Here we go again heading to election season

Following Wednesday’s deadline for primary election candidates to file petitions with local boards of elections, the names of the Republican and Democratic candidates who are hoping to appear on the May 2 ballot were published in Thursday’s Tribune Chronicle.

I know what you were thinking:

“Here we go again!”

For sure, it’s hard to believe it’s been three months already since the last election wrapped up, but rest assured, this time around, the races are much more of the “grassroots” variety.

Municipal partisan races is what voters will find on the May primary ballot, along with the usual smattering of local tax levies, questions and liquor options.

Rather than repeated debates over things like immigration, environmental regulations and U.S. Supreme Court nominations, coverage of this upcoming election will likely focus more on topics like local government spending and local economic development.

So far, local Democratic voters will have a choice in about 13 races. For instance, Niles Democratic voters will decide their party’s nomination for Niles Municipal Court Judge (there are four candidates — each very qualified, which will make for a very interesting and competitive race) and 1st ward council. Girard Democrats also will vote on 1st ward council.

Warren Democratic voters will choose between two Democrats each for Warren city auditor and Warren city treasurer. It also appears they’ll also have choices in several Warren council races, including 2nd ward, 4th ward, 5th and 7th wards.

Farther south, Youngstown Democrats will have a choice in the races for mayor, council president and Youngstown municipal court judge.

As far as Republicans go, 14 candidates filed for various races in Trumbull County but likely will be uncontested in May. If their candidacy ultimately is certified for the ballot, each will be able to go on to face any Democrats or independent candidates in November.

The lack of contested GOP races means this: if you want to have a choice in May, your only option will be to ask for a Democratic ballot, effectively changing your party affiliation to Democrat. That’s to be expected in this Democratic stronghold and is a lot of the reason that local Democratic party leaders had little concern that the many voters who switched party affiliation last March (presumably to vote in the Republican presidential primary) eventually would come back.

In last year’s presidential primary, 28,742 Trumbull County residents cast Republican ballots — thousands switching over from their previous Democratic party affiliation. By comparison, in the 2012 presidential primary election, only 15,571 Republican ballots were cast, and in 2008 that number was at 11,366.

That’s a shame because no matter what party you align with politically, there is no denying that a solid two-party system is the key to necessary checks and balances of a strong democracy.

On a side note, residents in many local townships won’t see any races until November. Be careful, however, about planning to simply skip the election until you’ve made certain that there aren’t any issues for your local community or school district, or any liquor options that require your attention.

For now, several issues for things like road repairs, fire department funds and school operations are awaiting certification for the ballots in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

The local boards of elections will certify partisan candidates and local options by a Feb. 13 deadline. Write-in candidates must file their intent to run in the primary no later than Feb. 21.

Non-party, or independent, candidates who hope to appear on the November general election ballot will file by May 1 or one day before the primary election.

Ohioans hoping to vote in the May 2 primary have until April 3 to register. For the first time ever, Ohioans can now register online to vote by visiting The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 63, which authorizes the use of online voter registration in Ohio. The bill allowed the system to be made available to Ohioans as early as Jan. 1.