Three incumbent Springfield city commissioners and a newcomer will likely vie for three nonpartisan seats in the fall.
Former Clark County Republican Party Chairman Dan Harkins filed petitions with the Clark County Board of Elections on Wednesday to challenge current city commissioners Dan Martin, Karen Duncan and Joyce Chilton, all of whom also filed petitions this week.
City commission candidates had to file petitions with 250 valid signatures by 4 p.m. Wednesday. The petitions will be certified by Feb. 12.
With four candidates filing, a primary won’t be held for the city commission race, according to board of elections Director Matthew Tlachac.
Harkins, a local attorney, previously ran for election and lost in the Republican primary for the U.S. Congressional 7th District seat vacated by David Hobson in 2008, which was ultimately won by Steve Austria.
Harkins believes the city’s population is declining because the tax structure is “oppressive.” He’d like to see the city give 100 percent credit to people who work outside the community, but live in the city. He also wants the municipal income tax rate lowered to 1.5 percent or less to allow Springfield to be more competitive.
“It punishes families where you have a husband and wife who work outside the community, but because they live here, they have to pay more tax,” he said. “We’re seeing a flight from Springfield, and also of Clark County, of people who are taxpayers. We need to correct our tax structure.”
Chilton, also a Springfield native, will run for her second term on the city commission. Chilton, a Democrat, is retired from the Clark County Public Library. She has spent most of her first term focusing on job development, she said.
“I think it’s been a pretty good ride,” Chilton said. “I’ve been able to advocate and help different citizens. I’ve just enjoyed working with the Chamber on job development. It’s been a good term.”
Duncan, a Democrat, will seek her third term on the commission. She was first elected in 2005. A Wittenberg University graduate, she previously worked for Neighborhood Housing Partnership and pointed to the National Trail Parks and Recreation District capital projects as a successful part of her tenure with city.
“I feel like I still have the energy and the desire to continue serving in this position,” Duncan said. “There’s still some things I think I can help do.”
Martin, a Republican who joined the city commission in 1997, will seek his fifth term in office. He is a Springfield native and a lawyer with the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
“I look forward to doing it, and I had a lot of encouragement from folks in the community that thought it was good for me to continue,” Martin said.