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Township races vary in numbers seeking election

November 5, 2011
By Evan Bevins ( , The Marietta Times

The two times she sought re-election, Waterford Township Fiscal Officer Carolyn Offenberger was unopposed.

But in her first race, she was far from the only candidate running to fill the seat being vacated after more than 20 years.

"When I ran in '99 ... there were seven of us running," Offenberger recalled.

Now that Offenberger, 65, is ready to retire, a crop of four candidates is seeking to take her place. There was a fifth whose candidacy was ruled invalid by the Washington County Board of Elections.

While more than half of the 44 township races in the county - 22 trustees and 22 fiscal officers - have but one candidate, 18 have at least two. Waterford and Warren townships both have a quartet of fiscal officer candidates, while Fearing and Muskingum townships have five people seeking one trustee seat.

The numbers vary from one township and election to the next. For example, in 2009, 10 people ran for two Independence Township trustee slots. This year, only incumbent Frank Haught is on the ballot.

Fact Box

Crowded fields

Fearing Township Trustee

Eugene C. Biehl (incumbent).

Robert E. Davison.

Rick G. Groves.

James Seevers.

David A. Warren.

Muskingum Township Trustee

Gary Doan (incumbent).

Rick Dunbarger.

Mike Gulliver.

Pat Huck.

Mike Lee.

Warren Township Fiscal Officer

Amy D. McKenzie.

Scott B. Reynolds.

Karen K. Wentz.

Jim Williams.

Waterford Township Fiscal Officer

Carmel Hendershot.

Adam Lee Huck.

Lori A. Schilling.

Taneka N. Sparling-Ponchak.

Offenberger said she thinks her incumbent status may have discouraged others from running for the seat while she occupied it. The fact that she's not running probably helps explain the broader field this year, she said.

Waterford Township fiscal officer hopeful Adam Huck said hearing Offenberger was retiring prompted him to run, along with an interest in the challenge of the job. The 30-year-old accountant said he wasn't surprised to see multiple candidates running.

"I just figured, yeah, there'll be a lot of interest," he said.

Fearing Township trustee candidate Rick Groves said he initially thought incumbent Eugene Biehl was not running. If he'd known Biehl was seeking another term, he said, he might not have thrown his hat in the ring, out of respect for the other man.

Groves said his main interest in the job comes from the fact that he's now retired from the City of Marietta's wastewater treatment plant and has time to run and do the work of a trustee, which often includes treating and repairing roads and similar work.

Having an incumbent on the ballot is no guarantee against a crowded field.

Muskingum Township Trustee Gary Doan is running for a second term but it's his fourth trustee race. The first time he ran there were seven other candidates but the last two times he faced only one opponent.

"It surprised me that there would be five," said Doan, 61. "I figured there would be a couple."

Washington County Board of Elections director Peggy Byers said it's not unusual to see multiple candidates running for township office. She said one attraction may be the insurance some townships provide.

Huck, Groves and Doan all indicated insurance was not their primary motivation in running.

"To me that's not a reason to run for public office," said Doan, who ran after he started attending meetings to address concerns over road repairs.



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