Hilliard's Republican Central Committee unanimously decided not to endorse candidates for city council in May's primary election.

Hilliard's Republican Central Committee unanimously decided not to endorse candidates for city council in May's primary election.

"We have collectively decided that we have five well-qualified candidates and will allow the democratic process to determine who represents the party on Hilliard council," wrote committee member and council president Brett Sciotto after the screening.

Those candidates are incumbents Albert Iosue and Bill Uttley, and newcomers Joseph Erb, Nathan Painter and Cornell Robertson. The five are vying for three council seats.

Uttley did not respond to an e-mail request for comment, but Iosue wrote that he was disappointed not to be endorsed, and understood the committee had a difficult decision.

"I believe in the citizens of Hilliard and trust they will select the most qualified and trusted candidates to serve the community," Iosue wrote.

The private screening lasted two hours Feb. 17 at the Hilliard Public Library, and the decision was made, Sciotto wrote, "after careful consideration and thorough debate" by himself and fellow committee members Susan Bogan, Stephanie Kunze and Tim Roberts. The latter two are council members.

"We're looking for the most qualified Republicans to do that job," Kunze said of the screening process. "It's a little more focused on how you would run your campaign, how long have you been a Republican, what are your conservative values, some of those things that maybe didn't come into play during the council interviews."

Erb, Painter, Robertson and Uttley were among those who were interviewed last year by council. Uttley, a former councilman, was chosen to replace Dan Nichter, who resigned.

Kunze and Brad Sinnott, chairman of the Republican Central Committee in Franklin County, both said it's not unusual to not endorse a candidate for council.

"My impression is that the members of the Central Committee in Hilliard decided not to endorse, believing that there was a strong field," Sinnott said.

However, the committee did unanimously endorse Don Schonhardt for re-election as Hilliard's mayor. Schonhardt is seeking a third term as mayor.

Although Schonhardt doesn't face any opposition in the primary, he'll be holding a pancake breakfast fundraiser for $25 per person or $35 per family from 8-11 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 26) at the Makoy Center.

"There's still an opportunity, I suppose, for somebody to challenge me in the fall," Schonhardt said.

Although he may not need the funds raised from the breakfast for this election, Schonhardt said fundraisers are something that politicians do. When asked if he might seek higher office in the future, Schonhardt replied, "never say never."