November 21, 2014

Medina
Partly cloudy
15°F

Would-be politicians receive tips of the trade

LAFAYETTE TWP. — As the deadline to file for local races nears, potential candidates headed to an “office-seekers academy” at the Medina County University Center.

On Thursday night, county officials including Commissioner Steve Hambley, Auditor Mike Kovack, Prosecutor Dean Holman, and Director Carl Lawler and Deputy Director Carol Gurney from the Board of Elections offered their advice during the first of a series of academy courses.

Steve Hambley

The academy is being offered through the University of Akron’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education Department.

Hambley said local government positions like township trustee or school board member are among the most popular for first-time office-seekers, often because the campaigns are smaller and there’s more than one open seat.

“There are 89,476 local governments in the United States,” he said. “And usually a local government has more than one elected official.”

Kovack also gave those attending the class a brief introduction to local government budgets. He spoke about the difference between general funds and funds set aside for special purposes, such as safety services.

Campaigns to specifically fund police and fire services are popular, he said.

Even small, local governments operate using a number of different funds, he said, some with different rules about how money can be spent.

“Sometimes a township may be running a surplus, but that money or fund only can be used for certain things,” he said.

Understanding government budgets can be confusing, he said.

“It’s one of the most commonly misunderstood parts about government,” Kovack said.

Holman offered tips on the legal responsibilities of public officials and Lawler and Gurney explained how to file campaign petitions and explained the relevant deadlines.

The deadline to file for the November election is Aug. 7.

Medina resident Eric Carpenter, who said he never has run for public office, said he hoped the course would help him make up his mind about whether to seek office.

“I’m not sure yet, that’s why I’m here. I just want to get an idea of what it will take,” he said.

Three more courses are scheduled: Elections Laws, 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22, and The Campaign, 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 29 and Sept. 5.

All the courses are at the Medina County University Center.

To register or for more information, call (330) 721-2210.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at lgenson@medina-gazette.com.