Run for Office in 2021! (Or Help Others Run!)

(Updated May 24)

Let’s continue to bring positive change to Allen and Hardin! In November 2021, residents will elect new leaders for Town and Village Councils, School Boards, and Townships. Consider running for local political office or helping others campaign. The next filing deadline is August 4, and petition signatures will be needed, so the time to act is now! 

Step One: Choose Your Position!

If you file by August 4, you can run for:

  • School Board
  • Township Trustee
  • Council member in non-partisan races (e.g. Delphos, Beaverdam).

Here’s a quick overview of some of those races in Allen County. All elected positions can be found on the Board of Elections websites for Allen County and Hardin County. AHEAD has also created PDF summaries of all positions up for election in 2021 for each county: Allen County positions up for election 11/2021 and Hardin County positions up for election 11/2021.

….Or Help Others Run

We’ve passed the deadline to run for some offices in Hardin and Allen Counties (except as a write-in candidate). Those offices include Mayor and Council in Lima and Council in Kenton, Lima, Bluffton, and Ada. However, you can still help with candidates’ campaigns. Here’s a quick summary of who has filed in Ada, Bluffton, and Kenton. In Lima, the big race is for Mayor.

Step Two: Reach Out to Local Organizers
If you’re interested in running, local groups will help you get all of the information you need. They can also help with petition signatures. In order to run, candidates must gather a certain number of signatures (generally 25-50)

Step 3: Learn About Process and Deadlines

Local organizers can help you with the process. Some key elements: You’ll pick up petitions (signature forms) from the Board of Elections (Allen County, Hardin County). The deadline to submit these forms is August 4, but they can be tricky, so it’s good to do it ahead of time and get extra signatures.

For School Board, Township Trustee, and the remaining open Council positions, you can get signatures from any registered voter (doesn’t have to be a Democrat).

The big deadlines:

  • August 4: Deadline to file with Board of Elections if you are running for a non-partisan position (e.g. School Board/ Township Trustee)
  • November 2: Election Day

More details: Ohio Secretary of State calendar


April AHEAD Meeting: tomorrow, 4/21/21

Elected representatives who do not reflect our views: unfortunately, we all have them. New district maps will be drawn this year, and they will last for the next decade. How can we help make sure the process of redistricting is fair?

This question will be the focus of tomorrow’s AHEAD meeting, held virtually. Redistricting is so important that there are two events scheduled for tomorrow night.

Here’s the scoop for Wednesday, April 21:

  • Consider attending the 6:00 p.m. League of Women Voters of Ohio virtual event: “Race & Redistricting: The Voting Rights Act & Ohio Mapmaking” BEFORE our AHEAD event.
  • Join AHEAD members afterward, at 7 p.m., to discuss what was learned during the LWV event and how AHEAD can help. Holly Norton, League of Women Voters & AHEAD member, will facilitate the discussion. **Please note start time of AHEAD meeting has been changed to 7:00 p.m. due to the LWV event.** For the Zoom link to the 7 p.m. AHEAD meeting, please refer to this week’s AHEAD newsletter or visit the Facebook invite.

We hope to see you there!


March AHEAD Meeting: Wednesday 3/17/21 at 6:30 p.m!

The next (virtual) AHEAD Meeting will be this Wednesday, March 17, 6:30-7:30 p.m. We’ll have a half hour of learning, and a half hour of socializing!

First up will be a panel discussion, “Elected Officials Share How to Run for Office.” Our panelists will talk about local office: Council, Township Trustee, and School Board.

Panelists include:

  • Sheila Coressel (Ada Council)
  • Ben Stahl (Bluffton Council)
  • Peggy Ehora (ex-Lima School Board, Lima Council)
  • Daryl Flowers (Goshen Township Trustee)

Facebook invitation can be found here.

An overview of running for office can also be found on the AHEAD website: Run for Office in 2021!

We look forward to seeing you there!


AHEAD Holiday Celebration – Wednesday!

Join AHEAD friends on Wednesday, December 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m., for a holiday celebration via Zoom!

It has been a long year, but there’s a lot to celebrate. AHEAD friends will gather (virtually) to chat and connect before the New Year. Bring something to eat and drink, wear your festive attire, and let’s toast to 2021 and good things to come!

For additional details and the Zoom link, please see the Facebook invitationWe hope to see you there!


Voting for Change in Washington

“Women’s Ride to Vote” Celebrates 100 Years of women’s right to vote with diverse female speakers who advocate for human rights, civil liberties, and social justice.

Bluffton, OH: On Saturday, October 17th, hundreds of women from Allen, Hardin, Hancock, and Putnam counties will gather outdoors at 10 AM at the Bluffton Democratic headquarters at 216 W Elm. This early voting pep rally for change in Washington has a lineup that includes lawyers, activists, youth and politicians.

After the rally, people with absentee ballots and their supporters will drive in caravans to their respective Boards of Election and submit their ballots at the drop box. Expect to see many waving flags, decorated cars, lace collars, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg impersonators, as the event honors the life of RBG and simultaneously celebrates 100 years of women’s right to vote.

“We are joining together as women from all walks of life to vote in record numbers and demand that every single vote is counted,” said event organizer Jan Wiebe. “We have suffered through this season of crises and chaos, and we have had enough.”

A featured speaker is Shannon Freshour, who is running for election to the U.S. House to represent Ohio’s 4th Congressional district, against Jim Jordan. Freshour is committed to improving access to health care and education, and to repair the federal safety net for people in need of assistance.

In addition to Shannon Freshour, rally speakers include (alphabetized by last name):

  • Georgia Adams is a teacher, a chef, a musician, and an activist for social justice, with an emphasis on her Native American heritage.
  • Irma Ayers is the sister and Executive Assistant to Baldemar Velasquez, President of Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). She was born to migrant farm workers and raised in Putnam County. Irma feels called by God to help make a difference in the lives of the migrant immigrant farmworkers.
  • Amber Basares is the founder of Pink Diamond Ladies, a mentorship program for inner city urban girls between the ages of 6-25. She is an active member of PFC Leonard F Mason Marine Corps League, and is a board member of LACNIP. She has nine years of active duty service in the Marine Corps and her passion is advocating for minorities and women.
  • Sabina Clingerman is a 10th grader at Bluffton High School. She was the youngest participant in the 2016 Women’s March from Bluffton, and went on to organize the “Enough” school walkout in protest of lax gun laws after the Parkland, Florida school shooting in 2018.
  • Micaela Deming is the policy director and Staff Attorney at Ohio Domestic Violence Network, working for an end to domestic and sexual violence and for the safety of survivors and their families.
  • Anayeli Lopez moved to the US from Mexico when she was six years old, and will share her experience as an immigrant to this country. She is an independent make-up artist and photographer.
  • Louise Myers became the mayor of Cairo in 1960, where she served for 11 years. She worked in Bluffton 18 yrs. at Excello and then GROB until her retirement in 2005. She has been a church youth leader, choir member, and music director.
  • Holly Norton is a professor of English at the University of Northwestern Ohio. She is secretary on the board for the League of Women Voters of Lima. The LWV is celebrating 100 years of existence and suffrage this year.
  • Jill Steinmetz initiated the successful Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bluffton during the summer of 2020, which drew hundreds of supporters.
  • Natalie Strayer has spent her career in financial services, recently working to grow awareness of ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) investment options for faith-based investors. Her avocation has been creating housing solutions for teenage mothers with an emphasis on their professional development. She will speak on what it means to be pro-life and anti-Trump.
  • JaMesha Williamson, J.D. is an Attorney Advisor for the Social Security Administration. She spends the bulk of her spare time working to positively impact her community, and currently sits on the board for the United Way – Greater Lima, the Bradfield Community Center, and is the Attorney Advisor to the Lima African American Chamber of Commerce. She co-founded the Millennial Action Pact (MAP), and JaMesha serves as the current President.

The event is being organized by AHEAD, and is happening in conjunction with Women’s March activists and coalitions across the country, with over 300 events planned, in all 50 states.

In January 2017, over a million Americans gathered at rallies across the world to protest Trump’s anti-woman actions in the largest single-day protest in US history. That included 106 individuals who left from Bluffton on two charter buses organized by Wendy Chappell-Dick to participate in the event in Washington D.C. “The most crucial election of our lifetimes is now underway, and the current administration is threatening to stay in office no matter its outcome. The candidates are in a tight race in Ohio, and we ask people to vote early and fight together for the future,” Chappell-Dick asserts. Both in-person and absentee voting began Oct 6.

Participants are asked to wear masks and social distance. RBG costumes and decorated cars are encouraged. Women, men, and children are welcome.

For more information on October 17 events around the country, visit womensmarch.com.


Election Countdown – Keep moving AHEAD!


Meme credit: Wendy Chappell-Dick

The election is drawing near! Here’s how to keep informed, volunteer, and make sure your vote counts!

Keep Informed:

  • AHEAD: Facebook group, website, email
  • Hardin County Democrats:  Facebook page, website, email
    • Headquarters: 1 N Detroit St., Kenton
    • Hours: 12-6 T-F, 12-8 Th, 10-2 Saturday. Closed Mondays except November 2: open that day 12-6.
  • Allen County Democrats: Facebook page, website
    • Headquarters: 1056 Bellefontaine Ave, Lima
    • Hours: 11am-2pm and 4pm-7pm M, W, F, and Sat
  • Bluffton Democrats: Facebook page
    • Headquarters: 218 E. Elm St., Bluffton
    • Hours: 6-8 pm Weds


Efforts are organized locally and at the state level. You can participate in all!

  • Volunteer here for Allen County-focused efforts through Election Day. Activities include phonebanking, textbanking, no-knock lit drops, and following up on absentee ballots by contacting voters who’ve requested them, to make sure they’re mailed in.
  • Volunteer here for Hardin County-focused efforts through Election Day. Activities include phonebanking and textbanking.
  • Find activities organized by the Ohio Democratic Party and Biden campaign on the Mobilize platform. Events are sorted by location but anyone can join
  • Voter protection efforts for the election are organized by a coalition including the League of Women Voters and ACLU. Lots of virtual and in-person ways to volunteer, from social media monitoring to staffing the election hotline.
  • Ohio’s Supreme Court race is critical: Our candidates are Judge Jennifer Brunner and Judge John O’Donnell. Send postcards to voters encouraging them to support these candidates: get involved by texting JOIN to 484-275-2229. Effort is organized by the national group Postcards to Voters; this campaign is #216.
  • Check out all our candidates: We are lucky to have many great individuals on the Democratic ticket, including candidates for U.S. House of Representatives Nick Rubando (District 5) and Shannon Freshour (District 4). Find out more about them and get in touch with their campaigns.

Make Your Vote Count

The Ohio Democratic Party has great resources on voting, including FAQS on who can vote and what ID you need.

  • Tip: if you vote early, you only need your Social Security Number.
  • They also have the Democratic sample ballots: Allen County here, Hardin County here.
  • Watch out for the Ohio Supreme Court candidates, who aren’t on the partisan section of the ballot. Dems support Judge Jennifer Brunner and Judge John O’Donnell, who are running for separate seats.
  • For Hardin County, remember to write in Mary Harshfield for the 83rd House District: She is running against Jon Cross. 

We can vote by mail, vote in person before Election Day or vote in person on Election Day. Check your registration status here. More voting guidance on the Secretary of State’s site.

  • Track ballot here.
  • Filling out absentee ballots can be tricky: remember to sign! Tips here.
  • Early voting times are here.
  • Info on COVID safety precautions here.
  • If we have requested an absentee ballot but want to vote in person, we can do this during early voting by bringing in our absentee ballot to the board of elections and exchanging it. Details here.

We hope it will be smooth. If you have questions or issues at the polls, here are some actions you can take:

  • Call 844-OH-I-VOTE (844-644-8683). This number is staffed by the Ohio Democratic Party.
  • Call the Election Protection Hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, the nation’s largest non-partisan hotline. Details here.
  • If there’s disruption or intimidation: call local law enforcement.
And, help others: get involved in voter protection efforts organized by a coalition including the League of Women Voters and ACLU.


Sign, sign, everywhere a sign…

Make your sign a Biden/Harris one!

Ordering Biden/ Harris Lawn Signs and Other Merchandise:

There’s been tremendous appetite for lawn signs! AHEAD, the Allen Dems, and the Hardin Dems are all distributing them. AHEAD has also ordered bumper stickers and buttons.

Please reserve your items at this link: Request Biden/Harris Signs & Merch. (Update 10/8/2020: Please check with your local party headquarters for signage that might still be available, and thank you for everyone who requested Biden/Harris merch using our form!)

Info about pickup locations can be found at the link above where you reserve the items, and please be sure to wear a mask.

The lawn sign effort has been a tremendous team effort – special thanks to everyone who is helping to manage the pickup locations! We have received word from Toni Webb, head of the state Biden campaign, that they will be supplying free lawn signs later in September. Stay tuned!


AHEAD’s first virtual meeting: Tuesday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m!

AHEAD’s first-ever virtual meeting will be this Tuesday, July 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m. The meeting will focus on how to promote anti-racism locally. RSVP to the Facebook invite here or by emailing ahead.oh@gmail.com. Those who RSVP for the event will receive the Zoom link for the meeting on Tuesday.

Here’s the agenda:

  • Learn about the proposed Allen County Human Relations Commission and how AHEAD members can promote it. Presentation from from Sharetta Smith (Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office, Lima) and Carla Thompson (3rd Ward City Councilor, Lima).
  • Discuss other anti-racist actions we can engage in
  • Catch up with each other (yes, social time!)

We hope to see you all Tuesday evening!



Have COVID-19 questions?

The community group Ada SAFE 2020 (SAFE stands for Schools Are For Everyone) will be hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) entitled “AMA: COVID Questions” during the month of July. Details about the AMA and Ada SAFE 2020 are included below.

Ada SAFE 2020 has convened a panel of local experts to answer questions from the public (Ada as well as the surrounding communities are welcome to submit questions) about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, schools reopening, safety measures, etc. They will be collecting questions through Saturday, July 18. Tweet your questions to #AdaSAFE2020, or email them to AdaSAFE2020@gmail.com. Answers to as many questions as possible will be published through Ada SAFE 2020’s YouTube channel, and will be posted on Facebook and Twitter starting the last week of July. A playlist on the YouTube channel will allow members of the public to have access to all the questions and answers from the series.

Dr. Chris North, who is a member of the steering team for Ada SAFE 2020, sees the event as a unique opportunity. “So often we see things in the news that we don’t quite understand or hear things from others we aren’t really sure about,” she said. “This Ask Me Anything event gives everyone the opportunity to get clarification or ask those questions that people still have. I’m excited we are able to do this for the community.”

“We believe that as members of the community learn more together about how to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ada and Hardin county will stand as shining examples in the state of Ohio and the nation as a community where we care for one another by taking all the necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable community members,” said David MacDonald, co-convener of the organization. “We want everyone to know that there is hope in the midst of this pandemic, and that hope lies within each of us to have the ability and compassion to take simple steps to help our community stay SAFE in 2020.”

About Ada SAFE 2020: The purpose of Ada SAFE 2020 is to organize community members who wish to see our local schools adhere to medically and scientifically sound advice and guidelines when our schools open again in the fall, and to educate the public about the latest scientific research and guidance to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease which stems from the virus, COVID-19. Everyone is invited to join! Parents, students, school administrators, board members, and community members are all welcome. To contact Ada SAFE 2020, please email: AdaSAFE2020@gmail.com.

Additional information about Ada SAFE 2020 and the AMA: COVID Questions event:


Help Allen County Get a Human Relations Commission

Allen County Human Rights Commission:
new AHEAD initiative, launched July 2020.

A new AHEAD webpage with detailed information about this initiative can be found under the Take Action menu: Allen County Human Relations Commission.

A Human Relations Commission will promote respect and equal opportunity for all within Lima and Allen County. It’s an essential part of making Allen County a thriving community.

Here’s the short explanation: The City of Lima has proposed a multi-jurisdictional Human Relations Commission (HRC) to promote mutual respect and understanding and to safeguard equal opportunity for all within Lima and Allen County. The HRC will investigate and hear complaints regarding discrimination, make recommendations on how to resolve such complaints, and initiate activities in keeping with its mission. The work of the HRC will be focused around fact finding, staff training, information sharing, community education, mediation, cultural literacy, hate crime response, and conflict management. (More details farther down on this page.)

Getting the Human Relations Commission established will require support from elected officials across Allen County, especially the Allen County Commissioners.

You can help. Please contact your local elected officials, especially the Allen County Commissioners, and ask them to support a Human Relations Commission in Allen County.

And, write letters to your local newspaper telling others to support the Human Relations Commission.

Please visit the AHEAD webpage Allen County Human Relations Commission for the following information:

  • Contact info for the Allen County Commissioners and other elected officials
  • Contact info for local papers
  • Information on the Human Relations Commission that you can use in your call or letter.