Two candidates who filed for the South-Western Board of Education race will not be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Incumbent Lee Schreiner and challenger David Donofrio were not certified for the election, leaving only three candidates running for four open seats.
The certified candidates include incumbent Cathy Johnson and first-time candidate Anthony Caldwell.
Board member Robert Ragland, who was appointed in August 2016 by the board to fill the seat left vacant when Randy Reisling resigned, is running for election to complete Reisling's unexpired term. The term runs through the end of 2019.
The full terms for Johnson, Schreiner and Karen Dover all expire at the end of this year. Dover decided not to run for re-election.
Schreiner and Donofrio each turned in petitions with fewer than the 300 valid signatures of qualified electors required for candidates in school districts with a population of 100,000 or more.
Schreiner turned in 408 signatures, 290 of which were ruled to be valid and Donofrio turned in 370 signatures, 293 of which were found to be valid, said Aaron Sellers, public information officer for the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The deadline for filing as a write-in candidate is 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, he said.
However, the Ohio Revised Code prohibits a disqualified candidate for an office to run as a write-in candidate for the same office, Sellers said.
"If only one write-in candidate files by Monday, and if they got one vote -- their own -- in November, they would be elected to the board," he said.
A write-in candidate need only to declare his or her candidacy by the Aug. 28 deadline, Sellers said. They don't have to collect signatures for a petition.
If no one declares as a write-in candidate, school board members, after taking their oaths of office in January, will be able to appoint someone to fill the vacant seat until the next school board election in 2019.
The board of elections declared nine candidates in Franklin County as not certified for the fall election, Sellers said.
"Sometimes a signature is not valid because the person is not a registered voter. Sometimes it's because they are not registered to vote in Franklin County," he said.
Board of elections employees check its database looking for the names and addresses of every person who signs a candidate's petition, Sellers said.
"Sometimes the name or address doesn't match what we have listed in our system," he said.
There is no formal procedure for a candidate to appeal the board's certification decision, Sellers said.
"If someone falls below the number of valid signatures they need for their race and they believe there are enough qualified signatures to put them over the top, they can bring it to the attention of the board," he said. "But there's no actual process in place to do that."
Donofrio said he had been in contact with officials from the board of elections and was reviewing his petition line by line to check the signatures he had collected.
"The board of elections gave me a line-by-line printout and I'm going over every single signature, name and address," he said. "I believe I can get through the list and find an additional seven valid signatures."
Schreiner said he remains optimistic that he will still be able to get on the ballot.
"It's not over yet,' he said. "I'm still trying to verify signatures with the board of elections. I'm a positive person. I truly want to be on the ballot. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
One issue with some of the signatures he collected was handwriting that may have been illegible to board of elections officials, Schreiner said.
"We're more familiar with our community than they are, of course, and a name they can't read we recognize because we know who wrote the signature," he said.
"It may be a situation in some cases where people have moved," Schreiner said.
Caldwell, 36, said he is running "because I want to be a voice for parents, students and my community."
"I'm the only candidate with a child currently in the school district and I want to make sure parents have someone on the board of education who is fighting for them," he said.
Caldwell and his wife, Amelia, have a daughter who attends Westland High School.
"We are blessed to have the opportunity to support with both time and financial resources," he said.
"So many working parents don't have that same luxury and I want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to give every student the same opportunities to be involved and succeed."
Caldwell has worked the past decade for the Service Employees International Union District 1199 and currently serves as the union's director of public affairs.
Johnson, 66, is seeking election to her fifth term on the board. She serves as board president.
"I'm very excited about the new building project that is coming up," she said. "Our first phase went so well with the new elementary schools and Franklin Heights High School. I can't wait to see the new middle schools. I want to continue on the board and help see the next phase through."
The district is conducting an assessment of the buildings that were not included in the first phase and the expectation is that the recommendations for the next phase will focus primarily on addressing older middle school buildings.
"We've been able to accomplish a lot over the last few years," Johnson said, including the development of an accelerated learning center and an all-day, everyday kindergarten program.
"The students entering second grade this year were the first class to go through the all-day, everyday program," she said.
"We're already seeing the benefits and I think the positive impact will really be shown next year when those students are in third grade and fall under the state's reading guarantee."
Johnson and her husband, Doug, have two children who attended South-Western schools.
Ragland, who will turn 52 in September, is running for election to the board in his own right after being appointed in August 2016 to fill the vacant seat. He had previously planned to run for the board in 2013, but withdrew for personal reasons.
"I felt it was an obligation if I was applying for the seat (after Reisling's resignation) and if the board would choose me, that I'd commit to running when the (election to complete the unexpired term came up) at the end of 2017," he said.
"I'm a child advocate for all kids at all grade levels and all economic levels," Ragland said. "As a district, I think we've done a good job making sure that all students have access to a quality education, whether they live in a $1 million house or in subsidized housing."
Ragland served on the district's levy committee in 2005 and on the Community Advisory Group.
He is a financial accounting technician with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Whitehall.