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Many changes coming with election results

11/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By By Kathleen Collins, Kathleen Folkerth and Stephanie Kist

Robart loses Cuyahoga Falls mayor’s race; Norton Council incumbents defeated; ADM Board, Akron Zoo, Metro Parks levies pass

SUMMIT/MEDINA COUNTIES — Voters supported renewal property tax levies by wide margins, but some incumbents were not so lucky in the Nov. 5 General Election.

New faces will be on Norton City Council, for which all incumbents running to keep their seats lost. And longtime Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart, a Republican, lost his seat to Ward 6 City Council member Don Walters, a Democrat.

With a ballot full of municipal, township, school board and judicial races and ballot issues, voter turnout was nearly 27 percent in Summit County, according to the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE). In Medina County, voter turnout was nearly 30 percent, according to the Medina County BOE.

The following is based on the unofficial election results from the Summit and Medina counties BOEs. For more election results, visit the Summit County BOE website at www.summitcountyboe.com or the Medina County BOE website at www.boe.co.medina.oh.us. For a complete election listing, visit www.akron.com.

 

SUMMIT COUNTY

Akron City Council seats

The Democratic incumbent candidates for Akron City Council’s at-large seats all will keep their positions.

At-large members Michael Williams, Jeff Fusco and Linda Omobien defeated Republicans Chris Kormushoff, Linda Robinson and Karl Johnson. Williams led the pack with almost 25 percent of the vote, followed by Fusco with 24.5 percent, Omobien with almost 24 percent, Kormushoff with 9.4 percent, Robinson with 9 percent and Johnson with 8 percent.

Williams, of West Akron, is the most senior member of Council and expressed his gratitude on election night.

“I’m humbled and I’m very grateful for the support that they’ve shown me this year and over the last 25 years,” he said. “We’re going to work very, very hard the next two years to address the issues that are important to them.”

Fusco said he felt “very blessed and fortunate to have the support of family and have the fantastic support system in my campaign team.”

Omobien, also of West Akron, said she would like to “thank the voters for their continued support. I’ve certainly enjoyed serving the citizens of Akron, and I look forward to working with everybody on Council.”

Due to a voter-enacted change to the city’s election cycle, the at-large Council members will only serve two years before they are up for re-election again in 2015, rather than the customary four years. During their truncated term, the incumbents said they’ll be working hard on issues including the combined sewer overflow (CSO) project, community policing, job creation and budget cuts.

In Akron’s Ward 8, Democrat incumbent Marilyn Keith easily held off a challenge by Republican Gary Hagen. She garnered 71 percent of the vote.

“What I hope to accomplish within this ward, there was no way it was going to get done in two years, so I’m very pleased to have another two-year term,” she said. “I’m just real proud to be able to represent the ward, and I take it very seriously.”

Ward 1 will have a new representative in Democrat Rich Swirsky, who faced Republican Anthony Karam Nov. 5. Swirsky won with about 75 percent of the vote.

“I’m just grateful for all the people who supported me, and I’m going to really work hard,” he said.

Swirsky said he hopes that in his first term he will see an increase in community policing. He also hopes to promote bike paths and pedestrian-friendly practices and support block clubs and neighborhood watch groups.

“I’m going to represent the diversity of all parts of the ward, and people are going to feel like they’re going to call me and I’ll get on it,” he said.

In Akron’s Ward 4, Democratic incumbent Russel Neal Jr. defeated Independent candidate Valerie Jackson with 87 percent of the vote.

Akron Municipal Court judges

Attorney Julie Schafer was successful in her bid for a seat on the bench, but the race between incumbent Judge Katarina Cook and challenger Jon Oldham was too close to call at presstime.

In the latter race, both candidates got about 50 percent of the vote, with Oldham leading by 16 votes for the term to commence Jan. 1.

“I’m very pleased with my campaign and I’m very honored and humbled and thankful for the members of our community that came out and supported me,” said Oldham, a West Akron resident.

Cook, also of West Akron, said she also appreciated the support she received.

“I want to thank all my volunteers and family for all their help and efforts,” she said.

She noted that with provisional ballots left to count, the election could go either way.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” she said. “We’ll just see what happens.”

Schafer, with about 54 percent of the vote, defeated Gertrude Wilms, chief city prosecutor for the city of Akron, to take the seat currently held by Judge John Holcomb, who chose not to run for re-election. The term begins Jan. 2.

“I am totally, 100 percent shocked and grateful for all the people that came out and voted for me,” Schafer said.

Schafer, a Fairlawn resident, is currently a member of the Copley-Fairlawn City Schools Board of Education. She said she would serve on the board through the end of the year. Her term has another two years, so the board will have to appoint a member to serve out the remainder, she said.

Schafer added that her opponent, Wilms, conducted a good campaign.

Wilms, of West Akron, did not return a call seeking comment by presstime.

The Akron Municipal Court serves Akron, Bath, Fairlawn, Lakemore, Richfield, Springfield and the part of Mogadore in Summit County.

Bath Township

In Bath, incumbents Jim Nelson and Becky Corbett held off a challenge by Darrin Kert for the two seats up for election on the Bath Board of Trustees. Nelson came out on top with 40 percent of the vote. Corbett received 38 percent.

Nelson said that as the trustees go into the new year, during which he will serve as president of the board, he is glad the board will stay intact.

“These people have been just outstanding to work with. They pull their load. … We have teamwork,” he said. “Government happens when everybody pulls together, and we have good government in Bath Township.”

Corbett concurred.

“I think the voters have made the right choice and that the Board of Trustees will continue to make the decisions that they see as best for Bath Township,” she said.

Barberton Municipal Court judge, clerk

Incumbent Judge David Fish will keep his seat on the bench, as he received nearly 70 percent of the vote against challenger Jill Renee Flagg, of Green. This will be Copley resident Fish’s second term.

In the race for clerk of court, incumbent Diana Stevenson won against state Rep. Zack Milkovich (D-District 37) by a wide margin. Stevenson, who was appointed to the seat in January 2012, received 70 percent of the vote.

Stevenson credited her supporters and campaign volunteers for the win.

“I had a lot of great advice and a lot of hard work went into it,” she said.

Her experience in leading the clerk’s office for nearly two years also made a difference, she said.

“I’ve been an attorney for 20 years, and I have an extensive knowledge of the court system, and being in the position for nearly two years now really helped,” she said.

Milkovich, who still has a year left of his term at the statehouse, did not return a call seeking comment by presstime.

The court serves Barberton, Clinton, Copley, Coventry, Green, New Franklin and Norton.

Boston Township

Current Boston Trustees Amy Anderson and Jerry Ritch were unopposed for the two seats up for election.

Copley Township

Incumbents Scott Dressler and Dale Panovich will keep their seats on the Copley Township Board of Trustees as the two garnered the most votes in the township for the two seats up for election. Dressler was the top choice with 40 percent of the vote, while Panovich earned 38 percent. Naureen Dar received about 22 percent of the vote.

Dressler said he was happy to be elected to a fifth term.

“I am very pleased to continue to serve the township,” said Dressler, adding he plans to work with senior care facilities on activities for seniors in the township, as well as on storm water retention issues.

Panovich also said she was grateful to serve another term.

“I feel really good about it and grateful to the residents for their continued support,” she said.

City of Cuyahoga Falls

Residents in Cuyahoga Falls will have a new mayor next year as Democrat Don Walters, the current Ward 6 representative and president of Cuyahoga Falls City Council, defeated longtime incumbent Republican Don Robart by 51 percent of the vote.

Robart, who has been mayor for about 28 years, did not return a call seeking comment.

Walters, who has been a Council member since 2001, also did not return a call seeking comment.

For the two at-large seats up for election, Republican incumbents Jeff Iula and Carol Ann Klinger were unopposed.

In Ward 8, Republican incumbent Terry Mader also was unopposed.

City of Fairlawn

Four Fairlawn City Council seats were up for election, and all of the candidates were unopposed, including Council incumbents Bryan Nace (Ward 3), Susan Sullivan (Ward 5) and Kathleen Baum (Ward 6).

Ward 1 residents will see a new face on Council next year. Rick Herbert was unopposed for the seat that has been held by Councilman James Butler since 1996. The 81-year-old Butler said he did not file for re-election because the time has come for someone younger to serve the ward.

Fairlawn residents also will have a new finance director next year. Running for the seat unopposed was Mark Ludwig. The seat was formerly held by Jerry Apple, who died July 26.

City of Norton

Norton voters soundly defeated all of the incumbents running for ward Council seats up for election.

For the Ward 1 seat, Rick Rodgers defeated Ted Weinsheimer by 64 percent of the vote. Incumbent Todd Bergstrom did not seek re-election.

“I am thankful and humbled by the support of the people in the ward and city,” said Rodgers. “We need to amend the city and heal all the wounds and unite and move forward in a positive a way.”

Rodgers said he believes the issue of sewers possibly being installed in the city is the reason why residents chose new members for Council.

In Ward 2, incumbent Don Nicolard lost to Danny Grether, his neighbor. Grether was the high vote-getter with 61 percent of the vote. Nicolard received 32 percent and Steven Fannin received 7 percent.

“It has been a hard-fought campaign,” Grether said. “Our community has been divided about the sewer issue, and I wanted to bring the community back together.”

Nicolard, who has been on Council for seven years, said he was disappointed with the results.

“I did what I did,” he said. “I feel good about what I did [on Council]. Danny worked very hard, and when you work hard, you win. I’m not sorry for anything I’ve done.”

In Ward 3, incumbent Bill Mowery lost to Dennis Pierson, who received 40 percent of the vote. Joe Kernan, a former Norton mayor and Council member, followed Pierson with 37 percent. Mowery received 23 percent.

“I think with the other people that were elected that there will be positive changes for the people [of Norton],” said Pierson. “I think people have been getting the raw deal and Council doesn’t listen to the people or have respect for the people. I think we can work on the sewer issue and work with the people.”

Mowery, who’s been on Council for almost 20 years, said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the races.

“Good luck to all the new Council candidates,” said Mowery. “The people have spoken. People in Norton are at their wits’ end. People don’t see a whole lot of improvement in their life. They are reaching out for changes.”

In the Ward 4 race, Paul Tousley defeated incumbent John Conklin with 66 percent of the vote.

“I am excited and a little overwhelmed at the same time,” said Tousley. “I think the people have spoken that they want a change.”

Conklin did not return a call seeking comment.

Peninsula Village

Peninsula residents will see three new faces on Council next year as Carol Kramer, Michael Matusz and Pamela Schneider ran unopposed for the four seats up for election. Incumbent Dan Schneider, who ran as a write-in candidate, also retained his seat.

Richfield Township

A familiar face might join the Richfield Township Board of Trustees next year, as former trustee Robert Luther narrowly defeated incumbent Laurie Peters Gilmore by four votes. Luther received 352 votes and Gilmore received 348 votes.

At presstime, Gilmore said she wasn’t sure if a recount would occur by the BOE. She said absentee and provisional ballots the BOE has yet to receive could change the outcome.

“As the results stand now until they’re certified by the Board of Elections, it was a very close race,” said Gilmore. “I enjoyed serving the township for the past 12 years as trustee. I congratulate the winners and look forward to running again in two years for trustee.”

Luther, who was a trustee for 16 years, said he was thrilled to be elected.

“I’m happy to be back in there,” he said. “Everybody seems happy with the way things are now, and I want to focus on the new building [project].”

H. Jeff Shupe was the highest vote-getter with 34 percent of the vote. Shupe said he was pleased with the win and plans to work on his priorities — the budget, zoning and public safety.

“It’s nice to win and lead the pack,” he said. “I went door-to-door and talked to as many people as I could.”

Richfield Village

In the race for the four seats up for election on Richfield Village Council, all of the candidates were unopposed.

The candidates included incumbent Andy Ellis, James Kahoe, former mayor and Council member Michael Lyons and Roger Swan, former village zoning inspector.

Stow Municipal Court judge, clerk

In the Stow Municipal Court judge race, incumbent Kim Hoover, a nonpartisan candidate, will serve another term on the seat he’s held for 18 years. He received 56 percent of the vote and defeated Republican Kandi O’Connor.

In the Stow Municipal Court clerk race, former District 27 state senator Kevin Coughlin defeated incumbent Democrat Diana Colavecchio with almost 44 percent of the vote. Colavecchio received 42 percent, and Frank Larson, mayor of Munroe Falls, received 14 percent.

The Stow Municipal Court district includes the city of Cuyahoga Falls, Village of Peninsula and Boston Township.

Boards of education

  • Akron Public Schools Board of Education: Seven candidates were on the ballot for the four seats up for election. Board members who filed for re-election included Bruce Alexander, Lisa Mansfield and Veronica Sims. Board member Jason Haas did not file for re-election.
    The incumbents were victorious, with Mansfield receiving almost 21 percent of the vote, Alexander 19 percent and Sims almost 16 percent. The new member on the board will be Dave Lombardi, who received about 14 percent. The remaining candidates were: Janice Davis, with 12 percent; Debbie Walsh, with almost 10 percent; and Scott Stetson, with about 9 percent of the vote.
  • Copley-Fairlawn City Schools Board of Education: Incumbents Sue Emich, Jessica Vargo and Richard Levin defeated challenger Romi Brozeit for the three seats up for election. Emich received about 30 percent of the vote. Vargo was next with 29 percent, followed by Levin with 23 percent and Brozeit with 18 percent.
  • Norton City Schools Board of Education: Incumbent Cindy Webel faced challengers Matt Collier, Floyd Easterling Jr., Linda Kloetzer, Rob Knight and Jason Sams for the three seats up for election.
    Board members Diane Farmer and Jim Bennett did not file for re-election.
    Webel retained her seat and took the highest percentage of the vote, 21 percent. She will be joined on the board by Knight, who received about 20 percent, and Sams, who earned 19 percent. Kloetzer received about 15 percent, followed by Easterling with 13 percent and Collier, with 12 percent.
  • Summit County Educational Service Center Board: Incumbents Alyce Simmons Altwies, Susan Lobalzo and Dow Wolfe III faced challengers Ashley Carr, Timothy Gallagher and Patricia Weber for the three seats up for election.
    None of the incumbents were able to retain their seats.
    Gallagher was the top vote-getter with 25 percent of the vote, followed by Weber, with about 20.5 percent, and Carr, with 20 percent. Lobalzo received 15 percent, Altwies 10.5 percent and Wolfe 9 percent.
  • Woodridge Local Schools Board of Education: For the three seats up for election, incumbents Jan Flasco, Tammy Heffernan and Jeff McHugh faced challengers Marlene Martin, Linda Ocepek, Dale Patterson, John Schneider and Patrick Shade.
    Ocepek made her way onto the board, and McHugh lost his seat. The top vote-getter was Flasco, with 16 percent, followed by Heffernan, with 15 percent. Ocepek received 14 percent. McHugh was fourth, with 13 percent, followed by Patterson, with about 12 percent; Martin, with 11 percent; Schneider, with 9.8 percent; and Shade, with 9.7 percent.

ISSUES

Akron charter amendment to donate steam plant

Voters in Akron overwhelmingly decided to allow the city to donate its Recycled Energy System to Akron Children’s Hospital. Issue No. 4, a proposed amendment to the city charter, passed with 84 percent of voters in favor of the donation.

Children’s will take over the city’s troubled steam plant — which supplies steam heat and chilled-water cooling services to more than 50 downtown customers, including Akron General Medical Center and city and county offices — as an integral piece of a 10-year capital campaign. Acquiring the steam plant saves the hospital several million dollars and the need to construct its own additional heating and cooling system.

Hospital President and CEO Bill Considine said the “heavy lifting” now begins, as the hospital will be tasked with working with other users to identify an owner/operator for the RES that will revamp the system to serve its customers with predictability and dependability.

On election night, Considine expressed his excitement and pride to be a part of the Akron community, as levies for the Akron Zoo; Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; and Metro Parks, Serving Summit County all were renewed by voters.

“That just reaffirms to me the nature of our community,” he said. “It’s a caring community. We believe in doing the right thing. We believe in investing in our people.”

City spokeswoman Stephanie York said, “We’re very happy that the voters understood that this is good for Akron and good for Children’s Hospital, and thank you.”

Akron Zoo levy

County voters approved Issue No. 3, the Akron Zoo’s renewal levy, with nearly 73 percent of the vote. The 0.8-mill levy collects $8 million a year to fund the zoo’s operations. It costs $23 annually for each $100,000 in property value, according to zoo officials.

“Our reaction was, wow,” said Akron Zoo President and CEO Patricia Simmons. “We feel so honored and so blessed by this community that they support us in such a great way.”

The levy provides funding for about half of the zoo’s annual operating budget, Simmons said.

Boston Joint Economic Development District

Boston Township voters overwhelmingly approved a question asking if the Boston Township Board of Trustees should approve a contract with Peninsula Village for the creation of a joint economic development district.

Issue No. 37 received more than 81 percent of votes in its favor. Boston now will be able to receive income tax revenue from businesses located within the district.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County levy

Three out of four voters supported Issue No. 2, a renewal levy for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County. The 1.46-mill levy passed with 75 percent of voters in favor of it. The levy will continue to collect $15.8 million annually and cost property owners about $45 per $100,000 of valuation a year.

District spokesman Nate Eppink said officials were surprised to see how successful the levy was.

“We could have never imagined that,” he said.

“We have the ability to impact so many lives,” he added. “And it was not a new tax, just a renewal; we weren’t asking for any more money, just what we need to maintain the Metro Parks.”

Passage of the renewal means the district can move forward on projects such as the new Nature Center at Liberty Park, extending the Freedom Trail and the creation of mountain bike trails, Eppink said.

Norton City Schools bond issue

After three attempts to pass a bond issue to fund the construction of new school facilities failed in Norton, voters OK’d Issue No. 42 by 62 percent.

“We’re extremely excited about that,” said Superintendent David Dunn on election night. “I would like to thank the Norton community, the levy committee and chairs Pat Santelli and Denny Oswald and everyone that came out to support us.”

The 3.89-mill bond issue will allow the Norton City Schools District to build a new high school and move Grill and Cornerstone elementary schools. The owner of property valued at $100,000 will pay about $136 a year for the project over 36 years, according to Dunn.

Dunn said he thinks voters were supportive this time because the district purchased land in the center of the city for construction of the new high school.

“Purchasing that land and guaranteeing we would stay in the heart of Norton was huge,” Dunn said.

The total cost for the project is about $32 million, with the bond issue raising $15.8 million and the state contributing $16.3 million.

Dunn said district officials will move quickly to begin following the Ohio Schools Construction Commission process to get the project off the ground. He expects the Class of 2017 to graduate from the new building.

Peninsula Village income tax

A proposed 1 percent income tax increase for Peninsula Village was approved in its fourth appearance on the ballot.

Issue No. 29 was approved by 19 votes, with 54 percent of the vote.

The village’s income tax withholding will double, from 1 percent to 2 percent. The increase will bring in an additional $180,000 per year, according to village officials.

Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board levy

Voters approved Issue No. 1, a renewal levy for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board, with 68 percent in favor. The win means the 2.95-mill levy will continue to collect $32.6 million a year and cost the owner of $100,000 in property value $90 a year, ADM officials said.

Executive Director Jerry Craig said he and ADM Board officials were thrilled to see the levy’s success.

“I didn’t really know what to expect, but it really underscores the support the community has for a strong system of support for people,” Craig said. “We’ve worked hard with our provider agencies, and this has really been a team effort.”

The ADM Board is responsible for seeing that services are available locally for adults and youths with mental illness and/or alcohol and drug addictions. Craig said the board plans to turn its efforts toward Medicaid expansion in Ohio.

“I know we’re going to continue to work hard to make sure we continue to meet the expectations of the community as far as providing a strong system of support services,” Craig said.

 

MEDINA COUNTY

Granger

For the two seats up for election on the Granger Board of Trustees, incumbents Teri Berry and Richard Pace were unopposed.

Incumbent Donald Baker, who was appointed fiscal officer this past summer, won with 70 percent of the vote against Brooks Rorapaugh.

“I am very happy,” said Baker. “I have a lot of people to thank. I appreciate the trustees appointing and supporting me. I express a lot of gratitude to my wife and son and his friends for help with my campaign. I would like to thank the voters of Granger for supporting me.”

Rorapaugh said he was disappointed in the outcome and thanked his family, campaign treasurer and supporters.

“Congratulations is extended to Mr. Baker,” Rorapaugh said. “A contested election for this office has not been held for at least 32 years, an entire generation, and to the extent that I helped spur debate and interest in our local government, then partial victory can be declared.”

Sharon

Sharon Trustees Raymond Lurtz and Kimberly Bolas Miller were unopposed.

Highland Local Schools Board of Education

For the three seats up for election on the Highland Local Schools Board of Education, incumbents Robert Kelly (1,432 votes) and Diane Thomas (1,282 votes) were the top vote-getters, along with newcomer Christopher Wolny (1,274 votes). Incumbent Dan Petek came in fourth with 1,197 votes and lost his seat. The vote totals include results from Granger, Hinckley and Sharon, as well as a small portion of Summit County.

Medina County Educational Service Center Board

For the three seats up on the Medina County Educational Service Center Board, incumbents Amanda Armstrong, Janice Good and Daniel Shumaker were unopposed.

Medina City School District levy

The five-year, 5.9-mill levy for the Medina City School District, Issue No. 8, passed with 58 percent of the vote. A portion of voters who live in Granger precinct C and Sharon precinct B voted on the levy, which will raise about $6.6 million a year, according to district officials.

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