By: Josh Hypes
On November 5, Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Township voters went to the polls to vote on key community issues such as the School Board, Bellbrook City Council, and two renewal levies.
Bellbrook Sugarcreek Board of Education:
Karen Long – 1,798 Votes | 24% *
David Carpenter i – 1,769 Votes | 24% *
Kevin Price – 1,585 Votes | 21%
Elizabeth Betz i – 1,129 Votes | 15%
Heidi Anderson – 1,104 Votes | 15%
Micheal Schweller i – 1,156 Votes | 74% *
Douglass Johnson – 405 Votes | 26%
Bellbrook City Council:
Tim Taylor – 1,195 Votes | 27% *
Ernie Havens – 1,123 Votes | 25% *
Elaine Middlestetter i – 874 Votes | 19% *
Darryl McGill i – 699 Votes | 16%
Dona Segar-Lawson i – 606 Votes | 13%
Sugarcreek Township Police Levy Renewal:
For the Levy – 1,494 | 70% *
Against the Levy – 647 | 30%
Greene County Parks Levy Renewal:
For the Levy – 18,056 | 72% *
Against the Levy – 7,166 | 28%
Key: i stands for incumbent
* stands for winner
Carolyn L. Destefani (Sugarcreek Township Trustee), Theodore Hodson (Sugarcreek Township Financial Officer), Erik T. Eppers and Patricia A. Phipps (GCESC Board Members), and Ronald C. Lewis (Xenia Municipal Court Judge) all won their elections by default
Over the course of this election, many ideas across the different races were debated. The results show a clear determination of what voters believed should be the governing mandate. In addition, cross-referencing the data to the voter-turnout rates were low. Only 33.65% of citizens who are of voting age voted in the Bellbrook City Council elections while a lower 32.62% voted in the Board of Education election. The reason for the discrepancy between the numbers is because only citizens of the City of Bellbrook can vote in city council elections, while the Board of Education elections includes both the city of Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Township. However, low voter turn-outs are not unusual for off-year elections such as this one, according to the Secretary of State’s office: off-year elections average about a 37.55% voter turnout.
Bellbrook School Board:
The results from the election even with the low-voter turnout provide an interesting take on the desires of different voters. To start, the School Board election was perhaps the most active example of these elections with different ideas of generating funding after the failure of the replacement levy last May being one of the main points of the election. Incumbents Elizabeth Betz and David Carpenter faced challenges from Karen Long, Kevin Price, and Heidi Anderson. Incumbent Elizabeth Betz’s campaign took a position of pointing to her long record on the school board; however she also, in voters’ minds, openly took credit for the proposal of the May replacement levy spurring her failure in the election. In complete opposition of Betz, the campaign of Heidi Anderson sought to pin the issues of school funding on wasteful spending on behalf of the school board. She also asserted that the school board was unreliable and practicing nepotism. These extreme claims inevitably lead to a fallout with her and the more moderate voters who went to the polls, causing her campaign to be restricted to a limited pool of voters. The campaign of Kevin Price was a moderate take on seeking community advice on matters related to the board. Many voters saw this as him not having a plan and so he was unable to reach a threshold to get elected. David Carpenter and Karen Long were the two candidates who were elected, with their victory being widely attributed to the different ideas that resonate with voters. Carpenter presented himself as financially competent throughout the campaign, and devised a possible strategy to protect elderly constituents struggling to pay levies through the proposal of a community income tax. Karen Long, on the other hand, presented herself as a concerned parent who wanted what was best for students. With her experience in social work with disabled children, she was a viable candidate to help assist with the recent grade drop in special education services on the state report card.
Bellbrook City Council:
In the City Council election, the results are much less complicated. The challengers Tim Taylor and Ernie Havens, as notable members of the community, rounded up substantial support for their campaigns. They were able to present themselves as fresh faces to local politics, full of new ideas for restoring downtown Bellbrook and being financially competent to deal with the Little Sugarcreek Road repairs. The incumbents suffered a heavy backlash from voters with all three earning below 20% of the vote individually. Elaine Middlestetter was able to differentiate herself by sticking to her views on environmental cleanup and protection, giving her some type of depth that made her stick out compared to others. Going forward, the focus of the new City Council is likely to move forward on further investigation into the Little Sugarcreek Road repairs and further development on the Downtown Restoration Project.
The City Mayor race between incumbent Mike Schweller and challenger Douglass Johnson was a landslide win for the incumbent. Voters were looking for someone who was professional and could look towards a promising direction for the city. Mike Schweller presented himself as a professional and someone who could be trusted. Johnson’s late start campaign and limited resources were apparent in the election and coupled with his inexperience ultimately lead to his failure. The Mayor is largely a ceremonial position; however, they are responsible for moderating debate during council meetings and have influence over the proceedings of the council.
As the two levies were renewals, none faced strong opposition ultimately leading to their overwhelming passage by the electorate.
There are some new people and old people on the board and city government. They bring with them different experiences and ambitions for their plans with regard to their position. The School Board will primarily focus on solving its issues with funding as well as finding ways to improve the Special Ed program and overall quality of education. The City Council will seek to expand on the Downtown Restoration Project and heavily scrutinize the needs for the Little Sugarcreek Road repair as well as secure funding for the repairs.