This year's Clintonville Area Commission election will feature not only an early in-person voting day, but also absentee balloting, committee chairman Ian MacConnell said last week.

This year's Clintonville Area Commission election will feature not only an early in-person voting day, but also absentee balloting, committee chairman Ian MacConnell said last week.

When MacConnell, a former president of the University Area Commission, who has since moved to Clintonville, gave his committee's report to the CAC on Feb. 2, an extended period for mail-in voting was front and center as the method for encouraging as much participation as possible.

That didn't work last year, District 9 representative D Searcy said, adding that she had serious doubts it would this time around.

Only one person signed up for a mail-in ballot prior to the May 2011 election, and then didn't bother to mail it in.

While the area commission's bylaws dictate the first Saturday in May as the official date for annual elections, Searcy said the addition of early in-person voting opportunities last year enabled more people to participate than, obviously, the absentee plan devised by then-elections committee chairwoman Mary Rodgers and the members of her panel.

"Not everyone can come on Saturday," Searcy pointed out at the time.

With no other CAC meeting scheduled before the 2012 election timeline needed to be finalized, MacConnell said he would see what he and the others on the committee - Kristin Schoeff, Tom Stockdale, Allyson Terrell and Frank Williams - could devise.

What they came up with, MacConnell said last week, is, they hope, a best-of-both-worlds approach. It adds to the bylaws-mandated election day an early in-person voting opportunity on Wednesday, May 2, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the meeting room of the Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, as well as the option for residents to request mail-in ballots.

The forms for doing so, as well as the nominating petitions for candidates interested in running for one of the three seats up for election this cycle, will be available at the branch beginning Saturday, Feb. 25.

"We're going to extend mail-in absentee voting," MacConnell said. "We want to give everybody an opportunity to vote, especially those who can't get to the polls. We have to take into account people with disabilities who just can't get out of their home."

All in all, the committee chairman said last week, things have gone well in terms of he and the others devising rules for this year's election.

The seats in Districts 4, 5 and 7 are due this cycle. They are currently held, respectively, by Mike Folmar, Nick Cipiti and Dave Southan.

Southan and Cipiti both have stated their plans to seek additional terms at different CAC meetings.

Folmar had not indicated his plans, until last week when he said that he did not intend to run for another term.

"I feel it's been a privilege to represent the residents of District 4 on the commission," he said. "I would like to thank them for the trust they have given me."

Folmar declined to say any more about his decision, planning to make a statement at the March 1 commission session.

"We look forward to having a free and fair election in Clintonville," MacConnell said.

On a personal note, he said his first-time experience being part of the inner workings of the area commission for his new neighborhood has been a good one.

"I have a longstanding relationship with a lot of the people on the Clintonville Area Commission," MacConnell said. "I respect them and I look forward to working with them over the years. I love Clintonville, and enjoy living with people who share my values."

One of the first things he and wife, Christa Yandrich, did upon moving to the neighborhood, and in fact the reason they relocated from the University area, was to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. Their previous property didn't have sufficient room for such a system, MacConnell said.

"What I found out is people really cherish that kind of lifestyle in Clintonville and they embrace good, core environmental values," he said.

After having been president of the University Area Commission for several years, MacConnell added that he's happy to take a support role with the area commission serving his new neighborhood "so they can really work on the things that matter and try to help in any way they can."