MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Republican Party Central Committee voted Wednesday night to replace one of the party’s Board of Elections members and recommend the removal of another.
On Thursday afternoon, the Board of Elections met to certify candidates and issues for the May primary.
The Republican Party’s Central Committee nominated Jim Oda, the director of the Piqua Public Library, to replace current board member Ryan King of Piqua when his term expires at the end of this month.
After a vote of no-confidence, the committee also recommended the removal of Rob Long. He was appointed to the board in 2017 and has served about half of his four-year term so far.
Both the nomination and recommendation of removal have been forwarded to the Ohio Secretary of State for consideration.
The committee’s actions could replace both Republican members on the Board of Elections following the discovery that 6,288 early ballots cast at the Board of Elections office before the November general election went uncounted.
The Secretary of State’s office found the error in December and notified the board of discrepancies in its voting records.
The Board of Elections voted in January to fire Elections Director Bev Kendall. Following the board’s action, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose placed the board on oversight and opened an investigation of the board and the uncounted votes.
The state’s investigation is ongoing and a representative from LaRose’s office said there is no timeline for the process.
“We want this to be thorough and comprehensive, and will consider the investigation complete only then,” said Jon Keeling, the Secretary of State’s communications director.
At their meeting Thursday evening, the board certified the candidates and issues for the May primary election.
One candidate’s petition was rejected, that of current Third Ward council member John Schweser. Deputy Director Ian Ridgeway said Schweser submitted 31 signatures, but only 22 were validated. Schweser needed 25 signatures. He will have the opportunity to appeal the board’s decision.
Robin Oda and Tom Kendall’s petitions to run as Republican candidates for mayor were certified. Petitions from Sixth Ward incumbent Brock Heath and challenger Jeff Schilling were accepted for the May Republican Primary.
William Lutz will run unopposed for the president of council seat. Lutz currently serves as an at-large council member. Fourth Ward council member Bobby Phillips and Fifth Ward’s William Twiss all filed for their respective seats and will run unopposed.
William Rozell, Lynne Snee and incumbent Todd Severt were certified to run for the three at-large seats on Troy City Council.
Law director Grant Kerber and Auditor John Frigge refiled to seek re-election and were certified.
Candidates for the First Ward seat, Republican Zach Allen and Democrat Russ Wheeler, were certified. In the Second Ward, incumbent Republican John Twilliger and Democrat Cynthia Schaefer, were also certified. Both races will be decided in the November general election.
After a question about whether the Democratic candidates who are unopposed in the primary should appear on the May ballot, a representative from the Secretary of State’s office said they would check to see if those candidates must be included.
Board Chairman Dave Fisher said he thought that unopposed candidates only appear on the primary ballot when their party has a contested race on the primary ballot.
In other business, the board voted to extend the same 2.5 percent pay increase to its employees that the Miami County Commissioners approved for county workers. The increase will be retroactive to the first of the year.
The board also received an updated quote on voting equipment from Clear Ballot. According to Ridgeway, the new quote is $1,091,960. The county has been offered $1,096,490 by the state for new equipment.
“So the county would be out no money?” Chairman Dave Fisher asked Ridgeway.
“The county would be out no money,” Ridgeway confirmed.
King said he would like to see more details about the quote, including numbers of equipment included. “I think there’s a fair amount of work going into making sure we’re buying the right thing,” he said.
He added that the Secretary of State’s office recommended that the board keep using its current system for the May primary, which he said gives the board more time to finalize the details of its new equipment order.