While this year’s general election isn’t taking place until Nov. 6, numerous Columbus and Platte County residents are in the process of casting their ballots.
During a Tuesday interview with The Telegram, county election commissioner Diane Olmer said that people started receiving mailed absentee ballots last week and are eligible this week to fill out ballots at her office on the third floor of the Platte County Courthouse, 2610 14th St.
“We’ve got ballots in the ballot box that are already returned to us,” said Olmer, who’s served as election commissioner for the past 22 years. “And today was the first day that anybody could vote in the office, and we’ve had several of those already. So early voting is in full swing.”
Those participating in the early voting process have inevitably noticed that a handful of county and city races are contested. At the county level, the District 1 Platte County Board of Supervisors race includes Republican Fred Liss, along with Democratic opponent Barb Siedlik and Libertarian John Harms.
Current District 1 Supervisor Tom Martens originally filed prior to the primary election but withdrew his submission in late February.
Neither Harms nor Siedlik were contested during May’s primary election. Liss moved on to the general election after defeating Todd Stuthman in the primary garnering more than 50 percent of the overall cast vote.
District 3 Supervisor James Scow and District 5 supervisor Bob Lloyd will retain their current positions running uncontested in November. Kim Kwapnioski, representing District 7, will also run unopposed on the general election ballot after defeating incumbent Republican Hollie Olk in the primary election.
Another key race being featured in November is the District 22 Legislative seat battle between former Columbus Mayor Mike Moser and Doug Oertwich. Moser ran away with the majority of cast primary votes receiving 56 percent to Oertwich’s 21 percent. Francis Kuehler and Kenneth Leischner were eliminated from the race after receiving 17 and 5 percent, respectively.
At the city level, no Columbus City Council members are facing opposition on the ballot. Ward 1 council Member Beth Augustine-Schulte, Ward 2 Council Member Dennis Kresha, Ward 3 Council Member Richard Jablonski and Ward 4 Council Member J. Prent Roth all ran uncontested during the primaries.
On the school ticket, both Columbus Public Schools and Lakeview Public Schools have contested races.
For CPS, incumbents Douglas Molczyk and Theresa Seipel face competition from Mary Wiegand, Michael Jeffryes and Karina Lopez. Current member Timothy Pospisil chose not to re-file, and votes can be cast for up to three candidates.
Incumbents Ryan Loseke and Keith Runge are pursuing re-election to the Lakeview Public Schools Board of Education, along with opponents Chad Anderson and Larry Hassebrook. As with CPS, voters can support up to three candidates.
Over the course of the next few weeks, The Telegram will be attempting to reach candidates vying for contested city and county seats.
Olmer encouraged people Tuesday to get to the polls and make their voices heard.
“Just like the old saying is, if you don’t vote you cant whine, you know?” she said. “(People need to) take part in the system instead of just complaining about it.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.