Summit County voters will see some well-known names on the Sept. 10 primary ballot, including several candidates trying for new seats.
Jon Poda, a former Summit County Council member, is among four candidates running for clerk of Barberton Municipal Court.
Cuyahoga Falls Councilman Don Walters will give up his seat to challenge Mayor Don Robart.
And, Natural Hunka Kaboom, who made headlines last year when the aluminum walking stick bearing his name prompted an evacuation of Akron City Hall, is vying for the Ward 5 Akron council seat.
These are among the highlights of the candidates who filed petitions with the Summit County Board of Elections on Wednesday, which was the deadline for the Sept. 10 primary. Petitions must still be certified by the board.
The Barberton clerk’s race drew a lot of interest, setting up primary battles for both parties. Diana Stevenson, a Republican, will face off against Larry Ashbaugh. Poda will compete with state Rep. Zack Milkovich, D-Akron, who is serving his second term in Columbus.
Stevenson, who was appointed in January 2012, oversees an office of 14 people. She said she isn’t surprised by the interest in her seat “because it’s a really great office to hold and the employees are wonderful. ... I don’t want to leave.”
“We’ve done lots of things in the office and adopted a lot of programs,” said Stevenson, a former magistrate in Summit County Probate Court. “I think we’re doing a lot of good work here, and I’d like to see it through.”
Poda, who resigned from Summit County Council in 2011 to become deputy fiscal officer of weights and measures with the county Fiscal Office, cited his experience in county government as well as 20 years in real estate as reasons he’s qualified.
“I’ve been real effective getting more bang for the buck in the current office I serve in,” he said, adding that he would try to accomplish the same in the clerk’s office.
Ashbaugh, of New Franklin, made an unsuccessful run at Summit County Council last year. He is a retired Army intelligence officer who later managed programs for veterans for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Milkovich was elected to a second term in 2012. Neither he nor Ashbaugh could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Summit County Councilman Tim Crawford, who pulled petitions for clerk, opted against running.
“I was contemplating it, but I guess I just feel now is not the right time,” he said.
Akron council, which has all 10 ward and the three at-large seats on the ballot, drew 41 candidates.
One surprise was Councilman Bruce Kilby’s decision to run at-large, rather than trying to retain his Ward 2 seat. His ward was redrawn, and he would have been forced to run against Councilman Jim Hurley III, who currently represents Ward 1.
“They screwed up my ward — took away my base,” said Kilby, who has 16 years on the council and went through a ward boundary change one other time. “I would have won in 2, but it would have been an uphill battle. ... I figure I’ll run at-large and see what happens.”
Kilby said he might run as a slate with at-large council members Mike Williams and Linda Omobien. They are among eight at-large candidates, split evenly among the two major parties.
“We offer checks and balances as opposed to some people who are 100 percent pro-Plusquellic,” Kilby said, referring to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. “It’s not that we are necessarily against the mayor; we just don’t think he’s always right.”
The council will have at least one new member, with the redrawing of the boundaries creating a new Ward 1 that encompasses Highland Square.
Six people, five of them Democrats, filed to run. Interestingly, three of the candidates live on the same street: North Highland Avenue.
Every ward council seat has competition, though three out of 10 won’t have primaries and three face no challenge in the November general election. Ward 5 attracted the most candidates, with seven, including incumbent Councilman Ken Jones and Kaboom, a regular speaker at council meetings who is active in the community.
Robart, a Republican and the longtime mayor of Cuyahoga Falls, will face competition for the first time since 2005. Walters, the Ward 6 councilman, isn’t running from a safe seat because his position also is on the ballot, meaning the Falls council will have at least one new member.
The only other contested mayoral race in the county is in New Franklin, where incumbent Al Bollas is being challenged by Terry Harget, a current Ward 2 councilman who is giving up his seat to run, and Bob Lockhart, a former township trustee who was a write-in mayoral candidate in 2010.
Tallmadge also will have at least one new officeholder, with Councilman-at-large Jack Sarver deciding to end his 14-year tenure at the end of this year.
Sarver said he decided against running again because a wise man once told him “someone who participates in a volunteer leadership organization for much longer than 10 years is doing it for more than the good of the community.”
“At some point, it becomes about ego,” he said, and “I didn’t want to fall into that.”
Sarver, a former Democrat who became a Republican in 2010, said, “We have some young folks on council who have some really good ideas, and I just think it’s time for me to step aside.”