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    2017 Ohio election update

    On November 7, 2017, Ohioans voted on two statewide ballot issues, as well as numerous local issues and candidates. In the statewide issues, voters overwhelmingly defeated Issue 2, with nearly 80 percent of voters rejecting the measure. Similarly, voters approved Issue 1 by a wide margin, making Ohio the sixth state to pass Marsy’s Law.

    Here is Bricker & Eckler’s overview of the 2017 general election results and details on races of particular interest.

    STATEWIDE BALLOT ISSUES

    Issue 1: The Ohio Crime Victims Bill of Rights, also known as Marsy’s Law, is a proposed constitutional amendment designed to provide a way to enforce crime victims’ rights. Under Marsy’s Law, victims or their families would have to be notified of any change in the status of the person accused of the crime. Victims and family members would also have the right to receive reasonable protection from the accused or any person acting on his or her behalf. Issue 1 passed with approximately 83 percent of voters approving the measure. However, both the Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Public Defender oppose the issue based on concerns that giving victims’ families standing in criminal cases will interfere with the ability to conduct fair and impartial trials. Marsy’s Law has successfully passed in California, Illinois, North Dakota and Montana.

    Issue 2: Originally proposed for the 2016 ballot, the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act is an initiated statute to prohibit the State of Ohio from entering any agreement for the purchase of prescription drugs or agreeing to pay, directly or indirectly, for prescription drugs unless the net cost is the same or lower than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Issue 2 failed, only garnering approximately 20 percent of the vote. The same ballot measure also failed in California in 2016.

    JUDICIAL RACES

    Cleveland Municipal Court: Eight Cleveland Municipal Court seats were up in 2017. Three candidates, Pinkey Carr, Michelle Denise Earley and Joseph Zone, ran unopposed. As for the remaining five contested seats, Jazmin Torres-Lugo was elected in a close race with 36 percent of the vote. Receiving almost 50 percent of the vote, Lynn McLaughlin-Murray secured a seat on the bench. Michael Nelson, Sr. was successful, receiving almost 47 percent of the vote. Ann Clare Oakar won her race by a larger margin, with almost 63 percent of the vote. In another extremely close race, Ronald J. H. O’Leary received 39.45 percent of the vote, beating his closest opponent, W. Mona Scott, by approximately 1 percent.

    Franklin County Municipal Court: Franklin County residents voted for several seats on the municipal court—three for terms beginning in January 2018 and one for an unexpired term ending December 31, 2019.

    In a three-way race for the bench, George Leach, Jr. ran against Edward Pfau and Andrea Peeples. Ms. Peeples was victorious, receiving 65 percent of the vote. Mr. Leach received 32 percent of the vote.

    Sean McCarthy faced incumbent Judge Cynthia Morehart again—the two ran against each other in 2015, where Judge Morehart was successful. Ms. Morehart defeated Mr. McCarthy again, receiving 59 percent of the vote to Mr. McCarthy’s 41 percent.

    Assistant Columbus City Attorney Jarrod Skinner defeated fellow Assistant Columbus City Attorney Glenn Willer for the open seat that was created when Judge Michael T. Brandt retired. Mr. Skinner received approximately 60 percent of the vote.

    Incumbent Judge Jodi Thomas, Magistrate Morgan Masters and Keith Nowak ran in a three-way race for the unexpired term ending in December 2019. Judge Thomas was successful, receiving 50 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Magistrate Masters.

    Hamilton County Municipal Court: Eight of the Hamilton County Municipal Court seats were up for re-election, but only three were contested races. Elisa Murphy, Alan Triggs and Rodney Harris ran for the District 2 seat. Mr. Triggs was victorious, receiving approximately 49 percent of the vote. Curt Kissinger and Darlene Rogers ran against each other for the District 4 seat. Mr. Kissinger was successful with about 55 percent of the vote. Julia Collier, Kevin Donovan and Jackie Ginocchio ran for the District 7 seat. Receiving approximately 55 percent of the vote, Ms. Ginocchio won the election.

    Running unopposed were Fanon Rucker of District 1, William Mallory of District 3, Brad Greenberg of District 5, Bernie Bouchard of District 6, and Gwen Bender for the unexpired term in District 7, which ends in January 2020.

    Dayton Municipal Court: Three seats on the Dayton Municipal Court were up and all three incumbent candidates ran unopposed. Judge Daniel Gehres, Judge Christopher Roberts and Judge Deirdre Logan were reelected.

    MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL RACES

    Cincinnati Mayor: Incumbent John Cranley and City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, both Democrats, ran for Cincinnati mayor. Mr. Cranley won the general election, receiving about 54 percent of the vote to Ms. Simpson’s 46 percent. In the May primary, Councilwoman Simpson took the top spot with 45 percent of the vote to Mayor Cranley’s 34.5 percent.

    Cincinnati City Council: All nine Cincinnati City Council seats were up. Council members are elected citywide without districts and serve four-year terms. There were 23 candidates and one official write-in candidate on the ballot. The Democratic Party endorsed nine candidates and the Republican Party endorsed three. The nine new Cincinnati City Council members are PG Sittenfeld, David Mann, Chris Seelbach, Wendell Young, Christopher Smitherman, Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Amy Murray and Jeff Pastor. Mr. Sittenfeld was the top choice, receiving about 38 percent of the vote.

    Cleveland Mayor: Incumbent Mayor Frank Jackson was successful, with nearly 60 percent of the vote, in his bid for a fourth four-year term, which is unprecedented. He faced City Councilman Zack Reed.

    Cleveland City Council: All 17 wards of Cleveland City Council seats were up for election and contested. Michael Polensek won the election for Ward 8 with 87 percent of the vote—the largest margin of victory for any candidate. The race for Ward 7 was extremely close, with Basheer Jones defeating TJ Dow by a small margin, 50.31 percent to 49.69 percent.

    Columbus City Council: Columbus residents chose between six candidates to fill three seats on Columbus City Council. Incumbents Mitchell J. Brown, Shannon G. Hardin and Priscilla R. Tyson received endorsements from the Columbus Dispatch and were successfully reelected.

    Lima Mayor: Incumbent Mayor David Berger successfully defeated Keith Cheney. Mr. Berger has held the office for 28 years. Only 14 percent of the 22,294 registered voters participated in the May primary in which Mr. Cheney received 43 percent of the vote to Mr. Berger’s 41 percent. In the general election, Mayor Berger was reelected with approximately 53 percent of the vote to Mr. Cheney’s 47 percent.

    Toledo Mayor: Two Democrats ran against each other in Toledo’s mayoral race. Incumbent Paula Hicks-Hudson was the Party’s endorsed candidate. Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz challenged Hicks-Hudson and won, receiving nearly 56 percent of the vote.  

    Toledo City Council: Toledo citizens voted to elect six at-large council members to Toledo’s City Council. Sandy Spang, Rob Ludeman, Cecelia Adams, Gary Johnson, Nick Komives and Larry Sykes were all elected to Toledo City Council at-large.

    Youngstown Mayor: Four candidates were on the ballot for Youngstown mayor: Janet Tarpley, Sean McKinney, Jamael Tito Brown and Cecil Monroe. Mr. Brown won the election with 47 percent of the vote, edging out Mr. McKinney by only 162 votes.

    Youngstown President of Council: Democrat DeMaine Kitchen ran unopposed for president of Youngtown City Council.

    OTHER ISSUES OF INTEREST

    City of Circleville and Berger Health System: Voters in the City of Circleville opted to change the ownership of Berger Health System. Berger, previously owned by the City of Circleville and Pickaway County, sought to shift to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. An ordinance requiring voters to approve any change in ownership of the hospital had previously been passed by Circleville City Council. This measure was endorsed by Pickaway County Commissioners, the City of Circleville local government and the hospital itself; there was no formal opposition. The issue passed by 82 percent.

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