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Election preparation and interesting races

Because of deadlines, reporters write outlines of election stories before the results come in.

That’s what I did before Tuesday’s election.

Uncertain about what would happen in Youngstown’s 7th Ward council seat, I wrote two scenarios for the city council article.

I wrote that it was a Democrat sweep with the assumption that Councilwoman Basia Adamczak won in the 7th Ward and another with Donald P. Scott becoming the first independent council candidate to be elected in 24 years.

Instead, there was a tie.

A tie? A tie!

When I received the results at the Mahoning County Board of Elections, I pointed out the results in the 7th Ward to various election workers. It took a while for it to register with them. It also took a while for it to register with the candidates.

I called Adamczak, who said she was in shock and to give her a few minutes to think it over. We spoke again and there wasn’t much more she could add to her earlier comments.

Scott initially didn’t understand what I was saying. He then got it and, like Adamczak, had a difficult time getting out the words needed to express his surprise.

Most of the time when I speak to candidates on election night, I’m breaking the news about their victory or their defeat. This was the first time I told candidates they tied and I’ve been covering elections for more than 30 years.

The tie will be broken after provisional ballots are counted.

It really does prove that every vote counts — and unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of votes to count.

Turnout in this election in Mahoning County was 26.4 percent. It was 30 percent in Trumbull County.

Election officials in both counties essentially nailed it with their predictions. The expectation was 25 percent to 28 percent in Mahoning and 25 percent to 30 percent in Trumbull.

As for Youngstown’s 7th Ward council race, turnout was only 19.66 percent. Of the 5,769 registered voters in that ward, 1,134 voted in that race.

That’s got to sting for the two candidates.

There were several other interesting takeaways from Tuesday’s election.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin proved that money isn’t always the answer when it comes to winning elections.

Randy Law, his opponent, received $117,963 in in-kind contributions as of Oct. 16 from America’s Tomorrow, a Marietta-based political action committee with Republican ties. The money went toward television and radio commercials, online ads, mailers and consultants. Franklin raised $13,845 as of Oct. 16.

Yet when the smoke cleared, it wasn’t a competitive race. Franklin captured 67.1 percent of the vote, winning by his largest margin for mayor in his successful third term.

The Niles school district never stops being colorful. Voters rejected three incumbent school board members, opting to go with three challengers among the nine people running.

With the district in state-mandated fiscal emergency since February, it’s somewhat strange that there were so many candidates seeking the seats.

In Austintown, David Ritchie ä first elected to the Austintown school board in November 1967, four months after I was born — lost his bid at a 14th four-year term. He is currently the longest-serving school board member in Ohio.

Ritchie as an Austintown school board member was such a given that there were probably people who assumed he’d win and didn’t vote for him. He finished a distant third — 889 votes behind Kimberly A. Smrek, the top vote-getter, and 446 less than Harold Porter, the other incumbent.

In Boardman, Trustee Larry Moliterno won a fourth four-year term, dominating a field of four candidates. He captured 53 percent of the vote despite several people upset with township officials about flooding issues in the township.

In Liberty, Jodi Stoyak, a 16-year incumbent trustee, lost to Devon Stanley, a political newcomer who had the backing of Trustee Arnie Clebone, who has clashed with Stoyak. Stanley captured 47.3 percent of the vote to 35.5 percent for Stoyak and 17.2 percent for Jason Masternick.

Skolnick covers politics for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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