The proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing inside Youngstown city limits, despite a defeat at the polls Tuesday, gained some percentage points and narrowed the gap from a defeat in May.
But the numbers from Election Day aren't concerning an industry group that supports oil and natural gas drilling in Ohio, a spokesman for which says the 4 percent gain in support of the ban can be attributed to the ''politics of the election.''
Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, instead pointed to raw vote numbers, which show the issue received about 1,900 more votes against changing the city's charter than the issue did six months ago.
Chadsey said the mayoral race was ''the game changer,'' and drove more voters to the polls on Tuesday compared to May. Also, there was a countywide ballot issue that may have brought more voters out, Chadsey said.
Unofficial returns from the Mahoning County Board of Elections show what's called the ''Community Bill of Rights'' going down, 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent. Results from May were 56.8 percent against the charter amendment and 43.1 percent for it.
FrackFree Mahoning Valley, the anti-fracking group that brought the charter change proposals, plans another attempt next year.
Youngstown Community Bill of Rights:
2,912 votes 43.1 %
3,837 votes 56.8%
4,742 votes 45.1%
Susie Beiersdorfer, of the group's leaders, said Tuesday's outcome is a ''small victory'' and that people are becoming more ''aware'' and ''educated'' on the subject.
''We are just going to continue educating,'' Beiersdorfer said Wednesday. ''We have scientists, citizens that are researching this. This is what we know, this is not what we believe.''
Voters defeated a similar charter amendment in Bowling Green by about a 50 percent margin. However, voters in Oberlin approved the fracking ban.
Still, Chadsey said, that whether in Youngstown, Bowling Green or Oberlin, the charter amendments are ''ceremonial'' and ''at the end of the day, there is no policy implications,'' but the proposals ''send a bad message.'' That, in part, was what the opposition group members in Youngstown hung their hat on, that the amendment sent the wrong message to companies in the drilling industry that wanted to do business here.
Butch Taylor, business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, which put up money to fight the amendment, called the measure a ''jobs killer.''
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has sole authority to regulate the industry, Chadsey said.