Primary battles could loom in the races for Columbus mayor and city council.

Primary battles could loom in the races for Columbus mayor and city council.

As expected, four Republicans and as many Democrats filed petitions for four seats on council. But the addition of three Libertarians and an independent candidate could force a primary election.

A primary also is possible in the race for mayor. Republican Earl Smith, a retired police sergeant, will face two-term incumbent Mayor Michael Coleman, a Democrat. However, Paul Nerswick, who is not affiliated, also has entered the race.

The Franklin County Board of Elections will certify candidates by Feb. 14.

Republicans include Matthew Ferris, Alicia Healy, Joseph Healy and Daryl Hennessy.

Meanwhile, the Democratic ticket includes incumbent council members Andrew Ginther, Hearcel Craig, Zachary Klein and Michelle Mills.

Zachary Roberts and Donald Klco, whose names actually appear on the Democratic petitions, are placeholders for Klein and Mills, who were appointed to council Jan. 10.

Bill Anthony, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party, said such a move is not unusual. It allows political parties to circulate petitions before they know who the candidates are. When the petitions are certified, Klein and Mills will be named to the ticket, he said.

Libertarians running for council include Mark Noble, Andrew Ullman and Robert Bridges. Genaro R. Garcia is not part of a slate of candidates.

The races for mayor and council are officially nonpartisan. The top eight vote-getters in the race for council and top two vote-getters in the mayoral contest will move on to the general election.

Noble, a Clintonville resident, lambasted the petition process. Individual candidates must collect 1,000 valid signatures, the same number required for a full slate. Noble, who is a software engineer, said the process is discouraging to smaller party candidates because they don't have an established political apparatus behind them.

Noble has run unsuccessfully in three previous races. In 2006, he was Ohio gubernatorial candidate Bill Peirce's pick for lieutenant governor. In 2008, he ran for the 15th Congressional District seat and in 2010, he was a candidate for the 22nd Ohio House District.

Still, he said, the Libertarians are a force to be reckoned with.

"It's a very real impact to have Libertarians in the race," he said. "It can affect Democrats as much as Republicans."