Most Hancock County elected positions will be on the ballot in the March 2020 primary election.

The deadline for partisan candidates to file petitions for the primary is 4 p.m. Dec. 18, according to the Hancock County Board of Elections.

Historically, many county candidates are unopposed in the primary, but there will be at least two Republican races next year:

• Sheriff Michael Heldman will face challengers Tim Saltzman and Verl Warnimont. Heldman is serving his sixth four-year term.

• Hancock County Commissioner Mark Gazarek, seeking a third term, will face a second challenge from William Bateson.

Gazarek defeated Bateson in the 2016 general election, when Bateson ran as an independent candidate.

Other officeholders up for election in March include Commissioner Brian Robertson, Common Pleas Judge Jonathan Starn, Prosecutor Phillip Riegle, Engineer Doug Cade, Clerk of Courts Cathy Wilcox, Recorder Tracy Coldren, Treasurer J. Steve Welton and Coroner Dr. Mark Fox. All are Republicans.

Judge Starn is completing an unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2020, following the retirement of Judge Joseph Niemeyer. Starn will be on the Republican ballot in March, but would not be identified by party in the November general election.

Engineer Cade is also completing an unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2020.

People who want to run for any of these positions can learn about candidate requirements by going to the secretary of state’s website at Click on “Publications” at the top, scroll down, click on Candidates and click on 2020 Candidate Requirement Guide.

As an example, a candidate for Hancock County sheriff has to acquire 50 valid signatures on candidacy petitions obtained from the elections board.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, a candidate for sheriff must:

• Be a U.S. citizen.

• Be a county resident for at least one year immediately prior to the qualification date.

• Have a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalence.

• Have not been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony or any offense involving “moral turpitude” under state or federal laws, and have not “been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense that is a misdemeanor of the first degree” under any state or the federal law.

• Meet at least one of the following conditions:

• Have a current valid peace officer certificate of training issued by the state peace officer training commission, or have been issued a certificate of training pursuant to state law;

• Been employed full-time by a law enforcement agency performing duties related to the enforcement of statutes, ordinances, or codes for a minimum of 13 consecutive pay periods within the four-year period prior to the qualification date.

• Meet at least one of the following conditions:

• Have at least two consecutive years of supervisory experience as a peace officer at the rank of sergeant or above.

• Have completed a bachelor’s degree in any field, or have an associate degree in law enforcement or criminal justice.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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