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Voters cast ballots in wide range of races

11/7/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Collins, Kathleen Folkerth, Ariel Hakim, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay

Bollas wins New Franklin mayor’s race; new faces coming to Green Council

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

There will be new faces on the Boards of Education for Green and Coventry local schools districts, as Green board member Steven Foster and Coventry board member Tom Thompson lost their seats.

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).

The following is based on the unofficial election results from the Summit County BOE. For more election results, visit the Summit County BOE website at www.summitcountyboe.com. For a complete election listing, visit www.akron.com.


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 votes, 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, an Akron resident.

Cook, also of 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.

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

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

The Akron Municipal Court serves the cities of Akron and Fairlawn; the Villages of Lakemore and Richfield; the townships of Bath, Richfield and Springfield; and the part of Mogadore that is in Summit County.


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.

The race was not without controversy, as the Ohio Elections Commission found Milkovich’s campaign to be in violation of state election laws regarding his use of the phrase “Zack Milkovich Clerk of Courts” on campaign materials when he did not hold the position.

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 the cities of Barberton, Green, New Franklin and Norton; the Village of Clinton; and the townships of Copley and Coventry.


Coventry Township

In the race for Coventry Township Board of Trustees, incumbent Tom Seese will retain the seat he’s held since 2010. Seese, who also served on the board from 1978 to 1986, was the top vote-getter with 40 percent of the vote.

He said he appreciates the opportunity to serve another term.

“I just want to keep close to the people, keep them informed and respond to the issues they bring to me,” he said.

Edward Diebold was the next highest vote-getter with 36 percent of the vote and will join him on the board. Current trustee Gary Zoldesy did not run for re-election. Rod Willis followed Diebold with 24 percent.

Diebold said he worked hard to win the seat and on election night was thinking of his grandfather, Jack Unger, who was a trustee in Franklin Township for 16 years. Once in office, he wants to look over the township’s financials “and see where we’re at,” and ensure the township is equipped for tough economic times that still may be ahead, he said.


City of Green

Green residents will see some new and familiar faces on Council next year.

In Ward 1, candidate James Ahlstrom was unopposed, as current Councilman Jim Colopy could not run for re-election due to term limits.

In Ward 4, incumbent John Summerville also was unopposed.

In the Ward 2 race, newcomer Bob Young won the seat with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Greg Padrutt with 32 percent and Rick Jacobson with 29 percent. Incumbent Dave France also was term-limited.

“I have never been involved in anything like this before, but I care about my community,” Young said. “This shows if you work hard and have ambition, you can do anything. My family, including my kids, helped me knock on doors during my campaign. I spent my own money and did the best job I could, and I am happy I won.”

Young said he wants to do the best he can for his constituents.

“I want to be a good representative for my ward, for the residents and the businesses,” he said. “This city is a great place to live, and I want to help continue that.”

In Ward 3, incumbent Ken Knodel defeated Matt Williams with 68 percent of the vote. Knodel, who was appointed to the seat in December 2011, thanked his supporters who have allowed him to continue his work on Council for another four years.

“I will work on their behalf with the administration and Council to finish some of the projects we have started,” he said. “This includes the road program, where we plan to refurbish streets, and planning for the new Central Park.”


Lakemore Village

For the four seats up for election on Lakemore Village Council, incumbents Laura Lewis Cochran, a Democrat, and Tom Wolfe, a Republican, retained their seats. Cochran, who was appointed to Council in December 2012, was the second highest vote-getter, with about 22 percent of the vote. Wolfe came in fourth, with about 20 percent. Council members Tammie Coontz and Troy Bradfield did not seek re-election.

Cochran said she feels confident this administration is going to continue to do a great job of moving Lakemore forward. The four who took seats in this election all have the same primary goal — to get the village out of fiscal emergency as soon as possible, she said.

“I can’t say how happy I am that everyone on my team won,” she said.

Wolfe, who will begin his second term next year, said he believes voters saw the progress current Council members have been making. The village is already six months ahead of schedule on its way out of fiscal emergency, and he expects that progress to continue, he added.

Winning the election is “validation of the things we’ve been doing,” he said.

Democrat Richard Cole won the most votes in the race, earning his first seat on Council, with 23 percent of the vote. Democrat Josh Timko came in third, with 21 percent of vote. Both candidates did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.

The four defeated Democrat Tracy Douglas, who received 13 percent of vote.


City of New Franklin

New Franklin Mayor Al Bollas handily defeated Terry Harget, current Ward 2 Councilman, and Bob Lockhart with 45 percent of the vote for the seat he has held since 2005. Harget received 30 percent and Lockhart received 25 percent.

“I am doing the best I can and am happy to do it for another four years,” said Bollas. “I really appreciate all those who voted for me, and I will try harder to please those who did not.”

Bollas said that despite the state of the economy, he will continue to keep working on making improvements a little at a time. He also said he plans to continue to focus on storm water management issues.

Harget said he wanted to thank voters for their support and his family, who helped to deliver fliers and place election signs throughout the city.

“I enjoyed knocking on doors when I solicited the petitions and talked to many of our citizens,” he said. “I will run again for the Council seat in two years and I will run for mayor in four years. Please come to our meetings on the first and third Wednesdays [of] each month. This is sometimes the only way we know what your questions and concerns are, so stop in and speak with your Council member.”

Lockhart did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.

Three at-large seats on New Franklin City Council also were up for election, with incumbents Judy Jones and Harry Gehm retaining their seats with 28 percent and 23 percent of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Joseph Parsons did not file to run.

Jones said she was “pleased” with the results and considers it “an honor” to serve on Council.

“I will continue to try to help improve our economy,” she said. “We need more new businesses, and we need water and sewer in certain areas. We need to plan for the future.”

Gehm said he would like to thank everyone for their support.

“I look forward to four more years of serving the people of New Franklin,” he said. “I look forward to working with everyone to keep our city strong and prosperous. It is a privilege to be able to serve you again.”

The top vote-getter was Andrea Norris, former Barberton Municipal Court clerk and a former at-large representative on Summit County Council. She received about 31 percent of the vote.

“I am grateful to the New Franklin voters for their support and their confidence in me to serve them on New Franklin Council,” said Norris. “I am looking forward to working with the current Council members and the mayor to continue to make New Franklin one of the best communities in Summit County.”

Robin Aikey placed fourth with 18 percent of the vote. Aikey extended congratulations to Norris, Jones and Gehm.

“I wish each of them the best during their term in office,” she said.


Springfield Township

In the race for the two seats on the Springfield Township Board of Trustees, Joe DiLauro and incumbent Deborah Davis were elected. Longtime Trustee Robert Bruce Killian did not seek re-election.

DiLauro was the top vote-getter, with almost 44 percent of the vote, with Davis following with 34 percent. Jess Danner Jr. received 22 percent.

DiLauro said he was humbled by the voters’ response.

“I’m just proud right now to be a resident of Springfield and represent the people of the township,” he said.

He added he’d like to continue the progress he’s been seeing in the township lately, citing great safety forces and nice roads.

“I would like to see more development of the parks,” and to continue updating the township’s equipment, he added.

Davis said she always spends election night after the polls close collecting all of her campaign signs and had just finished the job shortly after the unofficial results of votes from all Springfield’s 10 precincts were posted around 11 p.m.

“Needless to say I’m very happy [to be elected for another term],” she said. “There are projects we’ve been working on that I would like to see through.”


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 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.
  • Coventry Local Schools Board of Education: Incumbents David Andrews, Tom Thompson and Robert Wohlgamuth faced challengers Chris Davis, Raymond Rose Sr. and Charles Zittle for the three seats up for election.
    Thompson, who has served on the board since 2004, lost his bid for re-election with the support of around 17 percent of voters.
    “Two great guys got back in,” he said, adding his well wishes to all three winners. “I’ll be going back to normal life.”
    Andrews was the top vote-getter, with around 21 percent of the vote. Wohlgamuth and newcomer Chris Davis, a plant biologist with Cuyahoga Valley National Park, who took the two other open seats, were nearly tied in the amount of votes they received, with 886 and 884, respectively, each winning around 18 percent.
    “I’m very happy to return to the board for another term,” Andrews said. “I’m looking forward to completing renovation projects and completing construction of the high school and seeing that project through.”
    Davis said he is looking forward to serving on the board. With his background, he brings a special interest in promoting science and technology to Coventry students, specifically in terms of outdoor education and connecting students with their local environments, he said.
    Also, he would love to work with any teachers, administrators or residents interested in pursuing outside grant funding for the district projects, he added.
    Wohlgamuth did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.
    Zittle came in fifth, with 15 percent of the vote, followed by Rose, with 11 percent.
  • Green Local Schools Board of Education: For the three seats up for election, incumbents Bob Campbell and Steven Foster faced challengers Sally Fanelly, Rick Miller and Katie Stoynoff. Board member Lynn Wiggins did not seek re-election.
    The race was close, with Campbell being the top vote-getter with 21 percent of the vote. Foster, however, was defeated with a fourth-place finish with a little more than 19 percent.
    “I am humbled and honored to have served our community as a member of the Green Local Schools Board of Education,” said Foster. “I am also very proud of the school board’s accomplishments over the past four years, especially in regards to fiscal responsibility and the significant improvements that have been made in school safety. As president of the board, I was privileged to play [a] significant role in the hiring of our new Superintendent Jeffrey Miller and Assistant Superintendent Kevin Finefrock. I am confident that through their leadership, and the financial leadership [of] our Treasurer Eydie Snowberger, that the best is yet to come for Green Local Schools.”
    Stoynoff placed second behind Campbell with 20.62 percent (1,918) and earned one more vote than Fanelly, who received 20.61 percent of the vote (1,917). Rick Miller followed Foster with 18.6 percent.
    “The district’s new leadership in administration is positioned well,” Campbell said. “The next four years will be unbelievable and great.”
    Stoynoff said she was “thrilled to be able to serve on the board.”
    “I look forward to getting in there and sorting out what the issues are and to move us forward,” she said. “I aim to make Green Schools a model district in the state.”
    Fanelly said she was “honored that people put their trust in me.” She added that she plans to “work hard” and offer her “integrity” as a board member.
    “Together with other board members, I will strive for excellence for this district, as we have in the past,” said Fanelly.
  • Manchester Local Schools Board of Education: Incumbents Kelly Dolan and Richard Sponseller faced challengers Randy Hoppe and Paul Sharkey for the three seats up for election. Board member Jay Hunter did not file for re-election.
    Sponseller was the top vote-getter with 35 percent, followed by Dolan with 26 percent. They will be joined on the board next year by Hoppe, who received 20 percent. Sharkey followed Hoppe with 19 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.
  • Springfield Local Schools Board of Education: Three seats were up for election, and all of the candidates — incumbents Cindy Collins and Mary Lou Dodson, and former board member Glenn Wieland — were unopposed.
    Board member Neal Hess did not seek re-election.
  • 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.
  • Stark County Educational Service Center Board: Voters living in Green precinct 2-A (02) and New Franklin precincts 3-B (02), 4-A (03) and 4-B (02) voted for the three seats up for election. Incumbents Jim Holmes, Jack Sickafoose and Richard Wingerter defeated challenger Howard Wernow.
    Sickafoose was the top vote-getter with 20,438 votes, followed by Wingerter with 19,658, Holmes with 19,285 and Wernow with 10,370. The results reflect totals in Stark and Summit counties.
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