Home City 7 winners and losers of the 2017 Athens and Ohio election

7 winners and losers of the 2017 Athens and Ohio election

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VOTE 2017

The 2017 election results are in, and The New Political has you covered. What happened with Issue 1? Will Marijuana be de-penalized within city limits? Here are this year’s election results: 

Two incumbents, one newcomer elected to City Council

Incumbents Pat McGee and Peter Kotses, and newcomer Sarah Grace won the three at-large city council seats. The three candidates’ votes were comparable, with Kotses bringing in 1,527 (24.69 percent), Grace with 1,447 (23.40 percent) and McGee with 1,429 (23.11 percent), according to unofficial results from the Athens County Board of Elections.

City Council President Chris Knisely, a Democrat, ran unopposed and was reelected. Jeff Risner (D-Second Ward), Sam Crowl (D-Third Ward) and Chris Fahl (D-Fourth Ward) were also reelected after an unopposed run.

Kent Butler (D-First Ward), an incumbent, won his race against Independent Brian Cristi.

What does this mean? Well, basically, city council won’t change much. McGee is still the only non-Democrat on the council, and Grace is the only new member.

Independent Noah Trembly and Democrat Arian Smedley lost their bids for an at-large seat. Smedley was appointed to a vacant city council seat a few months ago, but had not previously been elected to the council.

One returning and one new Township Trustee

Incumbent trustee Steve Pierson and newcomer Eddie Smith won the race for the two available township trustee positions, with 32 percent and 37 percent of votes respectively.

Smith was formerly the president of Ohio University Graduate Student Senate. Currently, he’s the Executive Director of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council.

The two will provide a balance, as Pierson is a Republican, while Smith is a Democrat. While the race for Township Trustee is not typically partisan, Smith was backed by the Athens County Democratic Party.


Two new, one returning face on Athens City School Board

Incumbent Kim Goldsberry, and newcomers Paul Grippa and Sean Parsons were elected to the Athens City School Board.

Bruce Nottke, the other incumbent in the race, did not secure enough votes to keep his seat. He has been on the school board for 16 years.

Goldsberry received the most ballots cast with 2,504 votes, according to the Athens County Board of Elections. Grippa received 2,307 votes and Parsons came in third with 2,066 votes

Crime victim rights issue passes

Issue 1 passed both statewide and in Athens county. According to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, the issue passed with 82 percent of state voters casting ballots in favor of amendment that would give crime victims more rights.

Marsy’s Law is named after Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend in California in 1983, according to Marsy’s Law for All, the national organization that campaigns for these laws across the country. Marsy’s Law passed in California in 2008.

Proponents of the law say it would give crime victims more rights to protect the from both the justice system and accused individuals.

But opponents, like State Public Defender Tim Young, said the law wouldn’t actually do anything to ensure rights are protected.

“It’s like buying a car with a warranty, but the warranty says you have no recourse against the manufacturer if it doesn’t work. What’s the point?” Young said in an interview with the Ohio Statehouse News Bureau.

Other states that have enacted versions of Marsy’s Law include Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Marsy’s Law has never failed at the polls, and now Ohio is no exception.

Ohio Drug Price Relief Act fails

The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, or Issue 2, failed to pass statewide with 79 percent of voters voting against the measure.

If passed, Issue 2 would have allowed the state to purchase prescription medication at the discounted rate – 24 percent – that is paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Critics of the issue said it would have been difficult to implement.

Marijuana sees local depenalization

Supporters of The Athens Cannabis Ordinance have reason to celebrate. The issue passed with 76 percent of the Athens vote. TACO, as it’s called, would “de-penalize” marijuana-related crimes in the state.

The ordinance is based on a section of the Ohio Constitution — Article 18, Section 3 — that allows municipalities to change laws and penalties for misdemeanors within city limits.

While the passage of TACO would mean local depenalization, it does nothing to actually decriminalize marijuana offenses under the Ohio Revised Code.

Still, supporters of TACO say this is the first step to decriminalization in the state.

All levies passed

There were several levies on the ballot this year, all of which were approved by a comfortable margin. They are:

  1. Renewal of a property tax for the Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services District
    • One-mill tax rate
    • Generates about $1.6 million each year
    • Passed with 70 percent voting yes
    • Will last for 10 years before it’s back up for renewal
  2. Renewal of a property tax for the maintenance and operation of programs and services of the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities for persons with developmental disabilities
    • 1.8-mill tax rate
    • Will last for eight years
    • Passed with 71 percent voting yes
  3. Renewal of a tax for for emergency medical services in Athens County
    • One-mill tax rate
    • Will last for five years
  4. Renewal of an income tax for the Athens City School District to provide operating expenses
    • 1 percent tax rate on the earned income of individuals residing in the school district
    • Generates about $4 million annually, and makes up about 12.5 percent of the school district’s total budget
    • Was last approved in 2014, but will last for 10 years this time instead of five
    • Passed with 65 percent voting yes

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the percentage of votes received by the candidates in the Township Trustee race. It has been corrected.

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