The only race for two open seats on the Warren County Board of Commissioners is between a three-term Republican incumbent and a Democrat, the former mayor of Waynesville.
Republican domination of county offices is a plank in Democrat and former Waynesville Mayor Charles Sanders’ platform in his race with Dave Young, a Republican and a three-term incumbent on the county commission.
“The Republicans shouldn’t dominate all the offices in the county,” Sanders said last week. “I would be a good fit to level the playing field.”
In the November 2000 election, voters in Waynesville recalled Sanders who also appeared on this ballot in an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate. He has run unsuccessfully four times for this office and twice for Congress.
Last week, Sanders said he was contesting Young’s reelection, rather than running for an open seat on the commission, due to miscommunication between him and election officials over which seats were open in the Nov. 8 election.
By the time he realized his error, “it was too late,” said Sanders, who served as mayor for two terms in Waynesville before being recalled after accusing village police of racial profiling.
Young said he decided to run again so that the commission wouldn’t be left to “newish commissioners.”
Shannon Jones, a state senator who is running uncontested, will be new to the commission post. The third commissioner, former Mason Mayor Tom Grossmann, was elected two years ago.
It is the first time Young is facing a general election challenge.
Still he said he had yet to actively campaign and had posted no yard signs, but would probably send out mailers during the final weeks leading up to election day.
“There’s 20 days left. Maybe I’ll do something,” he said.
Sanders said Young’s term of service should be held against him.
“I think there comes a point of diminishing returns,” Sanders said. “The county deserves fresh ideas and a turnover from time to time.”
Jones, a Republican and a senior state senator coming home due to term limits, is unopposed in the election for the seat on the three-member commission up for grabs due to the retirement of Commissioner Pat South.
But in this Republican stronghold, Democrats have trouble fielding candidates.
The last elected official in Warren County with any Democratic ties was Judge Neal Bronson, who retired at the end of his term in 2012.
This year, Sanders and Mike Kassalen - a candidate challenging the reelection of County Recorder Linda Oda - are the only Democrats contesting the local GOP’s control of county elected offices.