By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green voters narrowed down the field of at-large council candidates in Tuesday’s primary election – leaving four women in the race.
Winning a place on the general election ballot were Democrats Holly Cipriani and Sandy Rowland, and Green Party candidates BeverlyAnn Elwazani and Carolyn S. Kawecka.
A total of 10 candidates had filed for the two open at-large council seats. Running for the seats were four Democrats, four Green Party members, one Republican and one Independent.
Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections, said this is the first time the Green Party has had enough candidates to warrant a primary ballot in Bowling Green.
None of the ward seats were contested in the primary election.
The primary election whittled down the at-large race to a maximum of two candidates from each party.
Following are the unofficial vote counts for the Democratic at-large candidates:
- Holly Cipriani: 423
- Mark Hollenbaugh: 412
- Robert Piasecki: 266
- Sandy Rowland: 1,001
Following are the unofficial vote counts for the Green Party at-large candidates:
- Helen Kay Dukes: 29
- BeverlyAnn Elwazani: 41
- Carolyn S. Kawecka: 31
- Rosamond L. McCallister: 20
Voters will elect two at-large candidates in the November election from the choices of Democrats Cipriani and Rowland, Green Party Elwazani and Kawecka, Republican Greg Robinette and Independent Nathan Eberly.
One council member from each of the city’s four wards will also be elected in November. Following are the Democratic and Republican candidates who have filed for those seats. No Green candidates filed for the ward seats.
- First Ward: Democrat Daniel J. Gordon, Republican Ryan A. Rothenbuhler.
- Second Ward: Democrat John Zanfardino, Republican Kent Ramsey.
- Third Ward: Democrat Michael Aspacher, running unopposed.
- Fourth Ward: Democrat Scott W. Seeliger, Republican William J. Herald.
Rowland, the only winner in the primary with council experience, emerged as the top vote getter on Tuesday. If re-elected, she plans to focus on the city’s neighborhood improvement plan and helping the city general fund recover.
“I want to boost our general fund through economic development,” she said.
“And I’m excited to see the green space become a reality in our town,” Rowland said.
In addition to serving on City Council, Rowland served on the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission when efforts were made to secure rights for LGBT residents in the community. She is a full-time Realtor with the Danberry Co. Prior to that, she was a regional director for the Humane Society of the U.S. for 27 years.
Rowland volunteers for the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Project Connect, Classics on Main, BG Art Walk, Not In Our Town, and Winterfest.
“I’m very excited about having a strong campaign,” for the fall, with plans to go door-to-door in the city. “I have faith. I have worked very hard for my community,” she said. “I hope people recognize this so I’m allowed to continue.”
The other Democrat to win Tuesday, Cipriani said one of her main focuses will be to help revitalize local businesses.
“I want to find ways to boost our small businesses in Bowling Green,” she said. “They bring so much character to our town.”
Another goal is to work on revitalizing neighborhoods. “I want to encourage residents to take care of their properties,” and landlords to do the same.
These two focuses could help attract more young professionals to the city, and convince them to stay here, Cipriani said.
She also vowed to be a council member who actively supports the city’s welcoming initiative. “I do believe we need to be a community where all feel welcome.”
Cipriani has lived in Bowling Green for 12 years, and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s in public administration from BGSU. As a graduate student, she partnered with the Bowling Green Economic Development Office to create a “shop local” campaign for the city.
She currently works at BGSU as an academic advisor, and has held previous positions in financial aid. She has also served as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence at the Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center, and has continued her work in the social service field as an advocate for survivors of human trafficking at Advocating Opportunity.
Now with the primary out of the way, Cipriani said she plans to continue attending City Council meetings and canvassing neighborhoods. She would also like to meet with constituents in all four wards.
The top vote getter on the Green ticket was Elwazani. If elected in November, she would like to see Bowling Green increase its “greenness” by encouraging a reduction in landfill waste from larger businesses and the schools.
In addition to encouraging more recycling, Elwazani would also like to see community-wide composting.
Elwazani said she is committed to listening to constituents. “I am really willing to listen to everyone and anyone in the community.”
She has lived in Bowling Green for 25 years, and has been a Girl Scout leader, Horizon Youth Theater volunteer, and basketball and soccer coach. She has also volunteered with the BG Christian Food Pantry. Elwazani has worked for Connecting Point, an organization that helps runaways; Zepf Mental Health Care Center as assistant to the director; and the Epilepsy Center teaching daily living skills.
Elwazani is excited about the possibility of the Green Party having a seat on City Council.
“I think it has a lot to offer Bowling Green,” she said of the Green Party. “I have to rally the troops and make a concerted effort to win.”
The other Green Party candidate to win the primary, Kawecka, could not be reached.