The Portage County Board of Elections on Wednesday confirmed the results of two toss-up races from the Nov. 3 election, handing victories to the Portage County District Library and to the incumbent candidate for Charlestown Township trustee, Tim Patrick.
The results of both elections were close enough — within the 0.5% margin specified by Ohio law — to trigger an automatic recount. The library levy, Issue 1, passed by fewer than 100 votes in the final November results, and the recount confirmed this tally.
In the Charlestown race, the margin was a single vote. The recount on Wednesday confirmed this result in favor of Patrick over challenger Katie Pahls.
“We want to thank everyone who helped us along the way,” said Jonathan Harris, director of the library district. “Really there’s nothing quite like a recount to remind folks that every single vote matters. We’re glad that we had enough of them to get us over the line this time.”
Issue 1 is a 1-mill, 10-year property tax levy and represents the first-ever local tax on Portage County residents to support the library system. The levy will be used to provide a stable base of funding for the library’s continued operating expenses, including restoring hours and increasing services and materials at existing branches. The district has libraries in Aurora, Garrettsville, Streetsboro, Randolph and Windham.
A portion of the library district is in Summit County and, as of the end of business on Dec. 1, the Portage County Board of Elections had not yet received their recount results. While it’s theoretically possible the result of the recount may change the total, Nielsen said she presumes their recount results will be similar to those of Portage County.
The passing of Issue 1 comes after 11 previous election defeats.
Harris said meetings are being planned as early as next week to discuss plans for the future.
“We’ve got some basic ideas of what direction we’re going in for the future,” he said. “That’s more hours at all of our branches, bookmobile services to areas that don’t have branches and getting another branch in somewhere. Those are the broad strokes things that we already knew we were going to do with the money.”
Harris said they are going to have to figure out the “nuts and bolts” in terms of implementing some of the new resources and services mentioned, and some of that is going to take time. For example, the library district can’t offer more hours until it has more people available to work those shifts. But ideally, they would like to implement these changes as soon as possible.
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that we hit the ground running so we can make good on these promises sooner rather than later,” he said. “It’s just something that’s naturally going to take a little bit of time.”
Harris said the library district had been attending community meetings for all nine school districts they cover — all 16 townships, four villages and both cities — since July 1 to raise awareness for the levy.
“I’m really looking forward to doing that same trip all around the county in a year or so to show everybody the cool stuff we’re doing with it,” he said.
In the Charlestown Township trustee race, Patrick was ahead of Pahls by one vote. Pahls trailed by two votes in the original tally before absentee and provisional ballots were counted.
Although she did not win the trustee election, Pahls is optimistic about running again.
“I know it’s a loss, but to lose by just one vote to an incumbent trustee, who has been the trustee for as long as he has, doesn’t feel like a loss — it feels like a sign to take the chance to run again in the next election,” Pahls said in an email. “I was really hoping to win, but I will run again and hopefully get elected.”
Patrick could not be reached for comment.