Four Republicans have filed petitions with the Licking County Board of Elections to run for county commissioner in the May 6 primary and Nov. 4 general elections.
They were joined by a Democrat and a Libertarian in the prospective race to replace Republican Doug Smith, who will retire as commissioner at the end of his term after serving since 2005.
Democrat Mark Van Buren, a Harrison Township trustee, and Libertarian James Snedden are expected to run unopposed in the primary.
The four Republican candidates are Rick Black, Brad Feightner, Mike Fox and Doug Kanuckel.
* Black, 59, is president of the Union Township board of trustees.
"I bring a skill set to this that no one else does," Black said. "Agriculture is a leading industry in Licking County, and it's time farmers had a voice in county government again."
He said he is the fifth generation to operate his family farm in Union Township near Hebron and Granville.
Black has served on the Lakewood school board for seven years, including two years as board president. He was elected for his second term as Union Township trustee, serving as trustee president in 2013 and again in 2014.
"I'm an experienced leader, participating in numerous civic and professional organizations," Black said.
Black said he wants to lead for the future of Licking County residents with solid, sensible planning for commercial and residential development, good stewardship of county tax money and sound management of county departments.
"I'm tight with money," he said.
* Feightner, 54, is a Newark resident and a former county commissioner. He lost the 2012 Republican primary to one of the current commissioners, Duane Flowers.
Feightner also entered the race for Licking County Municipal Court Clerk as an independent last year, but withdrew last summer after the Republican Party challenged his petition, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Feightner is a Newark High School graduate who also completed various Ohio Judicial College Supreme Court continuing education courses and attended multiple court technology seminars.
He has held several county public-service positions, including being elected to Newark City Council in 1997 and 1999. He was elected county commissioner in 2008.
ThisWeek could not reach Feightner for comment before press time.
* Fox, 56, is a member of Pataskala City Council.
"I want to make sure we have a commissioner who is a true fiscal conservative," Fox said. "Money is always an issue."
Fox said he is extremely opposed to raising taxes and doesn't believe that the government should do any more for people than they can't do for themselves.
"The government seems to be constantly expanding," he said. "It's better to let the people spend their money the way they see fit instead of the way the government sees fit to spend it."
Fox was elected to Pataskala City Council in 2011 to serve Ward 3.
He has an associate degree in public administration from Franklin University and has lived in Pataskala for 25 years.
Fox served three years on the city's planning and zoning commission and four years on City Council before his election in 2011.
Recently, Fox was accused of malfeasance by former Mayor Steve Butcher for his role in the removal of former West Licking Fire Chief David Fulmer. Pataskala City Council voted 4-1 last month to end the investigation with a public reprimand.
* Kanuckel, 71, is president of the Fallsbury Township board of trustees.
"I'm concerned by the direction our government is leading us, and I find it frustrating," said Kanuckel. "And now I have reached the time in life where I think I can help on the county level.
"Licking County residents need a commissioner that will keep taxes low and ensure we continue responsible spending. And, if elected commissioner, that's what the taxpayers can expect from me."
Kanuckel, a Frazeysburg resident, has served three terms as township trustee.
He's a graduate of Licking Valley High School and is a retired Licking County sheriff's deputy.
"Public service is important to me; that's why I first got into law enforcement and later became an elected official," he said.
Kanuckel said he has been active in community organizations, including serving as president of a cemetery association and serving on the board of the East Central Ohio Beekeepers Association.
"I developed a strong work ethic early on in my youth as I participated in the operation of our local dairy farm," he said.
Kanuckel said some of his major areas of concern for Licking County include the need to support the growth of local business to bring more jobs into our county, to provide an improved infrastructure, effective safety forces and to support the county's agricultural heritage.
"I strongly believe that an elected official is first and foremost a public servant," he said. "I believe we need to focus on an efficient county government. That means we need to invoke cost savings measures when we can."
Dispatch reporter Eric Lyttle contributed to this story.