By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Voters will make plenty of critical decisions about their city, township or school system leadership today in an election with only one statewide issue on the ballot.
On State Issue 1, Ohio voters will decide whether the state should borrow $500 million to pay for the balance of Gov. Bob Taft's $1.6 billion "Third Frontier Project" to bolster high-tech industry.
In Cincinnati, voters will elect nine City Council members to two-year terms from a field of 26, which includes eight of the nine incumbents.
In the suburbs, voters will select councils, mayors, township trustees and school board members. A handful of communities will make decisions that could radically alter their size, or type of government. Here is a final look at key races and issues:
The only countywide issue is the five-year 0.4-mill replacement levy to generate $6.2 million annually for operating the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. It's a reduction from the 0.42-mill levy that expires at the end of this year.
School funding issues are on the ballot in two suburbs. In Mount Healthy, where a 6.95-mill operating levy would erase a projected $1.7 million deficit next year by generating $2.2 million; and in Mariemont, where a 5.5-mill operating levy would generate about $1.5 million annually.
Former Gov. John J. Gilligan seeks re-election to the Cincinnati Board of Education, along with six other candidates for three seats.
In the crowded Sycamore Board of Education race, incumbents Pat Raffel and Charlie Wilfong are among seven candidates seeking two seats.
The hottest township trustee races are in Delhi, where 24-year incumbent Nicholas LaScalea is being challenged by Al Duebber for a four-year term. Four others - including Kevin Rhodes, son of former trustee and Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes - are seeking to fill the unexpired term of Ann Langdon.
North Bend residents are being asked whether to dissolve the historic river village (population 603) to become part of Miami Township.
In the only countywide issue, Butler County Children Services is asking voters to approve a five-year, 2-mill replacement levy to provide $6 million a year for existing services, and to restore some others cut in the past year.
In West Chester Township, there is a four-way contest for trustee with incumbent David Tacosik pitted against challengers George Lang, Tyrone Sims and Daniel Wagner. West Chester residents also will see a five-year, 1.95-mill park levy increase that will help fund $60 million in park improvements.
Voters in Monroe, facing a budget deficit that could exceed $1 million next year, will decide whether to raise the city income tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent. Four council members also will be elected.
In the crowded Fairfield City Council races, three incumbents for the four ward seats - Mike Snyder, Jeff Holtegel and Steve Miller - face challengers.
Aging Middletown schools would be replaced with a $75.8 million bond issue. It would fund construction of six elementary schools, and renovations at two others.
The future of Oxford's Talawanda City Schools could be determined by voters filling three school board seats from among seven candidates. Some of those candidates favor splitting the rural townships into their own school district.
Lebanon voters are considering two five-year financial issues - the renewal of a 2-mill permanent improvement school levy, and an increase in the city's fire levy from 4.5 to 5.5 mills to build a second fire station and hire more firefighters.
Mason voters will elect at least two new representatives to City Council, as term limits prevent Vice Mayor Jim Fox and former Mayor Dick Staten from seeking office again. Charlene Pelfrey is the only incumbent running for three seats in a field of seven.
In Deerfield Township, the hottest race is between trustee candidates William Morand and Lee Speidel. Last week, incumbent Morand complained to the Ohio Elections Commission about Speidel's campaign literature, and Speidel was charged with criminal mischief over the removal of a Morand yard sign.
Franklin city and township residents will decide whether to create a commission to study a merger of the two governments, a proposal fueled by Middletown's continued annexation into Warren County.
For the third time in three years, the county's Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities is asking voters to approve a 0.75-mill operating levy to provide $2.7 million annually over the next five years.
Voters will elect the first countywide municipal clerk of courts in a race between Tim Rudd and Chris King. Incumbent Municipal Court Judges Thomas Herman and James Shriver face challenges from Anthony Brock and Ronald Mason.
Growth issues are on the Batavia Township ballot, with referendums on zoning changes for subdivisions proposed for 99 acres near Amelia-Olive Branch and Judd roads, and on 89 acres between Apple Road and Ohio 132.
In Milford, seven candidates are vying for four City Council seats, while three people are running for two Milford school board positions.
Some voting information
Phone numbers, Web sites
For general voting information, such as where you should vote, contact the boards of elections in your county:
Butler County: 887-3700. Web site: www.butlercountyohio.org/elections
Clermont County: 732-7275. Web site: www.clermontelections.org
Hamilton County: 632-7000. Web site: www.hamilton-co.org/boe
Warren County: 925-1358; 695-1358 in Lebanon. Web site: www.co.warren.oh.us/bdelec
Ohio polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
If you have an absentee ballot but have not yet returned it to your board of elections, you must do so by 7:30 p.m. today.
Projections for turnout of registered voters for Tuesday, according to Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's office:
Bronson: Riverfront still stuck in the mud
Good things happening
Korte: Inside City Hall
Voters deciding on levies, leaders
Officials to monitor election
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