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Few surprises in May Primary

5/8/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Collins and Stephanie Kist

Incumbents move on to November; Bath parks, Woodridge levies pass

SUMMIT/MEDINA COUNTIES — There were few surprises during the May 6 Primary Election as many county, state and federal candidates on the ballot in Summit and Medina counties were unopposed.

According to the Summit County Board of Elections (BOE), voter turnout was about 12 percent. Of the votes cast, Democrats cast 61 percent, Republicans cast 41 percent and 1 percent were nonpartisan. In Medina County, voter turnout was about 17 percent. As of presstime, the BOEs had yet to certify the results.

The following is based on the unofficial election results from Summit and Medina counties’ BOEs and the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. If only one Republican and one Democrat filed in a race, the two candidates will face off in the Nov. 4 General Election.

For a complete listing of races, including county central committee winners, visit the Summit County BOE’s website at www.summitcountyboe.com, the Medina County BOE’s website at www.boe.co.medina.oh.us or the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.state.oh.us.



SUMMIT COUNTY

Judges

All of the local judge races were unopposed in the Primary, and those candidates will face off in November.

In the race for the 9th District Court of Appeals judge seat, incumbent Democrat Eve Belfance will face Republican challenger Julie Schafer, who was elected as an Akron Municipal Court judge this past November.

Seven Summit County Common Pleas judgeships also are up for election this year.

Incumbent Republican Tammy O’Brien will face Democrat Ron Cable for the seat she has held since 2011.

Republican incumbent Lynne Callahan will face Democrat Tavia Baxter Galonski for the seat she has held since 2009.

Republican incumbent Alison McCarty will face Democrat Lisa Dean for the seat she’s held since 2009.

Democratic incumbent Mary Margaret Rowlands will face Republican Beth Whitmore, who has been a 9th District Court of Appeals judge for the past 15 years. Rowland has held the seat since 2009.

Incumbent Christine Croce, a Republican who was appointed to the Common Pleas seat this past November after the retirement of Judge Judy Hunter, will face Democrat John Clark.

Incumbent Republican Tom Parker, who has held the seat since 2009, will face Democrat Rob McCarty.

Incumbent Republican Jane Davis will face Democrat Jon Oldham. Davis was appointed this past July to the seat formerly held by Elinore Marsh Stormer, who won election as Summit County Probate Court judge in November 2012.

Akron Municipal Court Judge Katarina Cook, a Republican, is challenging Democratic incumbent John Quinn to the Domestic Relations Court seat he has held since 2003.

Stormer, a Democrat, is facing a challenge to her Probate Court seat by Republican Kandi O’Connor.

Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio, a Democrat who has held the seat since 2003, is facing a challenge by Republican Jill Flagg Lanzinger.

Summit County Council at-large representative

Three Summit County Council at-large seats are up for election this year. Five Democrats and five Republicans faced off, with the top three vote-getters in each party moving on to the November General Election.

Democratic incumbents Ilene Shapiro and Sandra Kurt were the second and third highest voter-getters in the Democratic Primary with 26 percent and 22 percent of votes, respectively. The top vote-getter was former county fiscal officer John Donofrio, who earned 27 percent of votes. Daniel Congrove, a former County Council member, received 13 percent, followed by Richfield Village Councilman Michael Wheeler, with 11 percent.

In the Republican Primary, Debbie Walsh came out on top with 28 percent of votes, followed by incumbent Bill Roemer with 27 percent, Gary Hagen with 21 percent, at-large Cuyahoga Falls Councilman Jeff Iula with 12 percent and Carl Crew with 11.5 percent.

Local state races

For the District 34 seat, Emilia Sykes, daughter of current District 34 state Rep. Vernon Sykes, who is term limited, defeated Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale (District 4) with 62 percent of votes in the Democratic Primary. Emilia Sykes will face Republican Cynthia Blake in November.

Earlier this week, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled Comunale violated campaign finance law when he failed to timely file a designation of treasurer for the race, according to the Ohio Elections Commission.

Calls seeking comment by Emilia Sykes and Comunale were unsuccessful by presstime.

Incumbent District 27 State Sen. Frank LaRose, a Republican, defeated Caleb Davenport in the Republican Primary by 62 percent. LaRose will face Democrat George Rusiska in November.

Other state races that were unopposed in the primary include the District 36, 37 and 38 races.

Current District 36 state Rep. Anthony DeVitis, a Republican, will face a challenge from Summit County Councilwoman Paula Prentice (District 8), a Democrat, in November.

In the District 37 race, Republican incumbent Kristina Daley Roegner will face Democrat David Worhatch in November.

Longtime Summit County Councilman Tim Crawford (District 7), a Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Marilyn Slaby for the District 38 seat.


Local issues

Bath parks levy

Bath Township voters overwhelmingly approved renewing the community’s parks levy, casting just less than 75 percent of votes in favor of Issue No. 15.

The levy, which costs property owners about $23 for each $100,000 of property valuation, collects about $370,000 a year, according to Township Administrator Vito Sinopoli. The current levy expires at the end of this year, so collection of the renewal, a five-year levy, will begin in 2015.

“I’m encouraged, obviously, by the vote,” Sinopoli said by phone on election night. “To me, it reflects really a committment by our community that the park system is a very important part of Bath Township. The park is certainly a defining feature of Bath Township, and clearly a vote in support of the park levy reinforces that commitment.”

The funds go toward operations and maintenance of the township’s four park properties — which means it covers the costs of salaries for park staff, equipment to maintain areas and gasoline to power the department’s tools and vehicles.

Bath’s four parks are Bath Baseball Park, 4600 Everett Road; Bath Community Activity Center, 1615 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road; Bath Hill Park, 763 N. Revere Road; and Bath Nature Preserve, 4160 Ira Road. Township officials said they estimate that 100,000 people visited parks in Bath last year.

In addition to the levy and grant funding, the parks are funded through donations and money earned through leases. In 2002, The University of Akron (UA) entered into an agreement with Bath Township to lease 55 acres of wetland-sensitive areas for preservation and restoration. An additional 41 acres of the Bath Nature Preserve are leased to UA for research.

In previous levy attempts, voters have supported the township’s parks levy. In 2009, 77 percent of Bath voters were in favor of the renewal.

Sinopoli said if the levy had not been renewed, the township would have moved to put the issue on the November General Election ballot.

Norton charter amendments

City voters approved two amendments to Norton’s charter — Issue No. 9, which concerns the current residency requirement for the city’s administrative officer, and Issue No. 10, which changes the limits for competitive bidding for city projects.

Issue No. 9 was approved by 67 percent of votes, while Issue No. 10 received 72 percent.

Mayor Mike Zita said eliminating the residency requirement is something that came to light as the city began searching for a new administrative officer in the past few months. Valerie Wax Carr, of Cuyahoga Falls, who previously served as the service director there, was appointed to the position on an interim basis in February.

Wax Carr took the place of Richard Ryland, who resigned from the administrator position in November. She is considered on an interim basis for six months because the charter states that after six months, the person holding the job must be a Norton resident, according to city officials.

Zita said he isn’t sure how long or why the residency requirement has been in effect, but he added the administrative officer is the only nonelected position in the city that has such a requirement.

With approval of Issue No. 10, bidding for contracts of $25,000 or more now will be required. Also, the city’s Board of Control and two-thirds of Council will need to approve contracts of $25,000 or greater. Further, contracts costing between $10,000 and $25,000 now will be awarded only with approval from the Board of Control and a simple majority of Council.

According to Norton Law Director Justin Markey, when a previous charter amendment regarding bidding passed in 2012, it removed the city’s bidding limits. That meant the city followed the Ohio Revised Code, which requires competitive bidding only in cases of more than $50,000.

Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey (at large), who favored the amendment, said the removal of the requirement was done unintentionally on the part of the citizens who initiated the charter change at the time.

Woodridge renewal levy

Electors in the Woodridge Local School District voted to approve a 10.87-mill levy renewal for another 10 years, with just less than 60 percent casting votes to pass Issue No. 8.

“Obviously, we’re pleased,” Superintendent Walter Davis said of the levy renewal’s passage. “I think we tried to do a good job of getting the message out that we’re not asking people to pay more.”

Davis said he feels the district and Board of Education do a “good job trying to be as transparent as we can and work with our community to move forward, and I think tonight is evidence that we have their support.”

Davis said the funds raised by the levy represents about 23 percent of the district’s budget, bringing in $5.27 million for operating expenses.

“It’s critical,” Davis said.

Voters approved the levy five years ago. At that time, two separate levies were combined into one to reduce the frequency of the district going on the ballot, Davis said.

The levy costs property owners in the district $332 per year for every $100,000 in assessed value, according to district Treasurer Deanna Levenger, and since it is a renewal, it will continue to collect that amount.

“It’s not a new tax,” Davis said. “It is our General Operating Fund, so it’s for the typical everyday expenses of the school district, such as salaries, benefits, purchased services, utilities, gas, electric, water — all that.”

One of the reasons the district opted to go with a 10-year levy is that district officials want to have levies spaced so voters are not being asked to approve a levy very often, said Davis.

“I’d like to thank the community for supporting our schools,” Davis said, adding district and board officials are “elated” the renewal passed and they can continue to “try to live up to the trust that the community has put in us.”



MEDINA COUNTY

For Medina County Common Pleas Court judge, Republicans Mike Callow and Gary Werner faced off, with Werner winning with 64 percent of votes. He will face Democrat Joyce Kimbler, the wife of current Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler, who is retiring, in November.

With incumbent Republican William Batchelder term limited and reportedly retiring, three candidates filed for the District 69 state representative seat. Steve Hambley, a county commissioner, defeated Chris Sawicki in the Republican Primary with 61 percent of votes. He will face Democrat Richard Javorek in November.

Several races in Medina County also were uncontested in the primary. For county commissioner, Republican incumbent Adam Friedrick will face Democrat Elisa Kazek in November.

For the county auditor’s race, incumbent Democrat Mike Kovack will face Republican Keith Dirham in November.

For Juvenile/Probate Court judge, Republican incumbent Kevin Dunn will face Democrat David Sheldon in November.



STATE RACES

Five state seats are up for election this year and only one race was contested in the primary.

In the governor’s race, two Democrats — Larry Ealy (with running mate Ken Gray) and Edward FitzGerald (with running mate Sharen Neuhardt) — faced off, with FitzGerald overwhelmingly winning with 83 percent of votes in the Democratic Primary. FitzGerald will face Republican incumbent Gov. John Kasich (with running mate Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor) and Green Party’s Anita Rios (with running mate Bob Fitrakis), who are write-in candidates, in November.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, was unopposed in the primary and will face Libertarian Steven Linnabary and Democrat David Pepper in November.

In the state auditor’s race, Republican incumbent David Yost also was unopposed and will face challengers Democrat John Carney and Libertarian Bob Bridges, a write-in candidate, in November.

Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, will face Libertarian Kevin Knedler, a write-in candidate, and Democrat Nina Turner in November.

State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican, also was unopposed in the primary and will face Democrat Connie Pillich in November.

Two Ohio Supreme Court judge seats are up for election and will face off in November since all of the candidates were unopposed in the primary. Incumbent Republican Judi French will challenge Democrat John O’Donnell, and incumbent Republican Sharon Kennedy will challenge Democrat Tom Letson.

State Issue No. 1

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the only statewide issue on the ballot, Issue No. 1, with 65 percent of votes.

The constitutional amendment will permit the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance capital improvements for local governments and other governmental entities. Projects will be limited to roads and bridges, wastewater treatment systems, water supply systems, solid waste disposal facilities, and storm water and sanitary collection, storage and treatment facilities.

Issue No. 1 authorizes $1.875 billion in infrastructure aid for local governments — $175 million a year for the first five years, then $200 million a year for the next five years, according to www.strong-ohio.com, the website that promoted the issue. All counties will benefit from the program.

A fact sheet from Strong Ohio Communities said 35,000 jobs could result from the program in the coming years.

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, the Ohio Constitution currently contains a provision authorizing the state to issue bonds to finance public infrastructure capital improvements through the State Capital Improvements Program, or SCIP. The program was first approved by voters in 1987 and was renewed in 1995 and 2005. Issue No. 1 reauthorizes issuance of those bonds.

Since its inception, the program has provided funding for more than 11,500 public projects in Ohio.



FEDERAL RACES

Three congressional races were contested in the primary.

In the District 13 race, incumbent Tim Ryan handily defeated fellow Democrat John Luchansky with 85 percent of votes. Ryan will face Republican Thomas Pekarek, a write-in candidate, in November. District 13 includes Akron in the area surrounding Downtown Akron, as well as the area north of the city, parts of West Akron and Cuyahoga Falls, and Peninsula and Boston.

In the District 14 race, Republican incumbent David Joyce defeated Matt Lynch with 55 percent of votes in the Republican Primary. Joyce will face Democrat Michael Wager and Libertarian David Macko in November. District 14 includes a portion of Ward 8 in Cuyahoga Falls.

In the District 16 race, former Summit County Councilman Pete Crossland defeated James Donenwirth with 58 percent of votes in the Democratic Primary. Crossland will face Republican incumbent Jim Renacci, who was unopposed in the Republican Primary, in November. District 16 includes Copley, Norton, Granger and Sharon.

“I feel good and excited,” said Crossland, of West Akron. “It’s good to get through the primary. The message is catching on with people. The message is that changes need to be made in Washington and Congress is not working. People are tired of it.”

Residents living in District 11 — which includes West Akron, Bath, Fairlawn and Richfield — will see Democratic incumbent Marcia Fudge and Republican Mark Zetzer on the November ballot since both candidates were unopposed in the primary.

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