By DENISE GRANT
Republican races for several Findlay government posts are generating enthusiasm and interest in this year’s elections, but 10 candidates, including two Democrats, are unopposed in Tuesday’s primary election.
Independent candidates can still join the fray. Independents have until 4 p.m. Monday to file candidacy petitions for the November general election ballot.
Unopposed candidates for Findlay City Council seats on Tuesday’s Republican ballot include: Charles “Bud” Haas Jr., of 616 E. Foulke Ave., who is seeking the 1st Ward council seat; 2nd Ward Councilman Dennis Hellmann, of 720 Timber View Drive; 4th Ward Councilman James P. Slough, 304 Greenlawn Ave.; 6th Ward Councilman James Niemeyer, 1004 W. Sandusky St.; and council candidate Joshua V. Palmer, 2306 Beecher St., who is seeking the 7th Ward seat currently held by Tim Watson. Watson is not seeking re-election.
Another unopposed Republican is John Harrington of 510 Church Hill Drive, a councilman for Findlay’s 5th Ward who is running for council president.
Other unopposed Republicans are City Auditor James D. Staschiak, 1000 Washington Ave.; and City Law Director Donald J. Rasmussen, 2330 Windsong Drive.
Two Democrats, Chad Benschoter, 501 Edinborough Drive, a candidate for mayor, and Abigail Hefflinger, 1018 Liberty St., an at-large council candidate, are unopposed in their party’s primary election.
Benschoter, 29, is a small business owner. This is his first run for a public office.
Hefflinger, 35, is a victim rights attorney and formerly worked as a public defender. This is her first attempt to a seek an elected public office.
Background information on the unopposed Republicans:
• Harrington, 61, would replace Council President Ron Monday, who is not seeking another term. No Democrat is running for council president.
Harrington was first elected to council as a write-in candidate in 2013, and is now serving his third term on council. He is a Realtor with Century 21 Koehler & Associates.
• Haas, 63, had a Republican competitor for the 1st Ward council seat until Angela Deboskey was named chief executive officer of the Hancock County United Way and withdrew from the race.
With 1st Ward Councilwoman Holly Frische running for mayor, there is no incumbent in the primary.
Haas is a retired Findlay police officer and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
• Hellmann, 74, is serving his second term on City Council. He worked as the director of external affairs for AT&T in northwestern Ohio.
• Slough, 69, is seeking re-election to a second term in the 4th Ward council post. He served as council president in 2016-17. He previously served one term as 6th Ward councilman and seven terms as an at-large councilman.
He ran against Lydia Mihalik, Brian Robertson and former Mayor Pete Sehnert in the Republican primary for mayor in 2011, a race won by Mihalik. He is a Realtor with ERA Geyer Noakes Realty Group.
• Niemeyer, 63, was appointed to council in November 2014, and is currently seeking his third term as councilman for the 6th Ward. He is employed by Roki of America and owns several rental homes through Niemeyer Enterprises, Findlay. He is the former owner of Needmor Ice and the former Dairy Queen on Lima Avenue.
• Palmer, 37, is a quality technician at Whirlpool Corp. He has not held or sought a public office.
Findlay Council members are elected for two-year terms. Council members’ pay this year is $7,209, and members will receive the same pay raise percentage, if any, as other city employees in 2020.
• Staschiak, 54, is running for a third full four-year term in the city auditor’s office.
He was appointed city auditor by the Republican Party in March 2011 after former Auditor Robert Sprague was appointed as state representative. Staschiak was then elected to a four-year term as auditor in November 2011.
Staschiak defeated former At-Large Councilwoman Anne Spence in the May 2015 Republican primary for auditor. He was then elected to another four-year term in November 2015.
Earlier in his career, Staschiak served as city treasurer, a part-time post, from 2001 until April 2005, when then-Mayor Tony Iriti asked him to be service director, a post he held until September 2006. He later served as treasurer again from 2009 to 2011.
The auditor’s salary will be $82,200 in 2020, with pay raises matching those given to the city’s non-union employees in future years.
• Rasmussen, 59, is a former Findlay city prosecutor who succeeded Law Director Dave Hackenberg in 2011, and was re-elected to another four-year term in 2015.
The law director’s salary will be $120,000 in 2020, with regular pay raises.