Wetzel wins judge race
MOUNT VERNON — Richard Wetzel will be Knox County’s next judge of common pleas after winning 55 percent of the Republican vote in Tuesday’s primary election over Noel Alden.
Wetzel had 6,315 votes over Alden’s 5,021. No independent or Democrat candidates have filed for the judge’s seat, so Wetzel goes into the November election unopposed.
Speaking Tuesday night as results came in showing a commanding lead, Wetzel said his winning the judge’s seat “feels like a miracle.”
“I think it feels like a miracle to me,” Wetzel said. “I started out nine months ago, and in politics you just never know how it will turn out.”
Wetzel ran in part on a message of combating substance abuse by tapping community resources to prevent the problem before it lands someone in court. Wetzel said following through on that message will mean being more than just a presence on the bench.
“I’m looking forward to working with the community,” Wetzel said. “To serve the community well, you have to be out in it.”
Alden said he is “humbled” by the amount of support he received. Alden said he feels that he ran a good campaign, but lost votes because he did not have the backing of the party. But, he said the county is “in good hands” with Wetzel.
“The great news is we have three fantastic judges in place,” Alden said. “We need to rally around Rick, who I know is going to do a fantastic job. I know he is really going to go after the drug issue.”
Results are not official until certified by the Knox County Board of Elections.
3 levies passed in townships
MOUNT VERNON — Voters in Morgan and Pleasant townships showed their resounding voice of support for various levies in Tuesday’s primary election.
Pleasant Township was asking for an additional .5-mill levy for fire and EMS protection. Voters gave their approval by a margin of 398 (63.68 percent) to 227 (36.32 percent). This levy will be added to existing levies of 1.5 and .5 mills and will run through 2019.
“I’m glad to hear it. We’ll continue on and hope to get this thing all combined in four more years so it’s one levy instead of three,” said township trustee Jim Hughes following Tuesday’s election results. “This will be a lot simpler for them.”
This levy now raises an additional $26,000 per year and will cost homeowners $17.50 per $100,000 of valuation.
In Morgan Township, renewal levies were being sought for EMS service as well as roads and bridges. The EMS levy passed by a margin of 283 (78.18 percent) to 79 (21.82 percent), while the roads and bridges levy received approval by a vote of 271 (74.25 percent) to 94 (25.75 percent).
“That’s good news,” said township trustee Rod Booth on Tuesday evening. “We can now get some roads ready to be paved this year.”
The EMS levy approval will bring in $16,000 per year and will cost homeowners $28 per year for every $100,000 of valuation. The roads and bridges levy will collect $73,000 per year and will cost homeowners $105 per year for every $100,000 of valuation.
Results are not official until certified by the Knox County Board of Elections.
Delaware voters propel Carfagna to 68th District state representative spot
MOUNT VERNON — It became clear quickly that the race for the Republican nomination for the 68th Ohio House District seat was between Beth Lear and Rick Carfagna, both from the Westerville area in Delaware County.
As the race went late into the night, Lear was ahead because of a large winning margin in Knox County, but Carfagna kept narrowing the margin as votes came in from Delaware County, which was slow to report.
Finally, just before midnight, the final results came in from D e l awa r e County and Carfagna had racked up enough votes to best Lear by just over 2,000 votes in the district. Carfagna ended the evening with 10,987, while Lear garnered 8,911. In Delaware County, the totals were 8,485 for Carfagna; 4,396 for Lear; 772 for Jason Rogers; 593 for Patrick Quinn; and 185 for Myles Bancroft. In Knox County, the totals were Lear, 4,515; Rogers, 3,059; Carfagna, 2,502; Quinn, 982; and Bancroft, 303; for overall totals of 3,831 for Rogers, 1,575 for Quinn, and 488 for Bancroft.
Lear jumped to a solid lead in Knox County with early returns and by the time all 51 precincts were counted she had 4,515 votes to Carfagna’s 2,502.
After the Knox results came in, it became clear that the results would be determined by whether Carfagna’s margin in Delaware County would offset Lear’s edge in Knox.
“It was amazing. Obviously, all the way up to the very end, we thought we had managed to pull it off. But, it is difficult to beat the political machine,” Lear told the News this morning. “I can’t tell you how kind and generous the voters of Knox have been. What a great blessing it has been to campaign up there.”
When contacted about 11:20 p.m., Carfagna said he wasn’t ready to issue a statement, but noted that things “were trending well” in Delaware County. A few minutes later, the 10 precincts came in that put him ahead. Calls to Carfagna this morning seeking comment were not returned.
Centerburg’s Rogers, the endorsed candidate of the Knox County Republican Party, trailed Carfagna and Lear.
“We did everything we could with the amount of resources we had,” Rogers said. “I knocked on 3,000 doors, not counting what volunteers did. There was not much more we could have done.”
He thought he succeeded in getting out the message that he was the only candidate with experience in both business and agriculture, as well as a school board member.
Whether he will run for office again, he can’t say.
“I’m still on the school board and I will concentrate on that until my term’s over,” he said.
Bancroft could not be reached and Quinn did not respond to a message left for him.
Few issues with voting changes
MOUNT VERNON — Just over 44 percent of Knox County’s registered voters exercised their right to vote on Tuesday with a total of 17,242 voters making their way to the polls. The party breakdown included 3,967 Democrats; 13,253 Republicans; seven Green; 15 nonpartisan and three blank.
Voters were greeted with some changes as the Knox County Board of Elections put new machines, and voting process, into play.
Experiencing a little difficulty in getting her vote cast was Karen Bush, who admitted she initially did not follow the directions of choosing just one candidate for certain positions. After telling Bush her initial ballot would have to be canceled, poll workers had difficulty canceling the ballot as the registration computer said Bush was not authorized to vote.
“It was my fault. I didn’t read the instructions,” said Bush, who later said the Republican ballot was a bit confusing, asking for votes for delegates-at-large and district delegates from the same pool of candidates.
“It went very smooth. There was that delegate issue, but I read the News and was able to decipher that myself,” said poll worker Ruth Frady. She said she was briefed on the potential confusion on the Republican ballot before Election Day and was prepared to explain the process to voters if they had any questions.
“After about the first hour and a half in the morning I was very pleased with it, considering there were 51 precincts. We had a little trouble with a couple of precincts at first, but overall I think it went great,” Horn said this morning.
“It went very well. The process was very smooth,” said Lauri Lange of her voting experience Tuesday at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre. Lang said she was not asked about her party affiliation when she went to sign in, but she said she had not declared a party and needed to give the poll workers her choice.
Voters trying to view the online results on the BOE website in the posting of the early voting results and still later when results were showing zero precincts reporting.
Director of the Board of Elections Kim Horn called it an “input error.”
“It’s just a way of putting something in the computer, and it did not affect the results,” said Horn, adding that the issue will be corrected today.
“It did take us a while to get our absentees out with our first reports,” said Horn. “With our new scanner, we had to remark some of the ballots. It’s a very sensitive scanner, and we weren’t anticipating this, so we’ll have to get the calibration adjusted.”
Four counties in Ohio were given additional voting time Tuesday evening by Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, but Horn said this had no effect on the posting of results for Knox County.
Clear Fork renewal levy passes
BELLVILLE — Clear Fork Valley Local Schools are celebrating the outcome of Tuesday’s ballot. District residents were asked to renew an existing 1 percent earned income tax, and the measure passed in both Richland and Knox counties. There were 118 “yes” votes in Brown and Pike townships in Knox County and 117 “no” votes. Richland County voters approved the measure 62 percent to 38 percent.
Superintendent Janice Wyckoff was very happy with the results.
“This a historic moment in the Valley,” she said, “for brand new buildings. Our (elementary) buildings are over 100 years old. We couldn’t be more pleased and excited about the future for our children and the Valley as a whole.”
The tax will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and be in place for 20 years. Of the money generated, 75 cents of every dollar will be used for general operating expenses, and 25 cents of every dollar will go toward the construction of two new elementary school buildings, in the villages of Butler and Bellville, respectively.
Results are not official until certified by the Board of Elections.