LISBON - Long-time Democrat John Wargo will officially appear on the Nov. 6 ballot as an independent candidate for Columbiana County commissioner.
The county elections board voted Wednesday to certify Wargo's candidacy petitions and his placement on the ballot.
To run as independent candidate, Wargo needed petitions containing the valid signatures of 331 county voters. Election Board Director Adam Booth said Wargo submitted petitions containing 463 signatures, 380 of which were determined to be valid.
During his 30-plus years in politics, Wargo served as commissioner, state representative and county recorder as a Democrat. When a vacancy occurred on the board of commissioners on Dec. 31 following the resignation of Democrat Penny Traina, Wargo made it known he was interested but only intended to serve the remainder of Traina's term, which expires Dec. 31, 2012.
The county Democratic Party Central Committee instead chose John Payne, who is also running for the full four-year term. The decision angered Wargo, who set about to run for the commissioner seat as an independent.
His candidacy creates a three-way race between Wargo, Payne and Republican Tim Weigle for the commissioner seat.
In other action, Booth reported they passed with flying colors the post-election audit they were required to perform by the Ohio Secretary of State to gauge the accuracy of the county voting system, which involves paper ballots scanned into an optical scan system, with results automatically tabulated and entered onto a memory card.
For the audit, Booth said they were required to check certain precinct vote totals cast in select races. The staff was allowed to choose a third race to test the vote totals.
A combined 1,868 votes were cast in the chosen precincts, "and everything came out dead-on" following the audit, Booth said.
Booth advised the board it appears there will be an Aug. 7 special election, with the only issues being a bond issue and levy placed on the ballot by the Columbiana school board. "I don't expect turnout will be very high," he said.
"That's probably what they're thinking," replied board member Jim Beardsley.