All Politics Are Local: May Primary Election News & Opinion

Voters in Scioto County will go to the polls on May 2 to vote in elections for First and Third Ward Council members (Portsmouth) and for Village Councilperson-at-Large (New Boston).

Portsmouth voters across the city will also have the opportunity to vote on proposed changes to the city’s charter amending the number of hours municipal employees may work.

In New Boston voters will be able to choose up to two individuals from the five names in consideration for the openings. Those running include former Portsmouth Daily Times reporter and editor Ryan Ottney, renowned local gadfly Johnny Whisman, Lori Grant, Ralph Imes Jr., and Gary G. Stephenson.  


Ryan Ottney, who is running for Councilperson-at-Large for New Boston in Scioto County, Ohio, has emerged as one of the leading progressive voices in local politics.  In this photograph, Ottney speaks to supporters of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement at their March 2017 meeting. (Photo Credit:  SOPM Media)


As the grandson of the late Charles "Burr" Ottney, who served as New Boston mayor from 1971-1993, Ryan Ottney has the right political lineage for public office, and since the New Year he has also emerged as a leading progressive voice in local politics.  Ottney has spoken to audiences at both the Scioto County Democratic Party's Central Committee and at the recent meetings of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement.  Ottney's election will be the first indication of a change in the local political winds.

In Portsmouth’s First Ward voters will be choosing between incumbent councilmember Kevin W. Johnson, SSU sociology professor Sean Dunne, and R. Michael Osborne.  Osborne has been running a seemingly stealth campaign, while Johnson and Dunne have both spoken at recent meetings of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement.  Dunne is running as an "Independent," while Johnson maintains his affiliation with the Scioto County Democratic Party.  At the SOPM's February meeting, Dunne spoke briefly about his campaign, including his support for the creation of a new "dog park" for downtown Portsmouth, and, in March, Johnson helped inaugurate the SOPM’s new “Progressive Voices” speaker series, highlighting his role in drafting a new anti-predatory lending ordinance, which is currently under consideration by the Portsmouth City Council.  Dunne will once again have the opportunity to speak at the SOPM’s upcoming meeting on Friday, April 21st.

In Portsmouth's Third Ward voters will be choosing between incumbent Kevin E. Johnson, local businessman Robert E. Gambill, Jerry Skiver, and local musician and progressive activist David W. Duncan.  Both Johnson and Duncan have accepted invitations from the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement to speak at their meeting on Friday, April 21st.  With the primary election scheduled for May 2nd, this may be the last chance Portsmouth voters will have to hear from these candidates before they go to the polls.  The SOPM's speaker series is open to candidates of all party affiliations and those following local politics are eager to compare and contrast the words of Kevin E. and David W.

As for the Charter Amendment, voters across Portsmouth will also be able to weigh in on a proposed amendment to Section 164 of the Portsmouth City Charter, relating to hours of labor, which would delete language limiting work to eight hours in a single day and 48 hours in a week.

Supporters of the amendment explain that the planned change would ostensibly be used to put more police on the street without increases in hiring by changing shifts so that there was greater overlap between officers finishing their patrols and officers beginning their shift.

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