House seat attracts attention

On the side

Write-in candidates: Monday is the deadline for those interested in running for positions on the Nov. 5 ballot as write-in candidates. Normally, winning a race as a write-in is a long-shot at best. But in numerous races this year there aren’t enough candidates running for available seats so there will be some write-in winners in the general election.

In the Liberty and McDonald school board races, there are no candidates on the ballot.

Young conservatives: The Trumbull Mahoning Columbiana Young Conservatives club will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mahoning County Republican Party office, 621 Boardman Canfield Road in Boardman. The guest speaker is Jonathan Petrea, the Northeast Ohio coordinator for Energy Citizens Ohio, who’s also been involved in political campaigns.

Several people are giving serious consideration to running next year for an Ohio House seat that will be open because term limits forbid the incumbent to seek re-election and a 7th District Court of Appeals seat that will likely be available because of a retirement.

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, is serving his last term in the Ohio House, which will likely result in a mad dash for the seat in the 2014 election.

The district is strongly Democratic so it would be somewhat of a surprise if the Republicans field a candidate even though there won’t be an incumbent. And if a Republican files, it would take a miracle for that candidate to beat the winner of the Democratic primary.

Youngstown Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, announced earlier this year she’s running for the seat. Also, Youngstown Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, has expressed interest, and Austintown Trustee James Davis’ name has been thrown into the mix. Davis is running for re-election in November so don’t expect anything official from him until after that.

Hagan told me his wife, Michele Lepore-Hagan, director of Youngstown State University’s Performing Arts Series, is “seriously considering” a bid to replace him. If she runs, Hagan said he would obviously support her candidacy.

There are a few others looking at the spot.

Last year’s redistricting made a subtle but important change to the makeup of this House district. The district still includes all of Youngstown, Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville and Coitsville. The old district had nine precincts in Austintown. The current district has 36 of that township’s 40 precincts.

Based on population, the winner will need to do well on Youngstown’s West Side and in Austintown.

Meanwhile, Judge Joseph J. Vukovich of the 7th District Court of Appeals is likely retiring and won’t seek re-election in 2014.

The judge said he’ll make an official announcement after the Nov. 5 general election.

There are numerous names being tossed around to replace Judge Vukovich should he retire.

On the Democratic side, potential candidates include Youngstown Deputy Law Director Anthony Donofrio, Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, and Mark Hanni, who lost the 2012 general election. Donofrio’s brother serves on the court and his father is a retired 7th District Court of Appeals judge.

On the Republican side, possible candidates include Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who is up for re-election next year, and Judge C. Ashley Pike of Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, who lost to Judge Vukovich in the 2002 general election for the latter’s seat on the appeals court.

The 7th District includes Mahoning, Columbiana, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble counties. Mahoning is the most populous county in the district and all four judges are from there.

Candidates don’t have to file until Feb. 5, 2014, to run in next year’s primary.

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