Heath city auditor Keith Alexander and Licking County treasurer Michael Smith have taken the first steps to run on the Republican ticket for Licking County auditor next year.

Heath city auditor Keith Alexander and Licking County treasurer Michael Smith have taken the first steps to run on the Republican ticket for Licking County auditor next year.

Auditor Terry Evans plans to retire.

Alexander said he has been campaigning, fundraising and collecting signatures on his petition, though he has not made an official decision if he will submit his signed petitions by the Feb. 18, 2010, deadline for the May 4 primary election.

"I believe the likelihood is very strong that I will be running," Alexander said.

According to the Licking County Board of Elections, Alexander and Smith are the only two who have requested petitions for the office.

Alexander, who has served the city of Heath for 17 years as a council member and the city's auditor, said he is excited for the next step in his career.

"I have been here in Heath as the city auditor for seven years," said Alexander, who is a licensed insurance agent. "After a while, in any one spot, you become just a tad stagnant. Maybe getting another box and trying to think outside of it will spearhead some good thinking."

Smith, who filed his completed petition at 11 a.m. Dec. 18, said running for county auditor is the logical next step for him.

"It's fairly common across the state of Ohio for county treasurers to become county auditors," he said. "We share responsibilities."

Smith, who was appointed to treasurer in 2005 and has run and won two campaigns since then, said that both the auditor and the treasurer sit on the board of revisions, the budget commission and the investment advisory board.

"It's just fairly common for that to happen because we share so much information," he said.

He said he is in the process of getting his campaign literature out to county residents and already has held a few fundraisers.

"I think I am the best candidate because I can walk in there from the day I take office and run the office," Smith said. "I spend almost as much time on that side of the hall as I do on this side of the hall."