The following information has been prepared by student associates with Kenyon's Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD), under the supervision of CSAD’s associate director, using public sources such as candidates’ websites, LinkedIn posts, Knox News reporting, and our own outreach to candidates.

See your ballot in advance

Candidates for Sheriff

No Democrat filed a valid petition for this race. This means that the winner of the Republican primary wins the race to become sheriff in 2025. Here, in alphabetical order, are the three candidates:

Wayne Noggle (R):  Wayne Noggle is a resident of Mount Vernon and a retired deputy in the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He is running on a platform of transparency and experience. Noggle’s 32-year career in the sheriff’s office included time in the jail division and patrol division. He was also lead associate and later lodge president of the Knox County Fraternal Order of Police. If elected, Noggle would aim to make the sheriff’s office more accessible to Knox County citizens.

William Shaffer (R): William Shaffer (no relation to the current sheriff) is a resident of Mount Vernon, and is the current jail administrator for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He has been endorsed by the Knox County Republican Party. Shaffer’s platform emphasizes his 20 years of experience in the Sheriff’s Office, including his budget management responsibilities and his implementation of mental health and substance treatment programs. If elected, he would involve the community through a volunteer Citizen’s Academy. Shaffer would also consult local leaders and use computerized crime mapping software to identify high-risk areas.

Daniel Weckesser (R): Daniel Weckesser is a resident of Danville, where he is the current chief of police. He is running on a platform of transparency and innovation. As police chief, Weckesser got K9s assigned to officers, created an Equine Mounted Patrol Unit, and instituted a drug education program in Danville schools. If elected, he aims to take a proactive approach to crime prevention by putting more K9-equipped deputies on the street. Weckesser also wants to increase officer training surrounding narcotics, human trafficking, and crimes against the elderly, as well as providing schools with resources about online sexual predators.

Candidates for County Commissioner 

Republicans competing for the seat with a term commencing Jan. 2, 2025, are:

Thom Collier (R) is the incumbent in this seat. Collier served on the Mount Vernon City Council from January to September 2000 and was a state representative from September 2000 until December 2008. In his county webpage bio, Collier describes his stances as fiscally conservative, friendly to agriculture, pro-business and pro-Second Amendment.

Drenda Keesee (R) lives in Mount Vernon and is the co-founder of Faith Life Church.  She is an author, life coach, pastor and host of a YouTube channel and a television program. Her campaign stresses her conservative values and opposition to solar farms. 

Bob Phillips (R) owns and operates Vernon View Golf Course, a family business in Mount Vernon. Before purchasing the golf course, Phillips was a realtor, broker and owner of Re/Max franchises for 30 years. While he believes that embracing renewable energy is crucial, Phillips strongly believes that we should not sacrifice farmland to do so. If elected, Phillips would work to find alternative solutions that preserve the agricultural heritage of Knox County.

Republicans competing for the seat with a term commencing Jan. 3, 2025:

Jeff Harmer (R) has been the general manager of the Apple Valley Property Owners Association for over 25 years. He is the president of the Knox County Board of Health and a board member for Knox Energy. Harmer began his career at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and has also worked for the Fredericktown Fire Department and the Fredericktown Emergency Medical Service. Harmer says that “Knox County needs teamwork, commitment, hard work and planning to guide future growth.”

Barry Lester (R) lives in Mount Vernon and graduated from Fredericktown High School.  He has owned and operated two restaurants and was the general manager of the Mount Vernon Country Club. Lester served three years as a medic in the U.S. Army. He ran for county commissioner in 2020. Lester strongly opposes the Frasier solar project and emphasizes the importance of listening to local voices.

Jennifer Snow (R) lives in Gambier and has been a realtor for three decades. She was also a program coordinator for Knox Community Hospital for eight years and is the president of the Republican Women of Knox County. As county commissioner, Snow would seek new ways to generate revenue, and proposes creating a Building and Contractor Licensing Department. This would “help control growth, monitor the work being performed and generate monies from external sources working in Mount Vernon and Knox County.”

Scott Zimmerman (R) lives in Mount Vernon, where he worked 17 years in the city’s parks and street divisions, rising to superintendent of the city’s buildings, lands and parks. Earlier in his career, he worked for thirteen years for the Mount Vernon Development Center. His campaign website names his priorities as: improving infrastructure, supporting small business, building community partnerships, preparing for growth-without-sprawl, protecting property rights to keep the rural community, and maintaining open communications with residents, city, villages and townships. 

One Democrat is running for this county commissioner seat:

Chuck Rogers (D) was born and raised in Mount Vernon and graduated from the Knox County Career Center and earned an associate's degree from Butte College. Rogers is a retired flight paramedic and spent 22 years as a first responder. He is the co-founder of Shady Owl Randy Animal Sanctuary, a board member of Habitat for Humanity for Knox County, an actor and set builder for MTVarts and a member of the Knox County Beekeepers Association. Rogers wants to prioritize workforce housing, medication access and government transparency. He says “I believe that patients should have access to their medications within the county, build affordable workforce housing and bring transparency to the commissioner position.”

Candidates for County Treasurer

The winner on the Republican primary ballot will become the county treasurer, because the Democratic Party has not filed a candidate for this office. 

Connie Durbin (R) has served the Knox County government for the past 21 years, working in both the auditor and treasurer’s offices. She is currently the county’s chief deputy treasurer. Durbin is a lifelong county resident and a graduate of Fredericktown High School. When asked by CSAD what she will prioritize if elected, she said, “The biggest issues facing this position are collecting delinquent taxes and the rising operating costs of the office. I will maintain efficiency and address rising costs with the commissioners. I work directly with delinquent taxpayers to put them into payment plan. We verify they adhere to plan. If payment plan is not followed, tax foreclosure can follow.” She has also stated that she will focus on government transparency by maintaining the office’s open door policy, increasing accessibility to meetings, and making sure the office is ready to handle growth in the county as a result of the new Intel semiconductor factory.

Amber Keener (R) is a Mount Vernon City Councilwoman (at-large). She has used her position to procure private funds for local improvements in Mount Vernon as well as lobbying for Knox County at the State House, in Columbus. Keener has signaled that as Treasurer, she would continue this sort of lobbying on the community’s behalf. In a Mount Vernon News article, she said that, “The job of treasurer is not just a clerk, the job of treasurer is a political office, and it’s important for this office to recognize that connections and meetings in Columbus can really benefit the county.” Keener also wants to extend the hours of the office during tax season, diversify the county’s investment portfolio, and deal with the impact of the new Intel semiconductor factory on the county.

Candidates for State Representative

In November, the winner of the Republican primary will take on Annie Homstad, the only candidate for this office on the Democratic primary ballot. 

Republican candidates for state representative:

Mark Hiner (R), owner of the Columbus Broadcasting Corporation and president of WCBZ-TV, received a bachelor’s degree in broadcast technology from Ashland University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio University. Hiner’s describes himself on his campaign website as a conservative who is pro-life, favors school choice, a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and willing to fight to eliminate the state income tax. Hiner has received endorsements from outgoing representative Darrell Kick, the Knox County Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Knox County Commissioner Bill Pursel.

Brandon Lape (R), an information technology and services professional at the Ariel Corporation, received an associate degree in information technology/networking from the University of Phoenix. Lape’s campaign website sets out a platform of specific policy proposals to "protect Ohio from federal overreach" by rejecting federal gun laws and the authority of the ATF, prohibiting the Ohio National Guard from participating in an undeclared war, "leveraging the private market" to grow industries in the district, and changing health and taxation policies to "make Ohio a retirement haven."

Scott Pullins (R) is a lawyer and former State House lobbyist with a law office in Mount Vernon. He was a co-founder of the Ohio Taxpayers Association and is a member of the Knox County Republican Central Committee. According to his websites, Pullins is pro-life on both abortion and the death penalty, favors legalized marijuana, opposes Red Flag gun laws and opposes mask or vaccine mandates, among other positions. He opposes industrial solar and wind energy projects on farmland and proposes local zoning should control such projects.

Annie Homstad (D) is a resident of Apple Valley. She owns an accounting business and serves as treasurer and substitute teacher for her local school. Her website describes her priority concerns as expanding health care infrastructure to serve children and the elderly; expanding broadband service in rural areas; job security for Ohioans, utility assistance programs, and increased school funding to enable smaller class sizes. She is endorsed by the Knox County, Holmes County and Coshocton County Democratic Parties and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

Candidates for Ohio Supreme Court

Background: In 2020, Justice Sharon Kennedy (R) was re-elected to a six-year term on the Ohio Supreme Court, but in 2022, she ran for chief justice and won, leaving a vacancy in her original seat. The governor appointed Judge Joe Deters (R) to fill Kennedy’s seat until a new election would be held, this year, to finish the unexpired term. Justice Deters has decided to challenge Justice Melody Stewart (D) for a full six-year term, rather than running to stay in his appointed seat for two more years.

All of this means that there is an open race in November for the remaining two years of one of the seats on the court. The Republican nominee on the November ballot will be Dan Hawkins (R) and the Democratic nominee will be determined in the March 19, 2024, primary by the results of the Democratic Party ballot. Detailed, objective information about judicial candidates is available online from Judicial Votes Count.

Lisa Forbes (D) was elected to the 8th District Court of Appeals in 2020 after more than two decades as a litigator, at the trial and appellate court levels, for the Cleveland office of a national business law firm. Forbes was a first-generation-in-college student at Cornell University and earned her J.D., summa cum laude, from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Forbes told Judicial Votes Count that “If the citizens of Ohio do not have trust and confidence in the courts to dispense justice and to apply the law fairly, we risk a breakdown of orderly democratic society… . I will commit myself to the fair and just application of the law without regard to any agenda.” Forbes chairs the board of directors of The Centers, a large community organization in Cleveland providing health, behavior, jobs, and family services. She has the endorsement of the Ohio Democratic Party, Senator Sherrod Brown and The Plain Dealer/

Terri Jamison (D) was elected to the 10th District Court of Appeals in 2020, after eight years as a judge in domestic relations and juvenile cases on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. She studied law at Capital University and was a public defender for Franklin County before starting her own firm, focusing on criminal, domestic, juvenile and probate law. Her campaign website describes her judicial philosophy at length and notes that she is seeking election to the state supreme court: (1) to preserve the court’s status as an independent and co-equal branch of state government, and (2) to ensure that “equal justice under the law” is the reality for all Ohioans. Jamison once worked in the West Virginia coal mines and worked her way through college as owner of an insurance agency, while raising children as a single mother.

Daniel Hawkins (R) is a judge on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and was previously a Franklin County Municipal Court Judge on housing and environmental cases. He earned his JD at The Ohio State University, after studying criminal justice at Bowling Green State University. He worked for thirteen years as a trial prosecutor in Franklin County, ten of those as director of the special victims unit prosecutions, where he worked to shut down illicit establishments and pioneered court-based treatment programs. His campaign emphasizes the importance of preserving the rule of law and ensuring equal justice and he has the endorsement of the Ohio Republican Party.

Candidates for 5th District Court of Appeals

The 5th Ohio district court of appeals handles appeals from 15 county courts in central/eastern Ohio. Cases are heard by three-judge panels, but the 5th circuit has six judges on the bench. The senior one is the presiding judge. No candidates are running in November as Democrats for this court of appeals, so whoever wins these Republican primaries will win these seats on the bench.

For the Republican nomination to the full term commencing Feb. 9, 2025:

Aletha Carver (R) has worked as a mediation attorney for the Fifth District Court of
Appeals since 2019. Before taking on this role, she worked for eight years in private
practice. Past positions include magistrate for the Stark County Probate Court and staff
attorney for the Fifth District Court of Appeals. Carver graduated from the University of
Akron School of Law and clerked for Judges John Wise and Harold DeHoff. She has
been endorsed by the Knox County Republican Party and by the central/executive
committees of the Republican Party in Delaware and Fairfield counties. She received a
“highly recommended” rating from the Stark County Bar Association.

Jeff Furr (R) has been practicing law privately for 30 years. He has argued before the
Court of Appeals in the past. Furr also served two terms on the Johnstown City Council
and served in the Ohio Army National Guard. He graduated from Capital University Law
School with honors.

Robert Montgomery (R) was a judge on the Franklin County Common Pleas Court,
an elected position, from 2011 to 2021. He was the Franklin County recorder from 2000
to 2010. For three decades, he has been a managing member of a hydro carbon
investments firm. Montgomery graduated from Capital University Law School with
honors. He has been endorsed by Ohio Right to Life.

For the Republican nomination to the full term commencing Feb. 10, 2025:

Both candidates for this race have a “recommended” rating from the Stark County Bar

Dixie Park (R) is judge of the Stark County Probate Court, an elected position she has
held since 2004. In the past, she positions as assistant law director for the city of
Alliance and acting judge for the municipal court there. Park graduated from the
University of Akron School of Law and clerked for Judge Harry Klide. She is endorsed
by the Knox County Republican Party and “highly recommended” by Votes for Women.

Kevin Popham (R) is an attorney who has worked in private practice for the past 20
years. He is currently a senior trial attorney at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
Popham previously worked in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and for the Ohio Court
of Claims. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve. Popham graduated from Capital
University Law School. He has been endorsed by Ohio Right to Life, Congressman Troy
Balderson and the Republican Party of Delaware and Fairfield counties, among others.

For the Republican nomination to the full term commencing Feb. 11, 2025:

Patricia Delaney (R) has served on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006 and
is now the presiding judge. Before being elected to the bench, she was an assistant city
attorney for Columbus and an Ohio assistant attorney general. She graduated from the University of Toledo College of Law. Delaney has been rated “highly recommended” by the Stark County Bar Association.

David Gormley (R) is the presiding judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware
County and has served on that bench since 2015. Previously he was a judge on the
Delaware Municipal Court, director of legal resources for the Supreme Court of Ohio,
and an Ohio assistant attorney general. Gormley graduated from Harvard University
Law School and clerked for U.S. Appellate Court Judge Albert Engel. He has been
endorsed by the Knox County Republican Party, several other county Republican
parties and Ohio Right to Life.