The turnout for the last Clintonville Area Commission election -- both of candidates and voters -- was anemic, to say the least.
District 4 representative Judy Minister was unopposed in seeking another term in the May 2018 election, but in District 5, Dana Bagwell was the sole candidate for the seat vacated by Matthew Cull. John Eschenbrenner edged out Michael S. Weinman by a single vote in District 7, where Jason Meek opted not to seek an additional term.
In the latter race, Eschenbrenner garnered just eight votes, beating Weinman's seven.
This year, seats in Districts 3, 6 and 8 are up for election, and Ann Henkener, chairwoman of the advisory panel's election committee, said things are going to be different this time around.
After initially exploring the idea of sending postcards to every household in the three districts and finding that to be prohibitively expensive, Henkener was given approval Feb. 7 to spend $1,000 to help attract candidates and voters for the three districts.
"Basically, we want to make sure that people know there's an election this year and which three districts have the ability to elect a new or re-elect their commission member," Henkener said. "We just want to make sure it's easy for people to know which districts are having open seats."
"I think it's very important," Jan Patton, a member of the election committee, said of serving on the area commission. "This is our community, and it's nice to have a say in what goes on here. We definitely can give input."
Committee members hope to recruit candidates over social media and through the area commission's website, Henkener said.
"That'll hit one audience," she said.
Advertising in traditional media, such as ThisWeek Booster, will reach another, she said.
"Right now, our media is going to have more to do with, 'Wouldn't you like to be a commissioner? Think about it,' " Henkener said.
While the District 3 incumbent and current chairwoman, Libby Wetherholt, has indicated she plans to seek a final three-year term, both Randy Ketcham in District 6 and Christopher Allwein in District 8 have said they won't run again.
"I have enjoyed working with the other commissioners, finding out what's going on and meeting people in the community and having a small part in helping to shape matters in Clintonville," Allwein said. "I hope to see someone in District 8 apply to be our commission representative who has the time to give it the attention it deserves.
"My work schedule prevents me from devoting more time to this position. There is so much going on in Clintonville, and my participation on the commission these last three years has helped me to realize how fortunate we are to be a part of such a dynamic community."
Ketcham said he made it known last year that this was his final term.
"I felt six years was a good tenure," he said. "I've met a lot of great people and I know the district a lot better than I did before. I'd recommend it to anyone. I think it has been a good experience."
The Clintonville Area Commission's purpose is to advise Columbus City Council in areas such as planning and development.
District 3's general boundaries are Weber Road to the south, the railroad tracks east of Indianola Avenue to the east, Oakland Park Avenue to the north and High Street to the west. District 6 generally is bounded by Hollenback Drive to the south, High Street to the east, the Sharon Township border to the north and the Olentangy River to the west.
District 8's general boundaries are Garden Road to the south, the railroad tracks east of Indianola Avenue to the east, the southern edge of the Ohio State Schools for the Deaf and Blind to the north and High Street to the west.
Petition forms for candidates interested in running for the District 3, 6 and 8 seats are available at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.
An orientation meeting for potential candidates, "optional but strongly encouraged," said Henkener, will take place from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 11, also at the library.
The deadline for submitting petitions is March 30.
Election committee members will certify candidates April 4 and present the names at that day's CAC meeting, set for 7:30 p.m.
Early voting is set from 6 to 8 p.m. April 30 at the library.
The election will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4, also at the library.
Patton said the commission is hopeful the $1,000 injection into the election process will help draw candidates.
"I think (the CAC is) stymied by why they can't get more involvement at election," she said. "This is great that they're backing our efforts."
"Clintonville's an important neighborhood, so it's important to have a strong commission, and strong commissioners make a strong commission -- and you also want your district to have a say," Henkener said.
"Nobody knows their district like somebody who lives in it. That intimate knowledge of your own district makes you a good advocate for it."