Thinking about running for local office? Deadlines near

Residents who want to have a say about a street project or a new park development face upcoming filing deadlines to be on this November’s ballot for councils, school boards and other local offices.

There’s less than six weeks remaining for most people to file petitions. The filing deadline for all Butler County communities, except for Middletown and Hamilton, is Aug. 9. Middletown and Hamilton’s filing deadline is Aug. 24, according to their respective charters.

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There are 16 races around Butler County that have the potential of being contested, though only one — Middletown Municipal Court — truly is at this point.

Over the past two municipal-year elections, there were more than 20 contested races in each election out the dozens of races voters were to decide.

It's too early to predict voter turnout in the November 2017 election, but historically between 20 and 35 percent of registered voters actually cast a ballot. Statewide issues, however, tend to drive voters to the polls in local election years. In 2015, there were three statewide issues and Butler County's voter turnout exceeded 40 percent. There's at least one statewide issue this November, the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act.

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However, local-year elections — the ones that impact people the most — are overshadowed by the national elections, such as for Congress and the president, said John Forren, Miami University Regionals political science professor. Upwards of 70 percent of registered voters turnout in these elections.

“And that is where the bulk of media coverage of politics is focused as well,” he said. “But really, if we want to look at where most of the decisions are made that actually affect our lives on a day-to-day basis, we should look instead at local government, where locally elected officials make critically important decisions about the laws that we live under and the quality of life that we enjoy.”

Forren said these local elections are where one vote really does make a difference. There were 112 races in Ohio over the past three years that were either tied or decided by one vote, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

Butler County’s two major political parties believe government starts at the local level.

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“In Ohio local elections don’t delineate candidates by party affiliation as local candidates often win by name recognition, community involvement and/or good campaigns,” said Butler County GOP Executive Chairman Todd Hall. “However, in our county, constituents generally want conservative policy outcomes at all levels of government. That is why our party has proven conservatives ready to represent at every level to serve our communities.”

The lion’s share of locally elected officials — at the city, village, township and school board levels — are Republicans.

Democratic Party spokesman Brian Hester said developing a more representative county, state and country starts in these local elections.

“Electing local officials is not only an important way for the party to develop its bench for higher offices, but these local officials help make the case that our party is addressing the needs of our community in ways the other side has been unable or refused to do,” he said.

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