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Manchester levy gains provisional votes

11/21/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Judge Cook also gains votes in Akron Municipal Court race

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Manchester Local Schools operating levy increased its lead with the addition of provisional votes from the Nov. 5 General Election, and Akron Municipal Court Judge Katarina Cook will likely keep her seat on the bench after gaining votes to put her ahead of challenger Jon Oldham.


The Summit County Board of Elections (BOE) released an updated vote summary Nov. 18 that showed that Issue No. 45, the Manchester levy, now has 1,315 “yes” votes to 1,304 “no” votes for a difference of 11 votes. On election night, the levy was winning by just one vote.


Manchester Superintendent Sam Reynolds said the news this week was “wonderful.”


“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said, noting that there will be an automatic recount because the difference was less than one-half of 1 percent. BOE Director Joe Masich said the board will next meet to certify the election results Nov. 26, and at that time will schedule a date for the recount to take place.


With the levy assumed to be successful, Reynolds said he is grateful to voters for helping to get the request for new money passed on its first try.


“The schools have been cut drastically by the state and federal governments, and the next step was to eliminate important student programming, so I think people received that message and voted for their children,” Reynolds said. “I’m grateful to them. I know that it was a difficult decision. I appreciate all the people who voted in this election, and I have a great respect for Manchester people and their support of their schools over the years.”


According to district officials, the five-year, 5.99-mill operating levy will cost the owner of a property valued at $100,000 about $210 annually in new taxes and raise a little more than $1.1 million annually for the district’s General Fund. The levy would be effective this year, with collections to start in 2014.


Revenue from the district’s General Fund is used to pay for operating expenses that include employee salaries and benefits, purchased services such as insurance and contract services, textbooks, transportation, extracurricular programs for students, materials and supplies, according to Reynolds.


He added this week that he doesn’t expect any changes to be made in the district at this time. Cuts already made will remain.


The BOE also reported this week that in the race for Akron Municipal Court, incumbent Cook now has 13,887 votes, or 50.03 percent, to Oldham’s 13,870, or 49.97 percent — a difference of 17 votes. On election night Nov. 5, Oldham was leading in the race with 16 votes.


Masich said there will be a recount in this race as well.


Cook said she was happy to see that her campaign gained the votes to put her at the top.


“I am obviously so very grateful to the voters and am looking forward to serving the court as judge for six more years,” she said. “This is just proof that every vote counts.”


Cook said she and her fellow judges are currently working to certify the court’s specialty courts, of which hers deals with repeat OVI offenders. She added she is interested in exploring a program for shoplifters, as that has become a big problem in the community.


Oldham said he is grateful for the support he received in his first time running for office.


“I’m still somewhat stunned with it being so close,” he said. “It’s not over until they say it’s over, but we are getting close to it being over. Win or lose, it’s nice to run such a close race.”


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.


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