Section: News

Ohio primaries: Meet the candidates and their positions

March 17, the Tuesday after Kenyon students return from spring break, is the date of the primary election for Knox County and the rest of Ohio. Ohio has open primary laws that allow voters to choose their party at the voting booth. Below are compiled statements from all the Knox County persons up for competitive elections, and a small description of their policy stances. Some positions are uncontested, and those will not be examined here.

County Commissioner: The position of Commissioner holds vital importance to the everyday functionings of local government by acting as an executive board. The Commissioners oversee public works, the courts, and various other administrative duties. Two out of the three commissioner seats are up for election this year.

Teresa Bemiller (R): Having served three terms and looking for a fourth, Bemiller has worked for the office since 2008. She is from Mount Vernon, and “represents Knox County on the Area Development Board of Directors, Emergency Food and Shelter Board, Family and Children First Council, 911 Advisory Council, Knox Substance Abuse Action Team (KSAAT) Community Committee, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) member, and various more.”

Eric Wisyanski (R): A Navy veteran, Wisyanski is “a strong supporter of our troops, veterans, 1st responders, jobs & economic growth, education, Pro-Life and the 2nd Amendment,” according to his campagin’s Facebook page. “I have zero tolerance for crime, drugs and corruption or dishonesty by those in power.”

Thom Collier (R): Incumbent Collier comes from a real estate and property management background, and lists his stances on the Commissioners’ website as pro-life, pro-business, pro-second amendment, fiscally conservative and agriculturally friendly.

Barry D Lester (R): A native of Mount Vernon, Lester is seeking his first term as County Commissioner.

Sheriff: Tasked with county security, the county Sheriff oversees the local deputy force, jail operations, and works with communities to prevent crime.

David Shaffer (R): Incumbent Shaffer has worked for the Knox County Sheriff’s department since 1985, beginning full-time as a midnight patrol deputy, patrol sergeant, lieutenant, commander in charge of patrol, records and civil process, and then captain before being elected Sheriff. The National Sheriff’s Association, an organization representing the interests of Sheriffs across the U.S., recognized Shaffer’s service with their medal of valor, as has the Ohio Attorney General, who awarded Shaffer the Law Enforcement Group Achievement Award during his time as captain.

Daniel J Weckesser (R): As Chief of Police in Danville, Weckesser sees jailing street-level dealers, protecting people’s guns by pushing against red flag laws and Sheriff community interaction as the primary issues of his campaign. In an interview with the Collegian, Weckesser expressed that he is not concerned about marijuana use so long as it isn’t by underage persons or when one is driving, but he believes that harder drugs destroy families, addicts need rehabilitation and dealers should go to jail. He sees the preventative role of officers as providing help and advice to persons, suspicious or not, and he wants to promote Block Watches, which are groups of community members who monitor their neighborhoods for suspicious behavior.   

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Probate/Juvenile: The Court of Common Pleas deals with probate/juvenile cases surrounding issues of unruliness, abuse, neglect, dependency, custody, and delinquency, relating to people under the age of 18. The Court also hears cases from underage persons that commit crimes.

John S Dilts (R): A general practice lawyer of 31 years, Dilts, father of two, has worked as a lawyer in the court of Common Pleas Probate/Juvenile to find solutions for the people of Knox County. He sees many parents with drug abuse habits who require grandparents to take care of their children. He believes that mental health must be addressed with adequate nursing care for the elderly, and that medication in combination with counseling should be provided to those with mental health issues.

Jay W Nixon (R): Incumbent, Mount Vernon native and former Knox magistrate Nixon is running for his second term as judge and is committed to addressing the drug crisis in Knox County. “One of the best ways to attack that [problem] is from the juvenile court. Get out to the kids before they get addicted. We have a drug court, and we educate them and support them before they are on heroin and meth. We do a good job of educating, and I hope that we can change the next generation.”

Congressional Representative: One of these candidates will be elected to the United States House of Representatives for the 7th district of Ohio, so that they may vote on national legislation in the halls of Congress.

Bob Gibbs (R): Incumbent Gibbs has been serving Knox County in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2010, and stands for reducing government regulation for business growth, limiting federal spending, lowering the corporate tax rate, expanding the second amendment for law-abiding citizens, protecting the right to life after 20 weeks, encouraging the development of natural resources including coal, and doing whatever it takes to prevent Iran from harming America or Israel with nuclear weapons. Gibbs supports the repeal of Obamacare, and wants to reform the healthcare system to encourage more private sector competition.

Brandon Lape (L): Lape, a desktop support technician at Ariel Corporation, will prioritize restoring civil liberties to individuals, reduce the debt spending in government from both political parties, and address social entitlement and welfare reform. As someone with a mother who would not be able to afford medication without Medicare, Lape thinks it could be reformed or replaced, but that he too should work harder to reduce the burden of government spending on his family.

State Representative: The State Representative will acknowledge and advocate for the concerns of their constituents, and develop legislation to resolve those concerns in cooperation with representatives from other districts.

Rick Carfagna (R): Running for his second term, incumbent Carfagna grew up in Columbus, and prides himself on being a fiscal conservative who has helped residences and businesses save money on gas bills and has mediated tax conflicts between villages and townships.

Steven F Mount (D): A senior partner at Squire Patton Boggs, a large international law firm, Mount works in the tax industry, representing tax credit investor groups and counseling real estate investment acquisitions.

Judge of the Court of Appeals: Knox county rests within the 5th district Court of Appeals, which makes rulings regarding state-bound cases and comes before the Ohio Supreme Court. As an immediate appellate court, the Court of Appeals deals with administrative, agency or juvenile cases that have been appealed.

Jeff Furr (R): A head of a legal practice for over 20 years, intellectual property attorney Furr has presented cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit, and is running for the judge position to interpret the law and serve his community.

William B Hoffman (D): Incumbent Hoffman has served as a Canton Municipal Court Judge, prosecuting attorney, worked for a private practice and has sat on this judge seat for 29 years. On Hoffman’s Judicial Votes Count page he states, “I have consistently received high evaluations of my judicial performance from my local lawyers’ bar association … and participated in more than 10,000 decisions for the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals.”


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