By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

The filing deadline has passed and the races for the March Primary elections are now set.

This past Monday evening was the deadline for filing for a place on the ballot for those interested in running for office next March. After the deadline, a total of seven races will be on the Orange County Republican ballot and one on the Orange County Democratic ballot.

Last minute filings by several new Republican candidates have set up races for the positions of Orange County Constable in Precinct 2, County Clerk and expanded the field of candidates for Orange County Commissioner in Precinct 1.

On the last day of filing, three new candidates have come forward for the Precinct 1 seat on Orange County Commissioners Court. New candidates include Gary Hinote, Bobby Manshack and Ryan Peabody. These three men will join Johnny Trahan and Shirley Zimmerman for what will be a highly contested race for the Precinct 1 seat, which is currently held by David Dubose. Dubose announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

In the race for Orange County Constable in Precinct 2, incumbent Constable David Cagle will be opposed by Jeremiah Gunter, who filed prior to the deadline. Also, in the race for Orange County Clerk, appointee Brandy Robertson will be opposed by new candidate, Trish Williams.

Other races on the Republican ballot will include Orange County Sheriff as incumbent Keith Merritt faces opponent David Smith, plus incumbent John Banken will be opposed by challenger John Gothia for the Precinct 3 seat on Orange County Commissioners Court.

The Orange County Constable race for Precinct 4 will have incumbent Weldon Peveto being contested by Jimmy Lane Mooney, and the race for Tax Assessor-Collector will feature candidates Debbie Meaux and Karen Fisher on the ballot.

“Anytime you have this many people file for a county office, that means people want to step up and get involved,” said Shelia Faske, chairperson of the Orange County Republican Party. “The county level is where it all starts at. It’s easy to sit on your couch and complain, but these people want to be involved, and that’s a good sign.”

Unopposed races on the Orange County Republican ballot will include Chris Humble, Precinct 1 Constable; Mark Philpott, Precinct 3 Constable; John Kimbrough, Orange County Attorney; Troy Johnson, Orange County 2nd Court at Law; Courtney Arkeen, Orange County 128th District Court; Dennis Powell, Orange County 163rd District Court; and Sheila Faske, Orange County Republican Chairperson.

The Orange County Democratic Party has seen very little movement during the month-long filing period, unless it was candidates switching from Democrat to the Republican Party, as did Sheriff Keith Merritt and District Attorney John Kimbrough.

For the Orange County Democratic Party, there is only one contested race on the ballot and it will feature Deborah Mitchell, the incumbent Chairperson of the Orange County Democratic Party, and challenger Don Brown.