Aug. 2 Election Day: Butler County voters to decide Statehouse nominees, Ross levy

Butler County voters will have decisions to make in the special Aug. 2 primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Butler County voters will have decisions to make in the special Aug. 2 primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

There won’t be much on the special primary Aug. 2 ballot, but partisan Ohio voters will decide which candidates will be their party’s nominees for the Ohio House and Senate races.

And some Ohio voters will decide on local tax issues or local options.

Most every small ballot election, voter turnout is typically low. Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin said the special primary will be no different.

“We expect voter turnout to be low because this election is unusual in Ohio and some voters may not be expecting it,” he said. “We think turnout will probably be in the single digits (percentage-wise).”

Statehouse races

Butler County is represented by four House districts, and after redistricting, the district numbers and boundaries have changed.

Rep. Jennifer Gross, R-West Chester Twp., is seeking re-election to the Ohio House, but will be representing what’s now known as the 45th Ohio House District. She is uncontested in this primary, but will again face Chuck Horn, a West Chester Twp. Democrat who ran for the Statehouse two years ago, in November. Horn is also uncontested.

The district Gross is seeking to represent will no longer include Liberty Twp., but will include Fairfield.

The 46th Ohio House District will now represent Liberty Twp., which Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Twp., hopes to serve. However, he will face Matt King, of Middletown, in the Republican primary.

Lawrence Mulligan Jr., the son of the former Middletown mayor for whom he’s named, is uncontested in the Democratic primary.

Rep. Sarah Carruthers, R-Hamilton, is seeking to be elected to the 47th House District. She is being challenged by Cody Harper, of Hanover Twp., in the Republican primary. The GOP’s nominee will face Sam Lawrence, of Oxford, who is an uncontested Democrat.

Milford, Wayne and Trenton

Voters in Milford and Wayne townships, and Trenton, won’t see any of those names on the ballot. Instead, redistricting moved what is now the 40th Ohio House District into Butler County. Republican voters in these communities will see Rep. Randy Creech’s name, and Democratic voters will see candidate Amy Cox’s name.

Since both candidates are uncontested, they’ll face off in November.

These three communities will also be the only Butler County residents to decide on a state Senate race. Technically, the Republican voters will see just one name for the 5th Ohio Senate race as Sen. Stephen Huffman is uncontested. There is no Democratic candidate for the 5th Ohio Senate.

The remainder of Butler County is represented by the 4th Ohio Senate District, which is represented by Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., who was elected two years ago and is up for re-election in 2024.

There are other races on the ballot due to the delays in the Ohio House and Senate district maps. In addition to House and Senate races, there will also be candidates for the State Central Committee for each party. There will also be two issues.

Hanover Reserve is requesting a local option to sell alcohol on Sundays. Then there’s the Ross Twp. School levy.

Ross School levy

Residents in the Ross Local School district will see a proposed tax hike on the August ballot. School officials said this five-year, 7.99-mill emergency property tax levy will help the school system avoid a potential state-mandated fiscal emergency in the wake of budget shortfall projections for the coming years.

The 2,800-student, largely rural school system has received less state funding in the June 2021 Ohio biennium budget than it had in recent years.

If approved, it would raise the property tax of an owner of a $100,000 home by $279.65 a year. The last time voters approved a local property tax for the Ross schools was in 1999.

Cost of gerrymandering

This August special primary is due to the inability of the Republican-controlled General Assembly to come up with a timely and equitable redistricting map that did not gerrymander districts, according to court rulings.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission was charged with creating fair Ohio House and Senate district maps, as well as congressional maps. Courts ruled multiple times the commission’s attempts failed.

Because the maps had to be recreated multiple times, this special primary had to be conducted, which for Butler County alone will cost an estimated $335,000, Corbin said. The Ohio Legislature has appropriated funds for each county to assist with the cost of the election.

“For this election, we want to emphasize to voters that it is still a primary election and only the candidates for the party selected will be on your ballot,” Corbin said. “Both parties will be able to vote on the issue races.”

Voting hours

Early voting for the Aug. 2 primary election is now until Aug. 1. Here are the times and dates:

July 18-22: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

July 25-29: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

July 30: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

July 31: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Aug. 1: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Voters can also request a vote by mail ballot by downloading and printing the form from the Ohio Secretary of State website at www.ohiosos.gov, and send the completed document to the county board of elections office. All forms must be received by noon on July 30.

Election Day voting is from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2. For polling locations, visit the Butler County Board of Elections website at elections.bcohio.gov.

Staff reporter Michael D. Clark contributed to this story.

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