Ohioans will go to the polls Tuesday in this year's primary election, and while the statewide ballot holds little suspense, there are a couple of local races which are proving to be interesting.
There are no real surprises in the race for governor. The incumbent ticket of John Kasich and Mary Taylor is running unopposed for the Republican nomination. While Kasich and Taylor will have a clear path to November, Democrats around the state will be choosing between the pairings of Edward FitzGerald and Sharen Swartz Neuhardt, and Larry Ealy and Ken Gray. The Green Party pairing is Anita Rios and Bob Fitrakis, but they're running as write-ins.
Taylor offered a glimpse of the issues that will dominate this fall's campaign when she spoke in Steubenville during the April 24 Lincoln Day Dinner at Froehlich's Classic Corner. She discussed how she and Kasich have cut taxes and improved the business climate in the state. She also talked about Obamacare, and how it represents a step backward for business and residents in Ohio and the rest of the country.
That continued discussion should make for an interesting campaign this fall, whichever ticket Ohio Democrats select.
Closer to home, there are more spirited races on the county level. For example, longtime Auditor Patrick J, Marshall is facing a primary challenge by fellow Democrat Scott M. Renforth on the Democratic side. Also on the Democratic side, Joseph J. Corabi is unopposed in his race for probate and juvenile judge, longtime incumbent Democrat Joseph J. Bruzzese is unopposed in his race for common pleas court judge that begins on Feb. 9 and incumbent Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham is unopposed in his race for his party's nomination.
The most interesting local race, however, involves the Jan. 1 common pleas judge's seat, which will be vacant when David Henderson retires at the end of the year. There are three Democrats seeking their party's nomination Tuesday - Craig Allen, Michelle Garcia Miller and Lydia E. Spragin. Each brings a unique perspective and varied experience to the race, which gives voters something to really think about.
Here's what's most disappointing about the countywide races, though - no Republican filed for any of those offices.
That means barring an independent candidate filing the proper paperwork for any of those races before Monday's deadline, the winners of Tuesday's primaries will be the defacto winners of November's general election. And that's sad, because our system works best when there are robust races and choices, which we more than likely won't have in November,
That said, its still important to get out and vote Tuesday. Consider: It's not all that often Jefferson County voters have the opportunity to select a new common pleas court judge, which they will have the opportunity to do this time around (at least those who vote as Democrats.)
Plus, there are some interesting levies and issues that will appear on ballots around the county. That includes a 5.9-mill, five-year levy in the Edison Local School District; a 0.5-mill renewal levy for the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School; and a 1-mill renewal and 0.2-mill increase countywide for senior citizen services.
Residents of several communities, meanwhile, will get to vote on electric and gas aggregation; voters in Wintersville will vote on a 2-mill renewal for fire protection and emergency services; and voters in Wells Township will vote on a replacement levy of 2 mills for police protection.
Voters have a chance Tuesday to make decisions about offices and issues that will affect them on the local level, from their village to school district to county.
If you're registered, vote Tuesday, and let your voice be heard.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)