CIRCLEVILLE - A first-time Republican candidate will appear on the November ballot after being declared eligible by the Ohio Secretary of State to run for the third-ward Circleville City Council seat.
Josh Ford, 28, is currently the only candidate filed for the city's third ward. The Independent incumbent, Todd Brady, has until May 4 to file his candidacy to retain the office.
"It was very nerve-racking when I got the call that my petition had to go to the Secretary of State," Ford said. "I'm glad he approved it, though, and I'm able to run."
Ford's nominating petition for city council came into question Feb. 11 when the Pickaway County Board of Elections met to certify candidates and issues for the May 5 primary election ballot.
Ford's declaration of candidacy consisted of two part-petitions, one that contained 21 signatures and one that contained eight signatures. The circulator statement Ford filed with each part-petition, however, stated that each one contained 25 signatures.
The vote of the Board of Elections resulted in a tie, with David Winner and Jane Lynch voting to approve his candidacy and Susan Welsh and Karen Bensonhaver voting to reject it. The decision was then left to Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State, to break the tie.
Bensonhaver and Welsh argued that if a failure to enter the number of signatures on the circulator statement invalidates a petition, as was the case with first-ward council member Mike Logan, a petition should also be invalidated if the number reflected in the circulator statement does not match the actual number of signatures.
Winner and Lynch, however, cited previous directives from the Ohio Secretary of State's office stating that a board should not invalidate a petition when the circulator attests to witnessing more than the actual number of signatures.
In Husted's decision dated Feb. 23, he broke the tie in favor of Ford's candidacy, stating, "It is well-settled law that a board of elections cannot reject a part-petition solely because the circulator statement indicates that it contains more signatures than it does. Further, I have consistently instructed boards of elections that when examining and verifying candidate petitions: If the number of signatures reported in the statement is equal to or greater than the total number of signatures not crossed out on the part-petition, then the Board does not reject the part-petition because of the inconsistent signature numbers. Instead, the Board must review the validity of each signature as usual."
Ford, a Maryland native, said he moved permanently to Circleville after graduating with his bachelor's degree in Christian education from Ohio Christian University in 2010. He earned his master's degree in theology in 2013.
Currently he serves at-large on the Republican Central Committee.
Though his road to Circleville City Council is just beginning, Ford said he has already defined some goals for the office, if elected. Those include working to revitalize Ted Lewis Park and to help promote Circleville as a destination.
"I really want Circleville to be one of those top towns people who aren't from Ohio talk about," Ford said. "It's a great small town, and not just because of the Pumpkin Show. I mean, that's great, but we have a lot of potential beyond that. There are a lot of good things about Circleville that I feel council can really bring out."
As the third-ward incumbent, Brady said he has not yet filed to run in November but plans to do that soon.