Highland County will vote for two county commissioners and consider 18 state and local issues in the Nov. 6 election, as statewide voters will also elect a new Ohio governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and state treasurer.

Running for the Jan. 1 Highland County commissioner seat are incumbent Jeff Duncan, a Republican, and Democrat John Dale Knauff.

Duncan, who was elected in 2014, has also worked as a farmer and Penn Township trustee and has served as a member of the Republican Central Committee and the Clinton-Highland Joint Fire District Board and as president of the ownership group at Five Points Implement Company.


Knauff is a welder and has worked for many years at the Portsmouth Gaseous and Diffusion Plant in Piketon. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has experience in budgeting, capital improvement and finance planning, strategic planning, contract negotiations and lobbying.

The other commissioner race will fill the unexpired term, ending Jan. 1, 2020, of former commission president Shane Wilkin. Wilkin was appointed to the Ohio House seat for the 91st District following the 2018 primary to replace former House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, who resigned amid an FBI investigation. Gary Abernathy and Randy Mustard were appointed by their respective party’s central committee to run for Wilkin’s unexpired seat. Abernathy, a Republican, is a former publisher and editor. Mustard, a Democrat, has been a Paint Township trustee since 1999 and has owned and operated his own trucking business since 1992. Wilkin, a Republican, will also appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, as he faces Democratic candidate Justin Grimes of New Vienna.

Uncontested local races include incumbents Bill Fawley for Highland County auditor and Judge Robert J. Judkins for Highland County Court judge.

• The 2018 general election ballot includes one statewide issue, two countywide issues and 15 other issues to be considered by certain precincts and townships. Issue 1, which is a statewide issue, would amend the Ohio Constitution “to reduce the number of people in state prison for low-level nonviolent drug possession or drug use offenses or for non-criminal probation violations and by providing sentence credits for participation in rehabilitation programs.”

The two countywide issues involve tax levies, for Highland County Children Services and the Highland County Department of Health, respectively.

Issue 8 is a proposed 0.9- mill, five-year tax levy renewal for Highland County Children Services, commencing in 2019 and first due in 2020, “for the support of children services and the care and placement of children.”

Highland County Job and Family Services and Children Services director Katie Adams told Highland County commissioners in August that the current levy brings in $500-600,000 annually and that they would not be seeking any additional millage. The current Children Services levy – which was a 0.9 mills, five-year levy – was renewed by Highland County voters in May 2014, passing by a 4,495-2,879 margin. In 2016, voters rejected a second levy for Highland County Children Services that would have added $1.5 million per year.

The third countywide tax levy, Issue 9, is a proposed 0.5-mill, five-year replacement tax levy for the Highland County Health Department. According to Health Commissioner Jared Warner, the current levy was passed in 1989 and has funded at that same rate since its passage. Through the current levy, a property valued at $100,000 brings $6.16 annually to the department.

Under the proposed replacement levy, there would be an increase of $9.59 annually per $100,000 valuation, for a total of $15.75 annually. The replacement levy would generate roughly $361,000 annually, an approximate $200,000 increase over current funding levels.

The remaining 15 issues by various precincts regarding school levies, township levies and local options will be considered. The following is a look at the other issues on the ballot:

• Issue 6 is for a renewal of a tax for the benefit of the Great Oaks Career Campuses (including Diamond Oaks, Laurel Oaks, Live Oaks and Scarlet Oaks), a joint vocational school district, for the purpose of current operating expenses at a rate not exceeding 2.7 mills, for a continuing period of time, commencing in 2019 and first due in 2020. Nearly all Highland County precincts will consider Issue 6, with certain sections of Brushcreek, Concord, Hamer, Jackson, Marshall, New Market, Paint, Salem, Washington and Whiteoak townships being outside the Great Oaks district. The issue will also be considered by voters in Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Greene, Hamilton, Madison, Pickaway, Ross and Warren counties.

• Issue 4, on the ballot in Highland County for parts of the Brushcreek, Concord, Hamer, Jackson, Marshall, New Market, Paint, Washington and Whiteoak Township precincts, is a proposed additional 3-mill tax levy for a continuing period of time for the Bright Local School District for general permanent improvements. Certain Adams County voters will also consider Issue 4.

• Portions of the Fairfield, Penn and Union Township precincts will vote on Issue 5, a proposed bond issue and tax levy for the East Clinton Local School District, which also impacts voters in Clinton County. The bond issue is for bonds in the principal amount of $16.8 million to be repaid annually over a maximum of 28 years and an annual levy of property taxes to be made outside the 10-mill limitation, averaging 5.7 mills, to pay the annual debt charges on the bond. An additional 0.5 mill tax levy is proposed to be made for a period of 23 years. The monies would be used to pay the local share of school construction under the Ohio Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (including renovations to New Vienna and Sabina Elementary Schools to house pre-K through sixth grades and renovations and additions to East Clinton High School to house grades 7-12 and career tech) and a portion of the cost of other improvements to facilities.

• Issue 2 is a proposed additional 1.95-mill tax levy for the Brown County School Financing District, affecting Eastern, Fayetteville, Georgetown, Ripley Union Lewis Huntington and Western Brown school districts. The levy, proposed for a continuing period of time, is for “current expenses for school safety and security and mental health services including training and employment of or contracting for the services of safety personnel, mental health personnel, social workers and counselors.” In Highland County, this will appear on the ballot for parts of Concord, Salem and Whiteoak Townships.

• Issue 3 is a proposed additional 2.45-mill, five-year tax levy for the Adams County/Ohio Valley Local School District, which will appear on the ballot for Brushcreek Township (46-3 and 46-4) voters.

• Issue 7 is a proposed 4.3-mill, five-year tax levy renewal for Lynchburg Area Joint Fire and Ambulance District. The tax is to provide and maintain fire and EMS equipment and for firefighters’ salaries. This will appear on the ballot for voters in the village of Lynchburg and Dodson, Hamer and Union townships.

• Issue 10 is a proposed 5-mill, five-year tax levy renewal for the Village of Lynchburg for police salaries, impacting voters in the village of Lynchburg precinct.

• Issues 14 and 15 are both on the ballot for voters in Penn Township. Issue 14 is a proposed 1.8-mill tax levy renewal for Penn Township fire and EMS services (excluding areas covered by the Clinton-Highland JFD) for a continuing period of time. Issue 15 is also for a tax levy renewal for Penn Township fire and EMS, proposed at 2.15 mills for a continuing period of time.

• Issue 12 is a proposed 0.5-mill, five-year tax levy renewal for Dodson Township cemeteries. It will be considered by voters in the village of Lynchburg and Dodson Township precincts.

• Issue 11 is a proposed 1-mill, five-year tax levy renewal for Brushcreek Township cemetery maintenance.

• Issue 13 is a proposed 0.8-mill, five-year tax levy rental for Hamer Township cemetery maintenance.

• Issue 16 is a proposed 0.8-mill, five-year tax levy renewal for Salem Township cemetery maintenance.

• Issue 17, which will be considered by Hillsboro 1 NE voters, is a local liquor option for Sunday sales at Highland Lanes.

• Issue 18, on the ballot for Hillsboro 4 SWA voters, is also a local liquor option for Sunday sales, this one affecting the Hillsboro 1st Stop.

• Foremost in the state races is the Ohio governor’s race, with candidates including Democrat Richard Cordray, a former attorney general and state treasurer and first-ever director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Republican Mike DeWine, who is currently Ohio attorney general and has served in the Ohio State Senate, in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate; Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton, an attorney from Franklin County; and Libertarian Party candidate Travis Irvine, a former mayoral and congressional candidate.

Running for attorney general are Democrat Steve Dettelbach, a longtime federal prosecutor; and Republican Dave Yost, the current state auditor and a former county prosecutor.

There are three candidates on the ballot for the state auditor’s race: Robert Coogan, a Libertarian, who worked in auditing for Cincinnati Bell; Republican Keith Faber, who is currently the 84th District Ohio state representative and is a former Ohio Senate president; and Democrat Zack Space, an attorney and former congressman.

Another race with three candidates is for secretary of state, including Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat, who is an attorney and a state representative; Republican Frank LaRose, who is a U.S. Army veteran and an Ohio senator; and Libertarian Dustin Nanna, who is vice chair of the Ohio Libertarian Party.

Vying for the state treasurer’s seat are Democrat Rob Richardson, an attorney, and Republican Robert Sprague, a previous city treasurer and auditor who currently serves as a state representative.

For the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, will face Republican Jim Renacci, who currently represents the 16th District of Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Current Second District Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican, has two challengers for his congressional seat: James L. Condit, Jr. of the Green Party, who formerly owned and operated a printing business; and Democrat Jill Schiller, an attorney, former staffer for President Barack Obama and business owner who lives in Cincinnati.

Incumbent Republican State Senator Bob Peterson, who represents the 17th District, will face Democratic candidate Scott Dailey, a union pipefitter from Portsmouth.

Judicial races include two Supreme Court seats and two seats on the Fourth District Court of Appeals. For Ohio Supreme Court, Craig Baldwin (R) and Michael Donnelly (D) will run for the term commencing Jan. 1, 2019. Mary DeGenaro (R), who was appointed to the Supreme Court in January, and Melody Stewart (D) are seeking the term commencing Jan. 2.

For the Court of Appeals, current Judge Marie Hoover, a Democrat, will face Republican Jason P. Smith, a private-practice attorney, for the term commencing Feb. 9, 2019. Running for the term commencing Feb. 10, 2019 are Republican Mike Hess, an attorney and business owner and former Pickaway County assistant prosecutor, and Democrat Valarie K. Gerlach, an attorney from Scioto County.

Visit highlandcountypress.com for updates throughout election night, including live results.