Primary Election Day in Butler County: A look at the races and issues

Primary races to determine who will run for governor and U.S. Senate and a few local issues in Butler County will be decided today.

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m. The Journal-News will have complete coverage of election results tonight at, and they will publish in Thursdays print edition.

Officials anticipate that voter turnout will be low across Ohio. There are some races that will not appear on the ballot, including races for the Ohio house of representatives, state senate and political party state central committee, because district maps are still being debated.

A second primary election date has not been set.

Below are races to keep an eye on today:

1) Ohio Democratic Governor Race

Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley are facing off for the Democratic nomination for governor. Whaley’s running mate is Cheryl Stephens, vice president of Cuyahoga County Council. Cranley’s running mate is state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo.

Whaley served two four-year terms as a Dayton city commissioner before being elected mayor in 2013 and reelected in 2017. Cranley was elected to Cincinnati City Council and served from 2000 to 2009. Cranley lost two congressional runs, but won the Cincinnati mayor’s office in 2013 and was reelected in 2017.

2) Ohio Republican Governor Race

Incumbent Governor Mike DeWine is being challenged by three Republicans in May’s primary: Joe Blystone, Ron Hood and Jim Renacci.

Blystone founded Blystone Farm in 2004. He has never run for office before. His running mate is Marion native and fellow political novice Jeremiah Workman, an author, Marine Corps veteran and former IT worker.

Hood, a Circleville resident, is also running for Governor and his running mate is former state Rep. Candice Keller. Hood has won election to the Ohio House, holding a seat southwest of Chillicothe from 1995 to 2000 and 2005 to 2006; and a seat northeast of Chillicothe from 2013 to 2020.

Renacci was on Wadsworth City Council from 1999 to 2003, and was Wadsworth mayor from 2004 to 2008. He was elected to the U.S. House in 2010 and he represented the district southwest of Cleveland until 2019. His running mate is Christian movie producer and motivational speaker Joe Knopp, who has no political experience.

DeWine, a Greene County resident, was an assistant prosecutor in Greene County until his 1976 election as county prosecutor. He has served in the Ohio Senate, U.S. House rep., lieutenant governor, U.S. senator and Ohio attorney general. His running mate is current Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, who previously served as Ohio’s Secretary of State.

3) Madison Local Schools Income Tax

Voters in Madison Twp. will decide on a proposed increase to the current schools’ income tax. It has been 21 years since Madison schools saw residents approve a new school income tax for daily school operations.

The 1,600-student Madison Local Schools, which has a single, K-12 campus, is the “centerpiece” of the rural Butler County community. Voters will decide on a 1% income tax to raise $2.4 million annually for the district, which has little commercial development and a few business tax revenue sources to pay for school operations.

Currently the district has an annual operating budget of $17 million funded in part by a previous .5% income tax paid for by residents.

If voters approve the new, 1% income tax, which is a continuing tax issue with no limit on years in effect, local residents would see a total of 1.5% of their earned income go to funding Madison Schools.

School officials have said the tax hike request was largely prompted by a sharp cut in state funding for the school system from Ohio’s latest biennium budget, which was approved in June with a new school funding formula.

If the proposed income tax hike fails, some school program and personnel budget cuts will have to follow, officials have previously said.

4) Middletown Fire Levy

A 1-mill property tax levy will be on today’s ballot that would generate $16.8 million and be used to build four fire stations in Middletown.

That’s the cost of designing, furnishing and constructing the four facilities that would replace the “inadequate and obsolete” existing stations, according to the city.

If Middletown residents reject the levy, city officials have said the city could place an income tax increase that would require a 1/8th of 1% increase for at least 15 years; cut the general fund budget by more than $800,000 a year by reducing the number of public safety employees; build one fire station every five or six years that would about double the final cumulative tally of costs; or don’t replace the fire stations.

5) Madison Twp. Fire Levy

Voters will decide today whether to support a 3-mill, five-year levy that will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $100 more a year. The levy would generate about $850,000 annually.

Leaders say the township used to be served by 55 to 60 volunteer firefighters, but that number has dropped to 40 to 45 and that includes part-time EMS. Even if the fire department reduces its staff, the aging buildings will need to be replaced, leaders said.

The township has three fire stations: Station 152 on Middletown Germantown Road was built in 1850 and is a former school house; Station 151, 4398 Elk Creek Road, was built in 1950; and the life squad at Ohio 122 and Mosiman Road was built in 1999.

The last fire levy in Madison Twp. passed in 2010 and before that it was 1979.

6) Fairfield Fire Levy

Fairfield’s continuing fire levy is on today’s primary ballot. The Fairfield Fire Department is a combination department, where they use part-time and full-time firefighters to provide fire protection and emergency medical service to the city of nearly 45,000 people.

Though failure of the levy could result in a dire situation for the department, passage would provide the department with the funding to appropriately staff it.

Without the levy, the fire department would receive supplemental funding from the city’s general fund, and projections show the city would deplete the required rainy day fund by 2029 and put the city’s Aa1 bond rating (the second-best possible rating) at risk.

The fire department, like others, used to have no problems attracting part-time firefighters. As early as 10 years ago, Fairfield saw part-time personnel stay anywhere from two-and-a-half to three years. Today, officials say the average time they stay is 10 months, and since 2015, nearly 150 part-time firefighters left either for a full-time job or the field altogether.

Staff writers Parker Perry, Rick McCrabb, Michael Clark, Michael Pitman and Mandy Gambrell contributed to this report.


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