Candidate pushed for funding for new voting machines

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Frank LaRose got a close-up look at the Wood County voting machines that will be replaced next year with funding he pushed through the Ohio Senate. Wood County’s 12-year-old touchscreen systems are faring better than voting machines in some counties, where spare parts have been scrounged up from Tractor Supply stores or paper clip stashes. “This is an investment for a long time with the state, so we have reliable, safe machines,” State Senator LaRose, the Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, said Thursday as he stopped in Bowling Green. Senate Bill 135, sponsored by LaRose, sets aside $114.5 million for new voting machines in Ohio. Wood County’s share is $1.3 million. The funding for the voting machines comes as the current systems get closer and closer to being obsolete. Wood County’s machines were built in 2006, said Terry Burton, director of the county board of elections.. “In the grand scheme of things, when you’re talking about technology,” the systems are almost antiques. Though Burton credits the local board of elections staff with babying the systems to keep them functioning well. “Every election, we see a little bit more wear and tear,” Burton said. “It’s time.” Wood County currently has 575 functional voting machines. Senate Bill 135 is intended to replace all the voting machines in the state – as long as county boards of election are satisfied with the “Chevrolets” and not the “Cadillacs” of voting machines, LaRose said. However, in Wood County, Burton said the $1.3 million from the state will be about $3 million shy of the total expected cost of $4.2 million. “It’s not going to cover it all,” Burton said. “I’ve looked at it all along as a helper. I’m not going to complain about getting $1.3 million.” Wood County Board of Elections doesn’t want the “Cadillac” of voting systems, but it doesn’t want the “Chevrolet” either, Burton said. “We’re looking for the SUV,” he said. “We’re looking for a system that’s hardy.” The total state funding is being divided up among counties based on the…

“Sandy always does her homework” -Marcy St. John

Four Democrat candidates will appear on the May 2 primary ballot for Bowling Green City Council. Voters will choose two of them to be the endorsed Democrat candidates for the two at-large Council positions which will be on the November 7 ballot. To my mind, Sandy Rowland is the strongest candidate for an at-large City Council seat. Sandy’s record of leadership and community involvement is decades-long and includes work on the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission and Not In Our Town Bowling Green [NIOT], both of which I worked on with her. She is an excellent choice to represent the community at large, because as a professional realtor, she is able to discern the needs and wants of her clients, who come from all walks of life. She knows how to listen and how to represent a diverse clientele. Sandy always does her homework–she’s visible throughout the community and she is on top of current issues. She asks BG residents about their concerns and she listens to their answers. She has been an outspoken supporter for our new Green Space and for the rejuvenation of East Side neighborhoods. She serves on the Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee for City Council, and she chairs Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. She has been a key player in the development and application of both Bowling Green’s Land Use Plan and its Community Action Plan [revitalizing the East Side]. Sandy knows how essential it is to make positive and ongoing changes in our city, and she has the skills to help keep these changes on course. It is Sandy Rowland’s goal to serve on an innovative and effective City Council for the betterment of our entire community. I encourage you to vote for her in the May 2 primary. Marcy St.John Bowling Green

‘Sandy Rowland has a special eye for ordinances that enhance our life experiences in BG’ – Diane Vogtsberger

I write to support the candidacy of Sandy Rowland for Council-at-Large. Sandy’s resume attests to her qualifications, but I would like to address her performance in support of projects that have made Bowling Green a better place to live and raise a family. Her volunteering at Black Swamp, BG Art Walk, Classics on Main, and Winterfest are just a few examples; there are many more. Perhaps the one I can speak to the most is the preservation of the green space, now referred to as Wooster Green. At every presentation given to Council in order to promote this town square, Sandy asked pertinent questions about its feasibility and indicated her support for such an endeavor. Overtime, as more information was presented, she became more of an advocate for the project. When the mayor announced the creation of the Task Force, she supported it wholeheartedly. And finally, when it came to a vote after the third reading of the resolution, she spoke enthusiastically about why it would be good for our community to embrace this opportunity. The resolution passed 7-0. I relay this story because I believe it reflects how much Sandy cares about providing the best possible community for all of us. Certainly, she and other council members can pass ordinances that govern, but she has a special eye for those that enhance our life experiences here in Bowling Green. Please join me in voting for Sandy Rowland in the primary on May 2. Diane Vogtsberger Bowling Green

“Holly Cipriani has the qualifications needed to lead Bowling Green on City Council” -Jakki Kleinhans

On May 2, voters will select two Democratic candidates to be endorsed for the two at-large positions on Bowling Green City Council. Holly Cipriani is the leader I want for City Council At Large. I fell in love with Bowling Green when I began my undergraduate career at BGSU. The small town feel with the big city opportunities make BG an amazing place to work, live, and raise my family. Cipriani has the Bowling Green values that make our city so exceptional. She is committed to making BG a better place for herself and other community members. Holly Cipriani has the qualifications needed to lead Bowling Green on City Council. After completing her Master of Public Administration at BGSU, she has devoted her time and energy to helping the community. From her years working as an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking to her involvement in the Civics 101 teach-in series, Cipriani continues to focus on ways to engage and uplift our community and its citizens. Cipriani’s vision of inclusion will continue to promote the safe and welcoming atmosphere which sets Bowling Green apart. Cipriani has dedicated her life to learning the newest, best, and most effective training in politics. She will continue to bring this knowledge and experience to serve on City Council and build Bowling Green upward and outward. I encourage you to cast your ballot for her in the primary. Sincerely, Jakki Kleinhans Bowling Green, OH

BGSU students feel hatred unleashed by election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The election season has unleashed a deep hatred that is causing many Bowling Green State University students to feel uncomfortable on campus and in the community. “I feel like I have to walk around with my head on a swivel,” said one African American student at a Town Hall held on campus Monday evening. “I shouldn’t feel like this. I paid to go here. I feel unsafe on this campus.” Students shaken by the results of last week’s election met to create a safe place to talk. They heard story after story of fear, anger and uncertainty of the future. Amira Hassnauoui, head of the Graduate Student Senate, could not hold back the tears as she talked about her decision to come to America from Tunisia. “This is not the America I signed up for when I left my homeland,” she said. “This is my new home. I am here, but I am not a citizen and that scares me.” Some of the anger was prompted by an attack reported by an African American student last week. On Facebook, the student reported she was attacked by a group of white males on Crim Street next to campus. Though students and faculty get emergency alerts for other incidents, many said they received no notice from the university and heard about the reported attack several days later. The students and faculty present demanded to know why they had not been informed through the normal alert system. Tom Gibson, vice president for student affairs and vice provost, explained that university officials found out about the incident through social media – it was not initially reported to campus or city police. Once university officials became aware, they contacted the victim and worked with her to report the incident to city police, he said. “We take these issues very, very seriously,” Gibson said. “I take these issues very, very seriously.” The university then sent an email communication out to students within 24 to 48 hours after the incident, he said. “It wasn’t as though we were reluctant.”…

Gavarone and Wicks face off for state rep seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The race for the statehouse has disappointed many Wood Countians with its nasty tone. To rise above that low road, this story looks at where the candidates stand on issues……. Two downtown Bowling Green business owners have set their sights on the state representative seat for Wood County. One shop sells coffee on South Main Street, and the other sells Philly steak sandwiches on North Main Street. But that’s where the similarities end. Theresa Gavarone, who joined her husband as co-owner of Mr. Spots in 2010, has been an attorney for 22 years, and has served on Bowling Green City Council for two and a half years. She was appointed by the Republican party to the state representative seat this past summer when Tim Brown stepped down. Kelly Wicks opened Grounds for Thought in 1989, and was selected by the Wood County Democratic Party to run for the vacated seat. He is one of the founders of the Black Swamp Arts Festival, served as past president of Downtown Business Association, on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Recycling Task Force. Gavarone sees reducing taxes and regulations as the road to bringing more business to Wood County. “We want to keep Wood County working,” and cutting regulations would make compliance easier for businesses, she said. “If we can bring businesses here and create an environment – that will allow them to thrive and grow.” During her stint on city council, Gavarone has said she helped bring 1,000 jobs to the city. “I was part of a team,” she said. Wicks doesn’t view regulations as the enemy, since many are there for purposes like keeping employees and the public safe. He does see ways, however, that red tape can be cut for businesses trying to get permits. “I’ve always tried to help create jobs in the community by helping new businesses,” he said. “As a small business owner, I’d like to be a voice for small businesses in Ohio.” Both candidates say they are capable for working across the aisle with the…

Bowlus, Kuhlman face-off for commissioner’s seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Safe water, a quality workforce, and the opiate epidemic top the list of concerns for Wood County Commissioner candidates Dr. Ted Bowlus and Joel Kuhlman. Both Bowlus, a Republican and podiatrist, and incumbent commissioner Kuhlman, a Democratic and attorney, grew up in the Pemberville area. The two are competing for one of the two open commissioner seats. Facing off for the other open seat are Democrat Ed Kolanko and Republican incumbent Craig LaHote, both from the northern end of Wood County. A story on that race will appear later. Kuhlman and Bowlus see the water issue as multi-faceted. There is the issue of Lake Erie’s “impaired designation” status, and the decision on water sources for the region. The commissioners have been asked to support an effort to have the Western Lake Erie Basin declared “impaired.” That designation would get the U.S. EPA involved in identifying the sources of the phosphorus creating the harmful algal blooms. Neither Bowlus nor Kuhlman are sold on the need for “impaired” status, though Kuhlman is more open to considering the designation. After sitting through a series of meetings on the issue, Kuhlman called the discussions “enlightening” and “confusing.” While parts of the western basin are already labeled as impaired, Kuhlman wants to delay the decision until more facts are gathered. Bowlus has made up his mind that the impairment status would do more harm than good. “I feel strongly we should not designate the lake as impaired,” he said. “The federal government will step in and the Army Corps of Engineers would dictate to us.” Bowlus also objected to the bulk of the blame being placed on farmers for the water quality problems. “It’s not just the farmers. It’s the antiquated septic systems. It’s the contributions from Detroit. The farmers are complying with the current regulations. How can we blame them?” Both candidates also believe the county needs to investigate alternative water sources identified in multiple studies. Kuhlman stressed the importance of three issues – reasonable water rates, voting rights for Wood County on the distribution process,…

Nearly 300 local absentee ballots get lost in the mail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Board of Elections sent out 10,229 absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election. Once they were placed in the mail, the board thought its work was done until the completed ballots were mailed back in. But then they started getting phone calls. Absentee ballots mailed out on Oct. 12 still hadn’t gotten to many voters – primarily those who lived out of state or in the North Baltimore and Fostoria areas. The voters were advised to wait a little bit, that the ballots were in the mail. It now appears many ballots made it to the Detroit mail sorting center in Pontiac, Michigan, but didn’t get any further than that. “Once we drop it in the mail, we lose control,” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said Saturday morning. “We rely on that system to do what it should.” “This happens in every election. It just happened a little bit more in this election,” Burton said. And Wood County is not alone. It appears that many absentee ballots from all over Northwest Ohio have not made it to their intended destinations. “What happened to those ballots? Where they got hung up, we don’t know,” Burton said. “While I would like to rail the postal system – and there may be a time for that – what we are focusing on now is correcting the problem.” So as of Saturday morning, the Wood County Board of Elections has reissued nearly 300 absentee ballots for those missing, and has suspended the initial ballots sent out. Each ballot has an absentee number, so the missing ones can be canceled and new ones issued. “So at least we can make sure they can vote,” Burton said. The majority of the initial absentee ballots went out without a hitch. Some residents in Bowling Green and Perrysburg reported “getting them practically overnight.” And as of Saturday morning, 5,279 completed absentee ballots had been returned to the board of elections. Some of the voters who called to report they hadn’t received absentee ballots have since…