UPDATE: Belpre only location in Washington County with contested primary

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Update: 5/7/2019

According to the Washington County Board of Elections, only 230 people had cast ballots in the city of Belpre as of 4 P.M. Tuesday.

Belpre is the only part of the county this year with contested primary races, meaning it is the only area where votes are being cast.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is appealing to all those eligible to do so to vote today.

"Important decisions are being made today that are going to impact the quality of life in your community. The way that your children are educated, in some cases. These local elections have a big impact on your life. And no one should skip this opportunity. If you come to your polling place between now and 7:30pm you are going to have an opportunity to very easily cast your ballot."

Polls in Belpre, located at the Church of Christ on Ohio route 618, are open until 7:30 P.M.

We will have results from the primary on our newscasts at 10 and 11 P.M., and at www.wtap.com.

Update: 4/22/2019

The Washington County Board of Elections says, as of Monday morning, 20 people had cast early voting ballots for the May 7 primary.

Early and absentee voting continues until May 6, at the board of elections office on Davis Avenue in Marietta.

Update: 3/27/2019

There will be a primary election in Washington County this year-but just for the city of Belpre, and just for registered Republican voters.

Mayoral candidates John McClead and Judy Drake will face off in that May 7 primary, with the winner facing incumbent Democrat Michael Lorentz in the November general election.

Two candidates, Kelly Cox and Penne Riffle, are also in the running for the Republican nomination for Belpre City Council's fourth ward.

There are no other contested races in Washington County.

"The only people who will have anything in Washington County is the city of Belpre, which has four precincts voting at the Belpre Church of Christ," County Board of Elections Deputy Director Peggy Byers explained Tuesday. "And it's only Republicans who have anything on the ballot at all. If you don't want to vote Republican this time, there's no reason to show up."

The deadline for independent candidates to file for the November election is the day before the primary, May 6.

Early voting for the primary begins April 9 at the Board of Elections office on Davis Drive in Marietta.

The deadline for voter registration is April 7.

UPDATE: 2/6/19 6 P.M.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews was not among those who completed paperwork to run in the upcoming primary election in May ahead of Wednesday afternoon's deadline.

However, the two-term incumbent told WTAP after the 4 p.m. deadline that he is considering joining the field as an Independent candidate.

According to a list released by the Washington County Board of Elections, current City Council President Josh Schlicher, a Republican, and Harley Noland, a Democrat, filed to run for mayor.

Matthews has until May 6 to decide whether he'll enter the primary. That's the deadline for anyone who wants to run as an Independent candidate.

Meanwhile, April 8 is the deadline to register to vote in Washington County in the May 7 election. Early voting is set to begin April 9.

The General Election will be Nov. 5.

Following is a list of candidates who have filed to seek office in Marietta and Belpre:

- Marietta City Law Director: Paul Bertram, Republican
- Marietta Mayor: Harley Noland, Democrat; Joshua Schlicher, Republican
- Marietta City Auditor: Sherri Hess, Republican
- Marietta City Council President: Susan Vessels, Republican
- Marietta City Council 1st Ward: Michael Scales, Democrat
- Marietta City Council 2nd Ward: Michael McCauley, Democrat; Kyle Boker, Republican
- Marietta City Council 3rd Ward: William Gossett, Republican; Steve Thomas, Democrat
- Marietta City Council 4th Ward: Geoffrey Schenkel, Democrat
- Marietta City Council At Large: Susan Boyer, Democrat; Kathy Downer, Democrat; Russell Mercer, Republican; Cassidi Shoaf, Republican

- Belpre City Law Director: Thomas Webster, Democrat
- Belpre City Mayor: Judith Drake, Republican; Romel Henderson, Independent; Michael Lorentz, Democrat; John McClead, Republican
- Belpre City Council President: Will Neff, Republican
- Belpre City Council 1st Ward: Jeffery Barrett, Republican; Josh Campbell, Republican
- Belpre City Council 2nd Ward: Elmer Lee Shutts, Republican
- Belpre City Council 3rd Ward: Timothy Gant, Republican
- Belpre City Council 4th Ward: Kelly Cox, Republican; Penne Riffle, Republican
- Belpre City Council At Large: Susan Abdella, Republican; David E. Ferguson, Republican; Larry Martin, Republican; Donna Miller, Republican

UPDATE: 2/1/2019

The mayors of Marietta and Belpre plan re-election bids.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews has taken out petitions to run for re-election to what would be his 6th term, and 3rd consecutive term, in office.

Two others have also taken out petitions to run for that office: City Council President Josh Schlicher and Marietta resident Harley Noland.

Noland is the only one of the three candidates to file petitions so far.

Matthews was first elected mayor in 1991, and returned to the office in 2012.

in Belpre, Mike Lorentz is running for his fourth term in that office.

Lorentz was first elected to the office in 2007, after serving as President of City Council.

In early January, he told us he had not yet made up his mind about running again.

But he says he's still in good health, and would like to serve the city for another four years.

One of his goals is making Belpre attractive for younger people.

" We need people moving here; we need people working and living here," Lorentz said Friday. "That's what we're about, making the city better so the professionals and people with kids looking for a good school and a nice home will land here, and not travel elsewhere."

Lorentz is one of seven people who have taken out petitions to run for Belpre.

The others are current councilwoman Judith Drake, Ron Eddy, Dana Fouss, Romel Henderson and John McClead.

The filing deadline for the May primary is Wednesday, February 6.


Only one West Virginia community in the immediate area plans an election in 2019.

Three of the six seats on the city council in St. Marys are up June 11.

In Ohio, the elections will mostly be confined to local communities.

In Washington County, mayors' terms are up in Marietta and Belpre.

While Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews hasn't yet declared his intentions, City Council President Joshua Schlicher has taken out petitions to run for the mayor's office.

In Ohio, candidates are required to seek a required amount of signatures on petitions before officially filing for office.

Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz tells us he hasn't yet decided whether to run for a fourth term. He was first elected in 2007.

Terms of the mayors won't be the only things ending this year. So will use of the county's current voting machine system, which has been in place nearly 25 years.

"We've already had the bidders in for a meeting, and we'll be picking new machinery for Washington County this year," says Peggy Byers, Deputy Elections Director. "We're paper, but there's a new system out called a Hybrid, where you can vote on a computer-type field, but it will give you a piece of paper so you can see who you vote for."

Washington is among several counties receiving Ohio money to upgrade its voting machine systems.

The primary elections in Ohio, where candidates for mayor and city council face off for party nominations, is May 7th.

The November 5th election will also feature non-partisan candidates for school boards and township trustees.