By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green voters elected six City Council members from a field of 13 on Tuesday. Despite the busy ballot, there will be no big changes on council.
Four incumbents were returned to their seats. The other two winners had previously served on council years ago. The make-up of council will now be five Democrats and two Republicans.
And still, only one seat is held by a woman. That woman, Sandy Rowland was the top vote getter in the race for at-large candidates.
Following is a list of the vote tallies for the council candidates, with the winners in bold.
The unofficial vote totals for the At-Large race are:
- Holly Cipriani (Democrat): 1,958 (21 percent)
- Nathan Eberly (Independent): 936 (10 percent)
- Beverly Elwazani (Green): 717 (7 percent)
- Carolyn Kawecka (Green): 265 (3 percent)
- Gregory Robinette (Republican): 2,680 (28 percent)
- Sandy Rowland (Democrat): 2,971 (31 percent)
First Ward unofficial totals:
- Daniel Gordon (Democrat): 254 (76 percent)
- Hunter Sluss (Republican): 79 (24 percent)
Second Ward unofficial totals:
- Kent Ramsey (Republican): 248 (32 percent)
- John Zanfardino (Democrat): 531 (68 percent)
Third Ward unopposed race:
- Michael Aspacher (Democrat): 1,274 (100 percent)
Fourth Ward unofficial totals:
- William Herald (Republican): 1,470 (52 percent)
- Scott Seeliger (Democrat): 1,358 (48 percent)
At-large winner Rowland said she was honored to get the top voter support. “It’s all about Bowling Green and the people who support me,” she said. “For six years, I’ve listened to the people. They put me here and I am humbled and honored, and I have a big burden to serve them the next four years.”
The other at-large winner, Robinette, previously served on City Council in 2011. He had to step down when he was deployed overseas. “It’s an honor and privilege to again serve the citizens of Bowling Green,” he said Tuesday night after the election results were counted.
Robinette said as he campaigned across the community, he heard many positive statements about the city. “When I did go door-to-door and talked to people, I got a lot of positive responses,” he said. “Most people in town are really very happy with what is going on in Bowling Green.”
The other Republican elected to council, Herald, unseated Scott Seeliger who was appointed to the Fourth Ward seat earlier this year. Herald also previously served on council, from 1984 to 1991.
“Some people remembered that I was on council and remembered that I had helped them,” Herald said.
While campaigning, he knocked on 3,242 doors, and took time to listen to residents’ concerns, he said. “People saw the amount of work I put in and that I really wanted to serve.”
Herald also thinks it helped that he continued to attend City Council and other city governmental meetings even when he was no longer on council. He estimated that he has faithfully attended council meetings for a third of his life. “I think that resonated with people.”
On the east side of town, in the First and Second wards, incumbent Democrats Gordon and Zanfardino both easily beat their Republican competition.
Gordon said voters continue to support his platform. “I first ran in 2011 on a basic premise” of improving neighborhoods, working on transportation, and bettering the relationship between the city and campus. “I wanted to chart out a vision for Bowling Green that takes us into the 21st century.”
That resonates with his First Ward constituents. “What the average person in Bowling Green cares about is that their council member cares about them,” Gordon said.
Zanfardino said his Second Ward constituents seem to appreciate his engagement with the community. He was inspired by the campus candidate forum held last month. “We don’t hear from them enough,” he said of the BGSU population in his ward. “I want to reach out to the students.”
Zanfardino said he is particularly interested in rental housing issues that seem to be a big concern for students. “I’m definitely going to pursue that,” he said.
This year’s City Council ballot for the first time included two Green Party members. Though neither won, Green Party leader Joe DeMare said just being on the ballot was important.
“We were very proud we were able to offer the people of Bowling Green a choice,” DeMare said. “We presented a different vision of what Bowling Green can do. We knocked on a lot of doors and talked to a lot of people.”
The Green candidates, Elwazani and Kawecka, both felt that running as women was also important. “Gender representation isn’t equal,” with only one woman on the seven-member council, Kawecka said.
“It’s important that we continue to push forward as women and Green Party representatives,” Elwazani said.