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What You Need to Know for the Local Elections

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Election Day is quickly approaching, and Athens voters will have larger decisions than who will live in the White House for the next four years. Several local offices are also in contest this year.

The race to become the next Athens County Commissioner has four contestants. Incumbent Larry Payne (R) is running for another term while three challengers have joined in. Commissioner Payne has been active within Athens County for the last four years with an “open door policy,” his want to stay close to the community.

“I try to be as inviting as possible,” Payne said. “I like working for the county and would like to do so for the next four years.”

Payne’s policies include conserving money through budget cuts while prioritizing job retention for the county.

He and his opponents share policy opinions on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Randy Mace (R) also would like to implement government regulations on fracking. Mace’s priorities also include increasing patrols in the county and installing a traffic light on St. Rt. 33. Chris Chmiel (D) would regulate injection wells in the county, as well as work to improve Athens sewage. Charlie Adkins (D) would work to increase student job opportunities by offering work through camps and programs; in addition, he would work to improve the public transportation and the solid waste project.

The race for county treasurer is between two candidates this year, incumbent Bill Bias (D) and Abe Alassaf (L). Bias is the former Athens city treasurer and has served on the Athens City Council for 18 years. His goal is to remain unbiased and focus on the money collected through levies throughout the county. Alassaf has experience as both a property renter and owner. He aims to count and distribute money fairly, while honestly managing taxes. Alassaf’s winning quality, in his opinion, is his honesty, which is the “biggest thing.”

The race for state representative of the 15th district will have a local candidate: Patrick Lang (D), the city’s law director. He served as the Ohio University undergraduate on Athens’ city council. His goals include fighting for college affordability and encouraging job growth and decrease the outsourcing of jobs that could be done locally. His opponent, Steve Stivers (R) has experience in the military and actively served in the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Stivers previously served in the 15th district, and is running again after defeating Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy in 2008. He is endorsed by the NRA, the National Right to Life, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio State Medical Association.

The Ohio Senate has two candidates on the ballot, Lou Gentile (D) and Shane Thompson (R). Gentile would focus on lowering college tuition and raising water standards of the state. He would also like to work with farmers to aggregate cleaner energy on their farms. Thompson focuses on strengthening the middle class and job growth.

The U.S. Senate ballot has two contenders. Incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) are in a heated election. Debate between the two has become heated and accusative. Brown wishes to increase access to affordable healthcare, keep a strong middle class and return manufacturing jobs back to Ohio. Mandel hopes to remove barriers on federal regulations and begin refining energy exploration.

Two candidates for the Ohio Supreme court include Yvette McGee Brown (D) and Sharon Kennedy (R). Brown is a small business owner in the private business sector and has assisted in the creation of multiple public service programs. Kennedy has been a Butler County Domestic Relations judge since 1999.

Important issues for Athens County include Issue 1, Issue 2 and Issue 20. Issue 1 is part of the constitution which, if passed, creates a convention to amend the Ohio constitution. It was last on the ballot in 1992, but it was defeated. Issue 2, if passed, would create a re-districting committee outside the power of elected officials. The commission would fall to a selected committee of 12 citizens. Issue 20 concerns the Athens schools’ levy. If passed, it would renew $3,200,00 with an increase of $500,000 for use by the school district on buses, staff, utility and budgets.

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