COALVILLE — Citing lingering health issues and time constraints, Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt on Monday announced his intention to suspend his campaign for a seat on the Summit County Council.
As of Wednesday morning, Schmidt had not officially withdrawn from the race but he said he intended to meet with county elections officials later Wednesday.
"This decision has come with a heavy heart," Schmidt said in an email to supporters. "It is imperative that I spend some time placing myself and family first. I know that this may come as a letdown to my supporters and for that I am deeply sorry."
Because his decision comes within a 30-day cutoff for ballot changes, his withdrawal from the race presents a number of potential complications for the upcoming election. Summit County Chief Deputy Clerk Ryan Cowley said overseas and absentee ballots have already been mailed, creating the possibility that voters unaware of Schmidt's decision may have already — or could potentially still — cast a vote for the Coalville mayor.
"There's no way to remove him from the ballot," Cowley said. "Right now he could still be elected."
After Schmidt officially withdraws from the race, Cowley said any votes cast in his favor would be thrown out as null votes. He said the county will do what it can to inform voters of the change by posting updates on the county website and signs at polling stations, but the possibility remains that some votes will go uncounted.
"There's so many things that have already fallen into place," Cowley said. "There's only so much we can do."
Another scenario, Cowley said, is that if Schmidt fails to officially withdraw from the race through the county clerk's office, he would still be elected if he gained the most votes. If Schmidt were to then resign, his council seat would be treated like any other vacancy, with the county Republican party charged with selecting a new council member.
Because the county council election is partisan, Schmidt's withdrawal also presents a challenge for the Summit County Republican Party. The deadline for nominating a replacement candidate has passed. But on Monday, Jacqueline Smith registered with the county clerk as an independent write-in candidate.1 comment on this story
Summit County Republican Party Chairman Henry Glasheen said the party is throwing its support behind Smith. He said he was saddened by the news of Schmidt's withdrawal, but was confident in Smith's ability to represent the needs of her constituents.
"I think Jacqueline is a formidable candidate," Glasheen said. "She's very politically active."
Schmidt said he will fulfill his current term as mayor of Coalville, which comes up for election next year. Because of his health and work responsibilities, he said he would not have been able to meet the greater demands of a county councilman but was confident he could perform his duties as mayor.