CLINTON COUNTY — The local field in the 2023 election cycle continues to grow.
A third mayoral candidate
Jason Stoops, owner of Midnight Auto Repair, has taken out a petition to run for mayor of the City of Wilmington in November. Stoops will run as an independent. He told the News Journal this is his first time running for public office.
The biggest issue he’s focused on is the homeless situation in Wilmington. He referenced how many property and business owners – particularly around Sugartree Street – have been dealing with homeless/vagrant problems, including criminal activity.
“We’ve been dealing with the homeless situations and we’re not making any headway,” Stoops told the News Journal. “Nothing is getting better, and I keep getting a bunch of no’s. So I thought … I’ll run.”
He indicated he was not looking to shut down Sugartree Ministry or any other homeless assistance agency.
“When I talked to Michael Snarr and Lee Sandlin, they keep saying they need help from the city,” said Stoops.
He told the News Journal that he has been homeless himself and understands what they go through, and that he’s even had prior felony convictions.
“I’ve battled these issues myself and I’m proof they can change,” he said.
He told the News Journal he’s not looking to make “monster changes” from incumbent mayor John Stanforth’s administration but wants to bring his own experience and perspective to the role.
“I’m an open book. So if anyone has a question, they can talk to me,” Stoops said.
Stanforth is being challenged by Pat Haley, former Clinton County Commissioner and Sheriff, in the Republican primary in May.
Clinton County Municipal Court Judge
As of this publication, three locals have entered the race to fill the seat left by the late Mike Daugherty.
The three candidates include Wilmington City Prosecutor David Henry, Wilmington Law Director Brett Rudduck, and former Wilmington Law Director Judy Gano. All three will face each other in the Republican primary in May. Daugherty held the seat from the summer of 2015 until his death in September 2022. The seat has been currently filled in by visiting judges.
Henry told the News Journal he believes he is the most qualified for the position due to his long experience as a prosecutor.
“I’ve worked at the Attorney General’s office and for the Governor’s office,” said Henry.
He recalled his journey to city prosecutor began when he ran into Judge Daugherty at a gas station around three years ago.
“He told me they might have an opening in the future and I jumped at it when it became available,” said Henry. “Mike and I had been friends for 20 years … and we had talked about this position because Mike was interested in being the Common Pleas Judge.”
Henry told the News Journal he hopes to bring his experience as a prosecutor into the position while also carrying on Daugherty’s legacy.
“He believed everyone should be treated equally,” said Henry.
Rudduck originally took out a petition for to run for Wilmington Law Director and Municipal Court Judge, but ultimately decided to run for the latter.
Rudduck feels that he knows the community given how he also represents multiple villages as their solicitor and prosecutor. He cites his work working as both a prosecutor and defense attorney.
“(Daugherty’s) bull-crap detector was off the chart for both defense and prosecution. I feel like I have that same type of detector,” said Rudduck, adding he possessed the same level of fairness and community understanding that Daugherty had.
Gano, a practicing attorney, is running for the seat for the fourth time.
Gano told the News Journal this was the position she has always wanted to have.
“I’ve spent my career in the municipal court and I’ve felt qualified for the job,” she said.
Gano previously ran for Municipal Court Judge in 2001, 2003, and 2015. She previously served as Wilmington’s Law Director and the City Attorney for Jonesboro, Arkansas.
She wants to bring a combination of her ideas while also keeping what Daugherty brought to the position.
“I have my own background, knowledge, integrity, and fairness. I love my community and I want to serve it,” she said.
Other candidate news:
– The Wilmington At-Large Council Republican primary race has become contested with four candidates. The candidates as of now include Jamie Knowles, David Nanstad, Molly Boatman, and First Ward Council member Jonathan McKay.
– Justin Dickman (R) and Joshua Engel (I) have taken out a petition to run for Wilmington Law Director.
– Joshua Schlabach (R) and Kelly Tolliver (R) have taken out a petition to run for the first ward seat of Wilmington Council.
– Betsy Wellman and James Constable (both independents) are running for Blanchester Village Council.
– Dennis Blocker (R) and Robert Haines (R) both took out petitions to run again for Blanchester Board of Trustees of Public Affairs.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574