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County commission race causes confusion

Commissioner hopefuls face at least one challenge other than campaigning during the weeks left before November’s General Election.

Thursday, October 26, 2000

Commissioner hopefuls face at least one challenge other than campaigning during the weeks left before November’s General Election.

There are two separate commission races – not just one where the top vote getters take office.

Several candidates have expressed concern that voters might become confused when they step into the ballot booth.

That’s a legitimate concern, said Dave Lucas, who teaches political communication at Ohio University Southern Campus.

"This is what happens a a lot," Lucas said. "They get in there and see these names and say, ‘I didn’t know had to vote on that.’"

"It’s the same with the commissioners ‘I just didn’t realize I had to vote on two different races, I thought it was just one for all.’"

And, it seems that a lot of the people working the candidates’ campaigns have to explain there are two seats up for grabs, he said.

"I think people are a little confused about what seats are open and who’s running in them."

First, there are two races:

– Incumbent George Patterson, a Democrat, will square off on the Nov. 7 ballot against Republican challenger Les Boggs.

– Democrat Ron James and Republican Jason Stephens are facing each other in the race for commission President Bruce Trent’s seat. Trent declined to run a second time this year.

On the ballot, one race will be listed right under the other, Lawrence County Election Board officials said. Voters can cast a ballot in each race because they are separate races, they said.

The bottom line is voters need to check who’s running for what, especially in the commissioners race, Lucas said.

And it’s a hot one, he said.

There’s a real perception that the candidates are very active this year and they’re all likable people, said Lucas, who has been going around the county talking politics with voters.

"For those of us who are politically inclined, it’s exciting to watch, he said.

Once winners in the races are declared, the first commissioner will take office Jan. 2 and the second commissioner will take office Jan. 3, election officials said.

State law puts the beginning of each of the three commissioners’ terms one day apart so that at all times after an election, there are always two commissioners sitting on the board.