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Burcham, seeking to unseat Stephens

There will be a rematch in the November general election, just not the one expected.

On Friday County Treasurer Stephen Burcham picked up a petition to run again for County Auditor against incumbent Jason Stephens. This will be the second time the two have sought the office that carries the fourth highest county officeholder’s salary.

“I did pick a petition up,” Burcham said. “We are completing it. I’m planning to file.”

Stephens was elected auditor in 2010 after three terms as county commissioner defeating Burcham with 55.26 percent of the vote or 9,764 to Burcham’s 7,906.

In that race Burcham had campaigned on putting financial records on the Internet and switching the county from its cash basis financial reporting to the general accepted accounting principles for government entities.

That was the first time the two county officials had ever faced off. Stephens has won every election as county commissioner since his first race in 2002. Burcham is in his third-consecutive term as county treasurer.

“I think we have worked really hard the past few years in the county auditor’s office to improve a lot of the operations and infrastructures,” Stephens said. “I hope the voters of Lawrence County will see that and recognize that and give me the opportunity for a second term this fall.”

Earlier this month it looked as if current County Commissioner Freddie Hayes and former two-term commissioner Doug Malone would be squaring off for a second time.

In the 2012 general election Hayes beat Malone, who was seeking his third nonconsecutive term on the commission. Malone had been beaten in 2010 by Paul Herrell. Following the death of Herrell in February 2012, Hayes was appointed to the commission.

Malone had picked up a petition to run in the fall, but has decided to postpone his bid to get back on commission until 2016.

Now Hayes may have competition in the general election and the Republican primary, the latter possibly by Herrell’s son-in-law, Wayne Taylor.

“I am looking into it,” Taylor said. “I have only got a few days. I really have privately tried to look into these things and be prudent about it and not hastily jump into it.”

This would be Taylor’s first attempt at a county office. The electronics engineer currently is fiscal officer for Aid Township and served on the Symmes Valley Board of Education for eight years.

“I have a few more things to lay to rest,” he said. “It is something I have been interested in. I think there is an opportunity to do it. I don’t want to hastily do something. I don’t want to make waves, if it is right for me and right for my family.”

Businessman Tim Edwards is currently circulating petitions for a possible run for Hayes’ seat on the Democratic side.

Edwards is owner of Tim’s Gas and Go on State Route 93.

“Since I have been in business and come in contact with so many people, I see a lot of things that local government needs to change,” Edwards said. “We are circulating petitions, checking out our support. We are headed that way. I want to ensure we will have some support from the people of Lawrence County.”

Deadline to file is Feb. 5. The county auditor at a salary of $70,830 is preceded by the salaries of Common Pleas Judges, County Prosecuting Attorney and County Engineer. County Commissioners make $55,524 a year and are ranked seventh.