Plusquellic ekes out victory in close Primary
Recount possible in Akron Ward
4, Norton Council at-large races
By Kathleen Collins, Kathleen Folkerth and Stephanie Kist
GREATER AKRON — Voters living in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Norton headed to the polls for the Sept. 11 Primary Election. The winners in most races will run in the Nov. 6 General Election. According to Summit County Board of Elections Director Bryan Williams, countywide voter turnout was just less than 11 percent.
Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic emerged the victor in his primary race against fellow Democrat Joe Finley by a 53 percent (9,765 votes) to 47 percent (8,732 votes) margin. But Finley was not ready to concede Tuesday night.
During a party for Plusquellic’s campaign at Gus’ Chalet in North Akron, the mayor’s supporters gathered to await the vote totals. It wasn’t until 9 p.m. that Billy Soule, one of Plusquellic’s cabinet members, announced, “The mayor is a winner.”
Plusquellic entered the party minutes later, briefly telling reporters he was happy about the outcome before greeting three of his grandchildren. “Did your mom tell you I won?” he asked them.
The mayor, whose win gives him
an unprecedented sixth term in office because there
is not a Republican challenger for the General Election,
thanked his supporters and emphasized he wasn’t
interested in an analysis
of the numbers.
“I’ll bet you Ohio
State, when they played for the championship, would
have loved to win by six points. A win is a win,”
he said to applause.
But Plusquellic did say the close
race was not a surprise.
“A lot of people are upset
about a lot of things,” he said, citing the “anti-incumbent
mood” across the country.
“I’m glad the majority
had the wisdom to send this whole team back to Akron
City Hall,” he said.
A few miles away at Quaker Square’s
Trackside Grille, Finley, a former Akron city councilman,
and his supporters gathered. Even though Plusquellic
was accepting Tuesday night’s vote tally, Finley
said at 10 p.m. he was not ready to concede.
Finley said he wasn’t surprised
at the closeness of the race.
“We believed we were going
to win,” he said. “We felt a shift in support
over the past few weeks.”
The challenger said he is concerned
about possible wrongdoing at the polls that may have
an impact on the final outcome.
“We visited 20 precincts
ourselves, and what we heard is people were told it
would be a year [before they could vote Republican]
if they switched [from Republican to Democrat to vote],”
Finley said. Others were told their ballots would be
Finley said he planned to talk
to his legal counsel Sept. 12 and examine what his options
Williams said he has no knowledge
of anyone being turned away or refused to vote within
the guidelines set by the law. However, he said the
board is “always willing to exam and scrutinize
concerns about inappropriate processes.”
Despite Finley’s concerns
about the early results, he said he was thankful for
the support he received.
“There were a number of
people who took this campaign into their own hands,”
he said, citing residents who made their own signs to
Finley said he remains optimistic
that the decision as to who will be mayor of Akron isn’t
“The people of Akron are
anxious for change,” Finley said. “I’m
still confident we had a majority.”
In the Akron city wards in the
West Side Leader’s coverage area, one primary
race was so close the outcome could change.
Democrat DeAndre Forney beat
Akron City Council Ward 4 incumbent Reneé Greene
by four votes, taking 27.41 percent (741 votes) of the
vote to Greene’s 27.27 (737) percent. The official
winner will face Republican Cedric Colvin, who ran unopposed
in the Primary, in November.
“I’ve been in this
situation before, except I was down four two years ago,”
Forney said, recalling the 2005 Democratic Primary,
in which Greene defeated him by a slim margin. He said
it was about a week and a half to two weeks before a
firm winner was declared in the race. He said he’s
cautiously optimistic until he receives the final word
from the Board of Elections.
“A recount is very possible
in that ward,” Williams said .
He said Tuesday night there are
36 ballots yet to be counted, and the Board of Elections
will meet Sept. 19 to determine the final outcome. A
recount will take place if the margin is within one-half
of 1 percent.
Greene has served on Council
since 1998. She seemed subdued but also optimistic after
the votes were counted.
“It’s no different
than the time before. We have to wait for the provisionals,”
Also running in the Ward 4 Democratic
Primary were Russel Neal Jr., who received 23 percent
of the vote (630 votes), and Gerald Gould, who received
22 percent (595).
Akron City Council President
Marco Sommerville (D-Ward 3) defeated Effie Stewart
with 67 percent (1,018 votes to 506).
“We’ll take it,”
said Sommerville, who has served on Council since 1987.
Stewart didn’t return a
call seeking comment by presstime.
With Independent candidate Olin
Clay filing Sept. 10 to run against Sommerville in the
Nov. 6 General Election, Sommerville said he’ll
hit the campaign trail again this fall.
In Akron’s Ward 1, Democratic
incumbent James Hurley won handily over Rick Laubaugh,
taking 82 percent of the vote (1,421 votes to 313).
No Republican filed to run in the race.
Hurley was appointed by Council
in February after Dan Horrigan resigned.
“I was very humbled to
be appointed by Council in February, but right now I’m
very heart filled at the election and knowing that the
people chose me. I’m very overwhelmed,”
Laubaugh didn’t return
a call seeking comment by presstime.
Ward 8 Councilman Bob Keith was
unopposed in the Democratic Primary. He faces Republican
Randy Cole in the General Election.
In the Cuyahoga Falls Municipal
Court clerk race, incumbent Lisa Zeno Carano defeated
Christopher Hamad II by 86 percent of the vote (2,190
votes to 343) in the Democratic
Primary. In the Republican Primary, state Rep. John
Widowfield (R-District 42) defeated Keith Snock by 84
percent of the vote (1,681 to 323). Zeno Carano and
Widowfield will face seven Independent candidates who
filed Sept. 10. The candidates are Anne-Marie Bretzin,
Amy Goodrich, Carol Gostlin, Robin Hutchinson, Ruth
Mundy, Kimberly Steinwedel and Kristi Sykora.
In the Cuyahoga Falls City Council
Ward 8 race, Democrat Jim Bouplon ran unopposed and
will face Republican incumbent Terry Mader, who also
ran unopposed in the Primary Election.
The Cuyahoga Falls City Council
at-large race also was unopposed in the Primary. Democratic
incumbent Kathy Hummel will face Republican Mary Myers
With the March resignation of
Norton Mayor Joseph Kernan, who resigned after being
arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol,
and current Mayor James Price being declared ineligible
to run by the Board of Elections, there was no incumbent
in the Norton mayor’s race in the Primary.
Having no incumbent was one reason
Republican David Koontz said he decided to run for the
city’s top job. Koontz defeated current Norton
City Council Ward 3 representative Bill Mowery in the
Republican Primary by 63 percent (317 votes to 186).
“I’m very excited
and grateful to the voters who voted for me,”
said Koontz, a former Ward 2 Norton City Councilman
and civil engineer. “I feel I have the skills
and knowledge to help the city.”
Koontz will face Democrat and
Norton City Council Ward 1 representative Tom Jones,
who did not have a challenger in the Primary, and Independents
former Norton mayor Amy Addis, who was defeated in 2003,
and Norman Kendall in November.
Mowery could not be reached for
a comment by presstime.
In the Norton City Council at-large
race, in which there are three seats up for election
in November, incumbents Brenda Hlas and Scott Pelot
and former Councilman Ralph Beddow defeated Megan Booth,
Janet Jacobs and Charlotte Whipkey in the Democratic
Primary. Hlas was the top vote-getter with 448 votes,
followed by Pelot with 388, Beddow with 367, Jacobs
with 356, Booth with 264 and Whipkey with 243.
“The people spoke and are
paying attention,” said Hlas, who was appointed
in April to Price’s seat when he became mayor.
With the votes between
Beddow and Jacobs so close, Williams said a recount
only would happen after held ballots (provisional and
some absentee ballots) are counted and if the margin
is within one-half of 1 percent. As it stood at presstime,
Williams said a recount was not needed.
Since there was no Republican
Primary, Hlas, Pelot and Beddow will face Republicans
incumbent Mike Zita, former councilman Alex Stavarz
and William Conte in November.
Other election news
In other election news, Sept.
10 was the Board of Elections’ Independent candidate
For the two Akron Municipal Court
judge seats that are up for election in November, no
challengers filed to run against incumbents Eve Belfance
and John Holcomb. Also, no challenger filed to run against
incumbent Kim Hoover for Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court
In the race for Barberton Municipal
Court judge, six candidates filed to run for the seat
of Judge Michael Weigand, who is not seeking re-election.
The candidates include John Casalinuovo, David Fish,
Diane Guzzo, Todd McKenney, William Sremack and Diana
Stevenson. The court’s jurisdiction includes Copley