact their county board of elections before 4 p.m. Aug. 23.

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