New voting machines come with hefty price tags

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Wood County got its first touchscreen voting machines, many people feared they were too old-fashioned to keep up with the new voting technology. But now, after 11 years of elections, it’s the voting machines themselves that are considered obsolete. Across Ohio, county boards of elections are facing the challenge of replacing their aging voting machines with newer, expensive technology. The price tag to replace Wood County’s touchscreen voting stations is between $3.8 and $4.2 million. Counties and election boards have been working with the state legislature and secretary of state to get help footing the bill. “This is a great need across the state,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “The implications statewide and nationally are incredible.” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton presented the news to the county commissioners on Tuesday. “He told us the end is in sight and we need to prepare,” Kalmar said. The first touchscreen voting machines were purchased as part of the Help America Vote Act after the infamous “hanging chad” drama in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The electronic touchscreen systems were purchased to prevent the uncertainty of punchcard voting. The initial touchscreen units cost $1.2 million – with federal funds paying for at least 80 percent of the price, Kalmar said. Kalmar is banking on the legislature helping this time around. The topic has been before the state for a while. “That has been the discussion for the last two years,” Burton said. Heavy duty lobbying is underway to get some money out of the state’s next budget cycle, he said. “Everybody’s equipment is aging out,” Burton said. “We’re not in this alone. We need to lobby the state like heck.” The goal is to roll out the new systems in the May primary in 2019. “That way it’s not a primary election for governor or president,” Kalmar said. Wood County officials are also hoping the next updated systems will function similarly to the current ones. “Now people know what to do,” Kalmar said. Burton agreed. “The voters seem very comfortable with it. Our goal is to mimic the system we have now,” he said. Kalmar praised the board of elections for making the current touchscreen systems last as long as they have. “Our board of elections has been very vigilant in maintaining the equipment they have and keeping it in good working order.” Burton said the Wood County elections office has been able to swap out parts from surplus machines to keep enough units running. The local touchscreen systems are functioning well enough to keep them in use, Burton added, but “we want to transition over when state money becomes available. We want to take advantage of that.” Wood County Board of Elections has 620 electronic touchscreen units, though just 480 are put in use for elections. About 100 were received through a Cuyahoga County elections lawsuit settlement. The county has asked for 508 new ones. Burton hopes the estimated cost around $4 million is more than the actual cost. “I’m hoping this is the high end,” he said.

Gubernatorial hopeful Jon Husted stomps at Spots

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Secretary of State Jon Husted is a great believer in technology. That’s what allowed him to cut the cost of operating his office at a time when state spending was on the rise. That’s what allowed him cut the state’s incorporation fee from $125 to $99. That’s what let him to cut the workforce in his office by a third – through early retirement and attrition, he explained. His 7-year-old daughter will not have to learn to drive, he said, because she’ll come of age in a time of self-operating vehicles. And Husted wants to be in the driver’s seat in Ohio as it enters the age of driverless cars. The Republican candidate for governor was in Bowling Green Monday morning at a meet and greet with citizens at Mr. Spot’s, hosted by Ohio Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and her husband, Jim Gavarone Theresa Gavarone used the occasion to formally announce her endorsement of Husted. She said she’s backing Husted to replace Republican John Kasich because in her tough fight to win her seat last fall, he stepped in and helped her. She also said she appreciated his cutting filing fees for new businesses and reducing the cost of running his office by $14.5 million. Husted said that people may not like change but it is coming. “We want to make sure every generation of people who graduate from Bowling Green have opportunities in Ohio. “The states that get this right are going to be the ones that are going to win, and the states that don’t are going to fall behind,” he said. “It’s very important for us that we get this right.” The future offers opportunities, but that requires education “because education in life is the great equalizer. … The next generation of Ohioans is going to be tested like no generation before.” While technology may displace workers in some areas, it will create more opportunities. He pointed to his office where outsourcing its call center to the Cleveland Center for the Blind provided those people with new job opportunities. “It’s about how we use our trade schools, how we use our educational systems to make sure the next generation is prepared for those challenges.” Asked by Sue Larimer about how he’d approach the “conundrum” of school funding, he said the key was to grow the economy. Greater prosperity will mean more money to invest in education. Using technology, as private industry does, to reduce the cost of state bureaucracy will also generate money for education. “I can’t think of a better return than education,” Husted said. Later asked about he’d approach funding for higher education, Husted said, “we certainly need to make college more affordable.” But, he added, “spend, spend, spend is not the answer.” Asked about specifics of how to make college more affordable, he said the state needs to expand the College Credit Plus program by making it a priority to have more students earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school. Students who earn those college credits are more likely to stay and pursue their educations in Ohio. He did not directly answer how any expansion should be funded. (See related story at: http://bgindependentmedia.org/college-credit-plus-doesnt-always-add-up/) Husted evoked the promise of technology when addressing the…

Overall voter turnout 11.2% for local primary election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voter turnout in Wood County for Tuesday’s primary election was a weak 11.2 percent. That means nearly 90 percent of the registered voters left the fate of the Bowling Green City School’s income tax renewal and the city council candidate race up to the few people who showed up at the polls. Of the 38,424 registered voters in the areas of Wood County with items on the ballot, just 4,302 voted. The low turnout means that two Green Party candidates made it into the November election by getting just 41 and 31 votes. It’s not that voters didn’t have opportunities to cast their ballots. Early voting was offered 30 days prior to Tuesday’s election. The Wood County Board of Elections was open every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The week prior to the election, the hours were extended to 7 p.m., and the office was open last Saturday and Sunday for voters. The exact voter turnout in Bowling Green is not calculated by the board of elections, since the primary election had issues in Bowling Green, the Bowling Green school district area, Henry Township, Jerry City, Tontogany, and Rossford school district. But it is known that overall, the turnout was 11.2 percent. “That’s a pretty low percentage,” even for a primary election, said Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. The turnout in some ways is disappointing to Burton. “The democracy side of me says I wish people participated in the process,” he said. “We go through the same process, no matter how many vote.” The last time Bowling Green had a primary election for local candidates was in the 1990s, Burton said. “So it’s kind of hard to have a baseline.” Judging voter apathy in Bowling Green is also difficult for a couple reasons. First, the Republican party had no competition in council primary races. So Republicans may have been less motivated to show up at the polls. Second, the vote totals in the Democratic and Green Party council races don’t necessarily add up to the number of voters, since citizens were allowed to vote for two candidates – but some may have chosen to vote for just one. The turnout was so low that the small vote margins between council candidates did not trigger automatic recounts, Burton said. Though the provisional ballot still need to be added in, and some outstanding absentee ballots postmarked before Monday may still straggle in, it is very unlikely that a recount will be required, Burton said. In the Democratic race for Bowling Green City Council, Sandy Rowland was the clear top vote getter with 1,001 votes. The slim 11 vote margin between the next two candidates – Holly Cipriani with 423 votes and Mark Hollenbaugh with 412 votes – is not enough to challenge with an automatic recount. The formula for figuring recounts would have required a gap of five or few votes to make the recount automatic. It’s mathematically possible, but highly unlikely that the small number of provisional and outstanding absentee votes will trigger a recount, Burton said. The Green Party tallies were even closer, with BeverlyAnn Elwazani the lead vote getter with 41 votes followed by Carolyn Kawecka with 31 votes. Close behind was Helen Kay…

BG at-large council primary puts 4 women in race

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…

BG Schools income tax renewal passes by wide margin

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters easily passed a 0.5 percent income tax renewal for Bowling Green City School current expenses for five years on Tuesday. The unofficial vote was 1,937 to 647 – giving the district a victory with 75 percent. “I’m very humbled and appreciative of the community support,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said after the votes were tallied. “I think it speaks volumes about how our community looks at our schools and what we do. This will allow us to do what we do in the classroom.” But Scruci said Tuesday’s solid support should not be taken for granted. It cannot be translated as support for the school district’s next venture at the polls for new or renovated buildings, he said. The income tax for the district began in January of 1993 and has been renewed every five years since. It makes up 11 percent of the district’s general fund revenue, generating $3.34 million annually. The issue was the first on the ballot since Scruci became Bowling Green’s superintendent nearly two years ago. Though any election victory is a good victory, Scruci said he was very pleased with the margin of the votes. “I think it really does speak to the amount of support we have in the community,” he said. “And at the day’s end, the winners are the kids.” However, Scruci cautioned that Tuesday’s victory does not mean the district can count on voters passing a levy for new or renovated school buildings. “I don’t think you can compare the two,” he said of the renewal levy and a new tax issue. “I don’t think you can draw a parallel. They are two different things.” The board will be meeting for a couple workshops later this month to discuss the district’s building options. “We will talk about what direction we’re going to go,” Scruci said. For more than a year now, school officials have been gathering input from the community on which building options they support. The board will soon have to decide whether to put a levy on the ballot in November or next May. And they will have to decide whether to seek funding to build new buildings, renovate existing buildings, or some combination of both. Scruci is hoping voters will be supportive at the polls for the building issue as well. “As long as you keep open lines of communication and are transparent,” the public is likely to understand the need, said Scruci, who has held many public meetings on the building options. “I think we’ve developed a culture here. We’ve put everything out on the table.” Ultimately, he wants to see the district to do what’s best for the kids. “Our parents give us their most valued assets.”

School tax & Rowland win big in primary

The Bowling Green School District income tax renewal has passed overwhelmingly. With 100 percent of the vote in, the income tax is ahead 75 percent (1,939 votes) to 25 percent (647). Sandy Rowland easily outpaced a four-candidate field for two Democratic spots for council at large on the November ballot. Her 1001 votes were more than twice her nearest competitor. Holly Cipriani held a slim 11-vote lead over third place candidate Mark Hollenbaugh, 423-411. Robert Piasecki with 266 votes came in fourth. A first-ever Green Party primary for the council at large drew 123 voters. Beverly Ann Elwazani was the top Green votegetter with 41 votes. Carolyn S. Kawecka with 32 and Helen Kay Dukes with 30 were neck and neck for the second Green line. Rosamond L. McCallis received 20 votes.

Nathan Eberly files for at-large city council as independent

Submitted by NATHAN EBERLY At the deadline for Independent candidates for City Council At-Large, Nathan Eberly has submitted petitions to the Board of Elections for verification in hoeps of being certified to appear on the November 2017 ballot. The November General Election is expected to have at  least six candidates with Eberly joining the race in official status, pending verification and certification by the Board of Elections. Nathan Eberly is a Financial Representative with Modern Woodmen of America here in Bowling Green. Eberly is a volunteer for several organizations in town including the Brown Bag Food Project, the Wood County Humane Society, Wood Lane Levy Committee, and others. He is a member of the Exchange Club of Bowling Green and has been an active volunteer for a range of projects. Further, Eberly is very involved and active in the Chamber of Commerce, assisting the Business Council, Governmental Affairs Committee, and ACT BG. In December 2016 Eberly, seeing a need for an organization focused on young professionals including BGSU graduates and students, formed the Bowling Green Young Professionals Association. The next step in the process is waiting for the certification of the petitions and the official adding of Eberly as an Independent candidate on the November General Election ballot. This will come after the Primary Election for tomorrow, May 2, and along side the election certification process for the election results. Eberly is holding a Coffee with the Candidate chat May 12 between 7:30m and 9:30 a.m. at Biggby Coffee in Bowling Green. This will be the fifth installment of the Coffee with the Candidate events that Eberly has held since his announcement of desire to run for Council in December 2016.

BG to vote on school renewal levy, council candidates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green voters will face a school tax, two liquor issues and a truckload of city council candidates when they cast ballots in the primary election next week on May 2. Bowling Green City School District will have a 0.5 percent income tax renewal for current expenses for five years. The income tax for the district began in January of 1993 and has been renewed every five years since. It makes up 11 percent of the district’s general fund revenue, generating $3.34 million annually. Superintendent Francis Scruci has stressed that the income tax issue is a renewal – not a new tax. Also on the ballot are several city council candidates. A total of 16 candidates have filed for the open seats. None of the ward seats will be contested in the primary election. However, filing for the two open at-large seats were four Democrats, four Green Party members, and one Republican. The deadline for filing for Independent candidates is May 1, too late to appear on a primary ballot. Nathan Eberly has indicated interest in running as an Independent. The primary election will narrow down the at-large race to a maximum of two candidates from each party. Since only one Republican filed, voters will be given the choice of ballots for the Democratic Party, the Green Party or for issues only. 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. Burton said the lack of a Republican ballot in the primary election may cause some confusion. But since the at-large Republican spot on the general election ballot is not contested, there is no need. Those voters can request ballots that have issues only. “That may cause some angst for people,” Burton said. And it may cause some voters to switch parties in the primary just so they can cast votes for some of the other candidates, he said. Filing for the two available at-large city council seats are the following candidates: Democrats: Holly Cipriani, Mark Hollenbaugh, Robert Piasecki and Sandy Rowland. Green Party: Helen Kay Dukes, BeverlyAnn Elwazani, Carolyn S. Kawecka and Rosamond L. McCallister. Republican: Gregory W. Robinette. One council member will also be elected in November from each of the city’s four wards. 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. Also on the ballot will be two liquor issues for Sunday sales between 10 a.m. and midnight at Bar 149 and at the Clazel. The Wood County Board of Elections is open for early voting for the primary election. Voters may cast their ballots Friday from 8 a.m. to  7 p.m., on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., and Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The board of elections is located in the Wood County Courthouse Complex.