By DENISE GRANT
Only a handful of Hancock County candidates, most of them incumbents, have taken out petitions to seek election in the May 6 primary.
Hancock County will elect a county commissioner, an auditor and two judges this year.
People aren’t required to sign the register when they take out candidacy petitions, said Jody O’Brien, elections board director, so the only true measure of interest will come on Feb. 5, the filing deadline.
As of Friday, Commissioner Phillip Riegle and Auditor Charity Rauschenberg, both Republicans, had taken out petitions.
Riegle is finishing his second, four-year term as a commissioner. Rauschenberg is finishing her second full, four-year term as auditor. She was first appointed to the office for two years in 2004.
Kristen Johnson, a Republican, has already filed for Hancock County Juvenile Court judge, O’Brien said.
Judge Allan Davis, a Republican who was first elected in 1974, will not be eligible to run again due to state age limitations for judges.
Johnson has served as a magistrate for the court since 2010. Prior to 2010, Johnson worked as an assistant Hancock County prosecutor. She began in the civil division of the office in 1993, representing and advising county officials and township trustees. She then moved to the criminal division, where she prosecuted adult felony cases for seven years.
Also up for election is the seat held by Joseph Niemeyer, Hancock County Common Pleas Court judge. Niemeyer, a Republican who was first elected to the bench in 1990, is finishing his fourth, six-year term as judge.
Niemeyer has yet to make an official announcement about whether he plans to pursue re-election, and has not signed the petition registry.
A candidate for judge must be admitted to practice law in Ohio and must practice for at least six years preceding the commencement of his or her first term as judge, or must have served as a judge of a court in any jurisdiction in the United States.
Those seeking election as auditor or commissioner must be a qualified elector of the county.
Those interested in running for office can pick up petitions at the Hancock County Board of Elections office, 201 E. Lincoln St., rear entrance. Major-party candidates need 50 signatures of registered voters in the county.
The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Feb. 5 for party candidates to be placed on the primary ballot.
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