Experts: Some candidates file early to reduce competition

As of Jan. 17, six people in Butler County and five in Warren County had pulled petitions for the November general election that will feature races for mayors, city and village councils, township trustees and local school boards. STAFF FILE/2016
As of Jan. 17, six people in Butler County and five in Warren County had pulled petitions for the November general election that will feature races for mayors, city and village councils, township trustees and local school boards. STAFF FILE/2016

Politics is often about about timing, and the time is now to ensure one’s best shot at not having a political opponent, according to some political experts.

It may be nearly seven months before the filing deadline for the Nov. 7 general election, but Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren said “common wisdom” among politicians declaring political intentions early often deters opponents — especially in local races.

“It’s all about the signal-sending,” he said. “It sends the signal to everyone else you’re in the race.”

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Forren said a person who pulls or files petitions within the first couple months of the new year will have that much more time to build a political ground game and political war chest as opposed to others who file closer to the deadline.

As of Thursday afternoon, six people in Butler County and five in Warren County had pulled petitions for the November general election that will feature races for mayors, city and village councils, township trustees and local school boards.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary to pull petitions this early,” said Warren County Board of Elections Director Brian Sleeth. “Once the candidate turns their petitions in, we will check the signatures but nothing is final until the board approves them after the filing deadline on Aug. 9.”

Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Jocelyn Bucaro said filing early gives a potential candidate “a better chance of getting on a ballot and avoiding some of the technical mistakes a candidate makes.”

That includes not having enough signatures and forgetting to sign forms.

“We see a lot of mistakes, especially in (local election years) where there’s first-time candidates,” she said.

Because the verification process is time consuming, candidates who file petitions after early July may not know of invalid forms until after the filing deadline, she said.

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller, who has yet to pull a petition, plans to file paperwork with the Butler County Boards of Elections to run for his second term as mayor — which he said will be his final term in political office.

His reasoning to pulling petitions this early isn’t to deter political opponents, he said, but rather build his ground game.

" I want to begin working now to do all I can and to continue to serve my final term as mayor," said Miller, 51. "A campaign, in my mind, is a lot like a sporting event. Either you win or you lose."

Jesse VonStein, who intends to seek a seat on the Wayne Twp. Board of Trustees, said he pulled petitions this month “just to get ahead of the game. There’s really no game plan or ulterior motives (to file early).”