Democrats sweep local races
County incumbents win seats; Coventry fire, Coventry school, Springfield police levies pass
SUMMIT COUNTY — Democrats came out on top locally and nationally in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Democratic President Barack Obama became the first black president four years ago and won the chance to serve a second term against Republican Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, by 50 percent of the vote. In Ohio, Obama was the top vote-getter with 50 percent of the vote.
In Summit County, Democrats swept the top races of executive, prosecutor, clerk of courts, fiscal officer, engineer, sheriff and all but one of the County Council seats up for election.
The following is based on the unofficial election results from the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE) and the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. For more election results, visit the Summit County BOE website at www.summitcountyboe.com. For complete state results, visit www.sos.state.oh.us.
Coventry voters overwhelmingly approved Issue No. 56, a five-year, 2.25-mill fire/emergency medical services (EMS) renewal levy for the Coventry Fire Department, with 72 percent of the vote.
The levy provides about 25 percent of the operating funds for the department, according to Fiscal Officer Joni Murgatroyd. The township’s primary fire/EMS levy, a 4.65-mill levy — last approved by residents as a renewal in 2009 — provides about 53 percent of operating revenues, Murgatroyd said.
The existing 2.25-mill levy, which is in its last collection year, financially supports the fire department’s salaries, benefits, vehicle and equipment repair, supplies and gear, training and building maintenance, she said.
According to Murgatroyd, the levy does not represent a new tax, and the owner of a $100,000 home will continue to pay $68.91 annually.
Coventry trustees were grateful for voter support of the issue.
“I appreciate that 72 percent of the residents supported the issue,” said Coventry Trustee Tom Seese. “Although it is not enough, it will help us temporarily. It will stabilize our budget, but more revenue will be needed in about two years.”
Seese said if cuts to local revenue from the state and federal governments continue, “that money would have to replaced somehow.”
“We will have to ask residents for more to generate the additional revenue needed just to keep the services that we have,” he said.
Coventry Local Schools
Voters in the Coventry Local School District saw the need to provide continued funding and supported Issue No. 70, a 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy, by 61 percent of the vote.
“We are very pleased that the community supported us and could not think of a reason why people would not have voted for a renewal,” said Superintendent Russell Chaboudy. “We think the community sees what we are trying to do, so we are excited about that.”
Academically, the district is doing a “good job” and various cuts were made to keep the district operational to this point, he added.
Coventry receives about $2.9 million each year through the levy, first renewed by voters in 2008.
“The passage of this levy was critical in maintaining the current programs Coventry Local has in place,” said Treasurer Aaron Butts.
According to district officials, the levy will be used to maintain the district’s current programs, including art, music, foreign language, special services and transportation.
The approved levy will continue to cost the owners of a $100,000 home about $25 per month and $19 if the owner is older than 65 years old, according to district officials.
“The emergency levy renewal was a necessity,” Butts said. “It is critical to our operation.”
Also this week, the Coventry School Board decided to move forward on placing a combined 5.99-mill levy and bond issue back on the ballot to fund the construction of a new Coventry High School and improvements to other school buildings.
The issue first failed in August, but Butts said February was the time to ask voters again for their support. The issue will appear on the Feb. 5 Special Election ballot. [See related story on Page 1.]
The state is offering the district $11 million toward a construction and renovation project until this spring.
“Passage of the emergency renewal levy was the first piece of the puzzle. The second piece is the passage of a bond and permanent improvement issue in February,” Chaboudy explained. “Successfully passing these two issues puts our district in good financial shape for the next several years, allows us to upgrade our facility needs, save money on energy, consolidate some of our operations, save money on transportation costs and duress spending issues and, most importantly, provides a safe learning environment for all of our students and staff.”
The superintendent, treasurer and board thanked the district voters for their continued support.
“We are excited that the emergency renewal went through positively to continue the success of educating the students,” Butts said. “It really was one of the pieces of the puzzle to get us in fiscal solvency for the next five year.”
City of Green
Voters in Green were heard Nov. 6, as they voted to keep all gambling facilities out of the city and the term limits the same for the mayor’s seat.
“We are not surprised the voting went the way it did,” said Valerie Wolford, city communications director. “The mayoral term limits and the gambling charter amendments had the most discussion around them.”
Among seven proposed charter amendments on the ballot, voters supported Issue No. 18, which was placed on the ballot through a petition initiative in response to a possible “racino” being constructed in Green.
The issue, which passed with 59 percent, prohibited the operation of casino gaming, horse racing, scheme of chance, game of chance and gambling devices in the city, except for nonprofit charitable purposes.
Resident Des Wertheimer, who heads up a group of residents against a racino and other gambling facilities in Green, was active in collecting the signatures for the charter amendment.
He said after rumors circulated in the spring that a racino could be constructed by Rock Ohio Caesars near the Akron-Canton Airport, a number of residents wanted to make sure all gambling facilities stayed out of the city.
“The community had a chance to have its say,” he said. “If we did not have the charter amendment, the residents would not have had any input on a potential racino coming to town.”
Wertheimer explained the residents appreciated having the chance to vote on the charter change.
“No one had a positive thing to say about a racino or parlor games,” he said.
According to Wertheimer, Green is the first community to stand up against the racino industry, and a lot of other communities in Ohio are paying attention to the city’s decision to keep that type of business out of town.
“We spoke loudly,” he said.
Council President Joel Reed (at large) said he was pleased with the results.
“I was not surprised at all by the outcome of the proposed charter amendments and had a feel from the start that the community was not behind the idea of a racino,” he said.
Wolford said she knew a number of residents adamantly were against gambling establishments.
Residents additionally voted against Issue No. 12, which would have increased mayoral term limits from two to three consecutive four-year terms. The issue was defeated with 55 percent of the vote.
The Charter Review Commission, a five-member board appointed by Mayor Dick Norton and accepted by Council, recommended the increase in terms, along with five additional revisions to the charter. The charter is reviewed by a commission every seven years, in accordance with the charter.
Chairperson Susan Allen explained, after reviewing cities with the same form of government as Green, it seemed fitting for the mayor’s term limits to be increased.
According to Wolford, the commission debated the issue of term limits for quite a while, and it took a great deal of time to come up with the language for the proposed charter change.
Several members of Council, however, vocally opposed changing the mayor’s term limits without changing the term limits for Council as well.
Council members are permitted by the charter to serve two four-year consecutive terms.
Reed said the outcome of Issue No. 12 was in line with what his friends and neighbors were telling him.
“Voters once again spoke on the issue of term limits,” he said.
Norton, who is in the first year of his second term, had said it would be beneficial for Green voters to give a high-performing mayor the opportunity to run for a third term.
Voters also approved the following charter change proposals by the commission on the ballot:
√ Issue No. 13, which was approved by 80 percent, requires the mayor to treat the position as a full-time job. The position currently pays about $85,000 a year, according to city officials;
√ Issue No. 14, which was approved by 76 percent, creates new time limits for Council to fill a Council vacancy and only allows a new Council member to be appointed between 30 and 45 days after a vacancy occurs;
√ Issue No. 15, which changes how civil service employees obtain positions and is no longer based on test scores alone, passed by 50.2 percent;
√ Issue No. 16, which passed by 55 percent, allows 15 percent of the 7 percent of income tax revenues allocated to the city parks and recreation program to be used for special events and programming; and
√ Issue No. 17, which was approved by 82 percent, allows Council to correct typographical errors in the charter and make corrections so it is in compliance and consistent with state law.
Norton City Schools
Voters living in the Norton City Schools District approved Issue No. 66, a 1.9-mill tax levy for operating expenses. The district includes a small number of New Franklin residents. Results show that 53 percent of voters were in favor of the issue, which will cost the owner of $100,000 in property $58 a year, to help the district maintain its current slate of programs.
Superintendent David Dunn said he thinks the district was able to show voters that it has been fiscally responsible and that made the difference.
“We’ve done a good job of being responsible financially, and we’ve been able to demonstrate that to our community in what we’ve done in reducing costs,” Dunn said. “We have a great staff working hard, and our students continue to score well on state tests.”
Dunn said in years past, Norton voters have said that they would prefer the district come to them with levies for smaller amounts.
“They told us four years ago to do some things with health care and tighten our belt and come back, and that’s what we did,” he said.
Voters in Springfield approved the renewal of a 3-mill police levy with 65 percent of the vote.
The five-year levy, Issue No. 60, is due to expire Dec. 31. The levy is expected to generate $465,467 annually, which represents about one-quarter of the police department’s operating budget, and will not increase property taxes, according to Police Chief John Smith.
Smith said while the department does need more money, the decision was made to leave the levy as a renewal rather than a replacement, which would collect more, due to the economy.
Smith said he and the department are grateful the levy passed.
“We understand times are difficult for everyone, and even though this is not an increase, we are grateful for the township’s support,” said Smith. “I hope that support means they think we are doing a good job.”
Summit County races
For Summit County executive, incumbent Democrat Russ Pry won re-election to the seat he’s held since 2007. Pry earned 63 percent of the vote to defeat Republican Frank Larson, the mayor of Munroe Falls.
Pry said he has worked to bring innovative programs to the county and voters noted that.
“The people of Summit County know we have worked very hard to make changes in the county, and they appreciate the fact we have worked with all of our mayors and all of our township trustees and not let politics get in the way of coming up with creative solutions,” he said.
He added his efforts to see the completion of a new facility for the Veterans Service Commission and to streamline government through shared services also was appreciated.
“I wouldn’t stay in this job if I didn’t think I could make a difference for the people that live in this county,” Pry said.
Larson did not wish to comment on election night.
Incumbent Democrat Sherri Bevan Walsh defeated Republican attorney Candace Kim Knox with 67 percent of the vote to claim her fourth term as Summit County prosecutor. Walsh was not available for comment at presstime.
In the race for Summit County sheriff, Democrat Steve Barry, a retired captain in the Sheriff’s Office, defeated Republican Randy Rivers for the position being vacated by retiring Sheriff Drew Alexander. Barry garnered 64 percent of the vote. He said he was humbled by the margin of victory and elated to be elected.
“This has been my professional life my whole adult life,” he said. “I’m honored to be chosen to be the next sheriff of Summit County.”
He said he will look to the challenge of working with a reduced budget and to addressing the issue brought to light by Alexander of inmates who, due to their mental conditions, shouldn’t be in the Summit County Jail.
He was thankful to the voters for their support.
“I’ll make every effort to never let them down,” he said.
Rivers couldn’t be reached for comment on election night.
In the race for Summit County fiscal officer, incumbent Democrat Kristen Scalise retained the seat to which she had been appointed in May 2011 upon the retirement of John Donofrio.
“I am just so excited and honored that the citizens of Summit County have elected me as their Summit County fiscal officer so that I can continue to serve them for the next four years,” she said.
Scalise defeated Republican Ron Antal with 65 percent of the vote.
“It’s a great experience running countywide,” Antal said. “I’m sure this isn’t the end of my political career.”
While extending his congratulations to Scalise and wishing her luck, Antal said he might cast his sights further and run for a larger seat in the future.
Scalise said she is looking forward to implementing new programs to help citizens and taxpayers meet their obligations.
Incumbent Alan Brubaker, a Democrat, retained the position of Summit County engineer with 61 percent of the vote.
“I would just like to thank the citizens of Summit County for their confidence in my ability to keep our roads and bridges safe,” he said.
Brubaker’s challenger, Republican Bruce Robinson, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
In the clerk of courts race, incumbent Democrat Dan Horrigan defeated Republican Kandi O’Connor with 61 percent of the vote.
Summit County Council races
All eight County Council district seats were up for election, as well as one at-large seat, with all incumbents winning.
For the at-large seat, incumbent Democrat Sandra Kurt handily defeated Republican Jane Davis with 60 percent of the vote.
In District 7, incumbent Democrat Tim Crawford received 64 percent of votes to defeat Republican Larry Ashbaugh. This was Crawford’s sixth win for the seat he has held for 20 years.
“I’d like to thank everyone that supported me,” Crawford said. “I’m still enthusiastic about serving in public office and glad I’m being returned for four more years.”
In District 8, incumbent Democrat Paula Prentice retained her seat with 55 percent of the vote. Tom Wolfe, who has been a member of Lakemore Village Council since 2010, was her Republican challenger.
“I really appreciate the people that voted for me, who have an understanding of what goes on with County Council and support the things I do,” Prentice said.
She added she is looking forward to her third term in office.
“You get going and get programs started and want to follow through,” she said.
She added she prides herself on working with all constituents, no matter what political party they support.
“Even though it was a tough race, I’ve always worked with both sides and will continue to do that because that’s what’s important to me,” Prentice said.
Wolfe said he was disappointed but happy to see the amount of support he received.
“I knew it would be an uphill battle, but a lot of Democrats voted for me,” he said. “I feel that people realized I’m someone that can work with both parties and I got a lot of support, and for that I’m really grateful.”
Summit County Children Services Board levy
Summit County voters supported Summit County Children Services (SCCS) as it sought a renewal of its 2.25-mill levy, which provides 60 percent of the agency’s operating funds. On Election Day, 68 percent of voters were in favor of Issue No. 73. The six-year renewal will fund the protection and placement of abused and neglected children in Summit County.
SCCS Executive Director John Saros said he thinks the issue passed easily because local residents are concerned about children in the community. He also thinks voters responded to efforts made by the agency to trim expenses.
“That combination — the history, the new programs we’ve been offering, the reduction of expenses and the sense of partnership, with agencies and families and with taxpayers — are all something that we have been working towards to get to this point,” Saros said.
The 2.25-mill levy costs the owner of $100,000 in property about $69 a year, Saros said. The current levy expires in 2013, and the renewal levy would be in effect from 2014 to 2019.
In the race for the 9th District Court of Appeals judge seat, incumbent Democrat Clair Dickinson lost a close race to Republican challenger Jennifer Hensal by 51 percent of the vote. He’s held the seat since 2007.
Four Summit County Common Pleas judgeships also were up for election.
Incumbent Republican Common Pleas Court Judge Tammy O’Brien defeated Democrat Kathryn Michael, an Akron Municipal Court judge, by 55 percent for the unexpired term ending Jan. 1, 2015. Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed O’Brien to the seat in April 2011 after it was vacated by Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh, who resigned due to health reasons and later died after a battle with colon cancer.
O’Brien said she loves serving on the court and is happy she will get to continue to serve.
“I’m very moved by the turnout and the way it’s turned out,” she said. “I was humbled by the appointment. It’s a job I love and I am very honored to be serving.”
Michael, who has been a judge in Akron for seven years, said she plans to “continue to do the good work I do as an Akron Municipal Court judge.”
Incumbent Democrat Paul Gallagher defeated Republican David Lombardi with 62 percent of the vote for the seat Gallagher has held since 2007.
Incumbent Democrat Thomas Teodosio defeated Republican Eddie Sipplen with 77 percent of the vote. Teodosio has been on the bench since 2007.
“I am extremely pleased with the turnout tonight and the support I received form the community,” said Teodosio. “It is a honor and blessing to wear the robe. It’s a wonderful position. I look forward to administering justice fairly and impartially.”
Democrat John Fickes was defeated by incumbent Republican Amy Corrigall Jones, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year when Judge Patricia Cosgrove retired, by 58 percent. Attempts at contacting Jones for comment were unsuccessful election night.
Two Summit County Common Pleas Court judges vied for the Summit County Probate Court judgeship for the unexpired term ending Feb. 8, 2015.
Democrat Elinore Marsh Stormer garnered 53 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Alison McCarty.
“I’m delighted that I won,” Stormer said. “I think we ran a very positive, issues-oriented campaign, and that seemed to resonate with the voters.”
Stormer said she is looking forward to building upon the community outreach initiatives started by current Probate Court Judge Todd McKenney — who was appointed upon the retirement of Bill Spicer — to bring the court into the community.
She said she will meet with McKenney in the near future and looks toward a smooth transition.
McCarty said she looks forward to continuing to serve on the Common Pleas bench.
“I certainly accept the choice of the voters, and I’m so grateful to all those who supported me,” she said.
Local state races
Voters saw some changes in local Ohio House districts due to redistricting on the ballot.
In the District 35 state representative race, current District 45 state Rep. Zack Milkovich, a Democrat, defeated Republican Kevin Mitchell by 71 percent for a chance to serve a second two-year term.
“I am humbled and appreciative to the folks in this district,” said Milkovich. “I will do my best to listen to their concerns and represent them in Columbus. I feel their voices need to be heard there, and I hope to work in a bipartisan manner and repay them for the faith they have shown in me.
“We are regular working folks in this district, and we need jobs here,” he added. “It was my No. 1 priority in my first term and remains my No. 1 priority. Whatever we can do to create the right element, where we can gets these hard-working people back to work, I will do.”
Mitchell did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.
In the District 36 state representative race, incumbent Republican Anthony DeVitis, of Green, defeated challenger Democrat Paul Colavecchio, of Cuyahoga Falls.
DeVitis, who was appointed to the District 43 seat about a year ago, won with 53 percent of the vote.
“It’s always a humbling experience when the votes come in,” said DeVitis. “I am looking forward to representing the new 36th House district, and it will be an honor to serve my new constituents. I could not have done it without the help of family and friends and staff.”
Colavecchio said he was disappointed by the loss.
“I think I ran it as good as I could do,” he said. “I have given it my all and ran a positive campaign.”
Current District 41 state Rep. Marilyn Slaby, a Republican, defeated Democrat Michael Kaplan with 55 percent of the vote for the District 38 seat.
Slaby said she was excited for the win and looks forward to the challenges that will come over the next few years.
“I would like to thank all who voted for me,” she said. “I look forward to continue working on jobs and education. Retraining for technology is something that I have been working on. This is something that I started a bill on and something I am into.”
An attempt at contacting Kaplan was unsuccessful by presstime.
In the District 28 state senate race, Democratic incumbent Tom Sawyer handily defeated Republican Robert Gregory Roush with 72 percent of the vote. Sawyer has served in politics for more than 35 years.
In the State Board of Education District 5 race, incumbent Bryan Williams, current District 7 state board representative, was the top voter-getter with 43 percent of the vote. He was followed by Marianne Gasiecki with 35 percent and Rich Javorek with 23 percent. Due to redistricting, parts of District 7 are now in District 5.
In the District 7 state Board of Education race, Sarah Fowler was the top vote-getter with 60 percent of the vote. She was followed by James Collum with 26 percent and John Sans with 14 percent.
Three Ohio Supreme Court judge seats were up for election. Incumbent Republican Terrence O’Donnell was the only incumbent justice to retain his seat, as he defeated Democrat Mike Skindell by 69 percent.
Incumbent Democrat Yvette McGee Brown was defeated by Republican Sharon Kennedy by 57 percent.
Incumbent Republican Robert Cupp was defeated by Democrat William O’Neill by 52 percent.
The two state issues that were on the ballot were defeated by voters. State Issue No. 1, the constitutional convention issue, lost by 68 percent.
State Issue No. 2, the redistricting proposal, was defeated by 63 percent.
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown will keep his U.S. Senate seat, as he defeated Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel by 50 percent. Mandel received 45 percent and Independent Scott Rupert received 5 percent of the vote.
Due to congressional redistricting, which was required after the last Census, Ohio lost two congressional seats, dropping from 18 to 16, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s Office. To view a map of the new boundaries, visit www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/reshape/Congressional/Enact edMap.aspx.
In the newly created District 13, Democrat U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, whose District 17 was consolidated into District 13 due to redistricting, defeated Republican Dr. Marisha Agana with 72 percent of the vote.
In the District 16 heavily contested race where the new district includes parts of the former District 13, incumbent Republican Jim Renacci defeated Democrat U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, who currently represents District 13 but would have represented District 16 because of the redistricting, with 52 percent of the vote.
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