November’s general election is still five months away, but the wheels already are turning as the races begin to heat up.
“I think there are some very exciting races,” said John Elmlinger, Huron County Democratic party vice chairman.
“Starting with the sheriff’s race — that should really generate some excitement,” he added. “It’s the first open sheriff’s race since 1988.”
That race features Republican James Bracken against Democrat Dane Howard.
David Kniffin, Republican chairman, said locally and nationally, there is plenty of excitement.
“Anytime you have an economy like we have, where the county is looking for ways to cut spending and keep services going, that will create a lot of conversation,” Kniffin said.
“All the Republican candidates will work hard, have a game plan in place and I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far from all the candidates,” Kniffin said.
The local races have taken shape.
For county commissioner, Democrat Sharon Ward will face Republican Larry Silcox.
In the other commissioner race, incumbent Republican Gary Bauer faces Independent challenger Jim Sitterly.
In the county treasurer’s race, Democrat Kathleen Schaffer is opposed by Republican Bill Alfred.
Republican Terry Boose will square off against Democrat Thomas Heydinger in a battle for 58th district state representative.
On a national level, it appears Democrat Barack Obama will go up against Republican John McCain for president.
“Well, both are U.S. senators,” Elmlinger said about the presidential race.
“We’ll wait and see what happens in the debates. I hope it doesn’t become a mud pit right off the bat. I think that really turns voters off. With mud-slinging, by the time November gets here the voters don’t know who to vote for.”
Richard Hauser, Democratic Party chairman, said both national parties are likely discussing internally about which person would help the party out most as vice president on the ticket.
Kniffin said two national issues are top priority.
“The issue of the economy — employment — and the international scene — security,” he said. “We need to realize our enemies are not playing by the same rules we are.”
“I believe the Senate has been working more bi-partisan than in years,” Elmlinger said. “I believe they will cross the aisle and work with each other.”
“Everyone is talking about this election — everywhere I go,” Hauser said about the national election.
Locally, Kniffin has his eye on the Boose-Heydinger matchup.
“Both are well-known people with very different personalities and from different walks of life,” he said. “It’s a nice contrast. Terry Boose — a man who has been in private business with a master’s degree in business who has also been a county commissioner, township clerk and knows budgets against a man who has been a judge all his life and used to court-order budgets he needs. We’ll see how it all shakes out.”
Juvenile and Probate Court Judge Timothy Cardwell, Prosecutor Russ Leffler, Coroner Jeff Harwood, Clerk of Courts Susan Hazel, Engineer Joe Kovach and Recorder Karen Fries are all unopposed.
“It’s always hard to find candidates to run against incumbents,” Kniffin said. “And with the engineer’s race, so few people are qualified because you need to be an engineer and have a surveyor’s license.
“And in the prosecutor’s race, those kind of qualified attorneys are working in the private sector for more money,” Kniffin said.
“The county commissioners — that’s a thankless job,” he said. “I respect those folks so much.”
Hauser said, locally, his candidates are working hard and holding fundraisers.
He agreed with Kniffin about finding candidates to run.
“At times, yeah,” he said. “The goal is to fill the complete ticket every election.”