Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Ohio election briefs

MRDD levy winning

As a mother of an autistic child, Judy Newport, 49, of Madeira said supporting the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities levy was a priority.

"MRDD provides critical services," Newport said.

A majority of Hamilton County voters seemed to agree. With 63 percent of 1,013 precincts reporting, voters were approving the MRDD levy, 62 percent to 38 percent.

If approved, the five-year levy will generate $338 million for MRDD. The agency has experienced a 43 percent increase in enrollment over the past five years and has said it needs the additional revenue to serve its clients - many of whom are living much longer lives.

The levy would also increase annual taxes on a $100,000 home by $30.90.

Largest turnout expected

DOWNTOWN - Election officials in Hamilton County and Ohio were expecting the largest voter turnout since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush 12 years ago.

John Williams, director of Hamilton County Board of Elections, had predicted a 76 percent turnout in the county, which would mean that about 434,000 voters went to the polls Tuesday.

Ohio Secretary J. Kenneth Blackwell had predicted that 72 percent of Ohio's nearly 8 million voters would cast ballots Tuesday. There was substantial evidence around the state that his prediction might be low.

Voter turnout in Ohio dipped in the last two presidential contests - 63.7 percent in 2000 and 67.4 percent in 1996.

In 1992, when Clinton carried Ohio, 77 percent of the electorate went to the polls.

Security tight downtown

DOWNTOWN - Security at the Hamilton County Board of Elections Tuesday night was strict and unprecedented.

For the first time, everyone who passed through the front door of the building at 824 Broadway - election officials, media, politicians and voters - had to pass through an airport-style magnetometer.

Cincinnati police officers were posted outside the front door. Inside, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies waved wands over everyone who set off the magnetometer.

Hamilton County Elections Director Tim Burke said the increased security was a local decision. "It's just a matter of keeping the place safe because of all the Homeland Security issues we have in this country," he said.

Property tax hot button

PLEASANT RIDGE - Jocelyn Stewart doesn't like paying taxes, but she sees her tax money at work whenever an ambulance passes her on the street or when her trash is picked up outside her home.

That's why Stewart voted against Issue 4, a proposal to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the city's 5-mill property tax over the next 10 years. Stewart wasn't alone. With 72 percent of Cincinnati's 376 precincts reporting, voters were rejecting the charter amendment, 52 percent to 48 percent.

A vote on the tax, which now costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 per year, was forced when Republican activists collected more than 6,771 signatures on a petition to place the charter amendment on the ballot. Elimination of the tax would cost the city more than $30 million a year by 2014, and could result in cuts of already strained police, fire and public services budgets.

LaChelle Jackson, 25, of Pleasant Ridge voted in favor of Issue 4 because of her family's strained budget. But she struggled with the decision. "I wanted to say yes and no on that one. I know the city needs the money, but I was thinking about my parents and how much they struggled with their taxes."

Avondale school issue

AVONDALE - Vicki Price, 37, of Avondale voted for Issue 32, the Cincinnati School District levy renewal. "I just feel like the kids deserve more," Price said. Price, who works in the cafeteria at Losantiville School, has two children at Rockdale Academy in Avondale. She said the schoolchildren don't have enough books or supplies.

The five-year levy renewal, which was being approved in early returns, 60 percent to 40 percent, would raise $65 million a year, pay for teacher salaries, textbooks, supplies and other operating costs. The annual cost to an owner of a home valued at $100,000 is $299.

After the vote, the party

NORTHSIDE - Rainy weather didn't dampen the political partying in Northside. By nightfall more than 100 people gathered at the neighborhood's first Northside Community Celebrates Voting, a big-tent shindig at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Lingo Street that featured eight live bands, and food and games from 50 corporate and neighborhood sponsors.

The party's organizer is Heather Sturgill, a University of Cincinnati urban studies junior who uses a power wheelchair since an auto accident in 2000 left her with limited use of her hands and no use of her legs or torso.

"Voting is a cause for celebration," she said. "This is the normal, everyday person's chance at directing their government. It's a great thing to be celebrated, not taken for granted."

Tough road for police, fire

DELHI TOWNSHIP -Trustee Mike Davis can't remember a time when Delhi Township voters defeated a police or fire levy. But Tuesday night, two levies that would have raised property taxes by $245 a year on a $100,000 house were rejected.

A 4.55-mill fire services levy went down, 57 percent to 43 percent. The fire levy would have generated more than $2 million and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $134 more a year.

Voters also rejected a 3.77-mill police services levy, 57 percent to 43 percent. The police levy would have generated $1.73 million a year and cost an additional $111 a year.

"I hate to say it but people will lose their jobs," Davis said. "For every action there is a reaction and certainly, we will have to act with some cuts."

XU students get out the vote

EVANSTON - The Gallagher Student Center, the polling place on Xavier University's campus, was crowded at times Tuesday, particularly during the change of classes. Lines swelled to about 100 students around 4 p.m., when classes ended, said Alex Kenney, president of the Xavier University Patriots, a nonpartisan voter group.

"The lines were so long, people had to go outside in the rain," he said.

Enquirer reporters Kevin Aldridge, Howard Wilkinson, Dan Klepal, Denise Amos and Jennifer Mrozowski contributed.

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Ohio election briefs
Ohio Issue 1 passes
Turnout heavy in suburbs
MU students hit the polls
Cincinnati school levy passes
Hospital tax leading despite opposition
Clermont County: Republicans remain choice in early count
Clermont County tax issues: Long lines delay counting
Fairfield levy passes
Butler commission: All incumbents being returned
Butler levies: Support strong for health, social care funding
Butler County Sheriff: Jones likely successor to Gabbard
Heavy turnout, long lines delay vote count
Kings levy passes by slim margin
Indiana governor: Daniels prevails after tough, costly slugfest
Ballot misprint may affect Ind. school board race

Alexandria: Voters stick with City Council's six incumbents
Bellevue City Council: Two incumbents losing seats with 4 of 5 precincts counted
Covington: Sanders and Stricker joining City Commission
Campbell County: Ward holds on to retain seat on Circuit Court
Florence City Council: One newcomer, five incumbents win seats
Independence: Four who opposed insurance tax win
Newport: Mayor, all four on council will be keeping their seats
Suburban schools: Campbell, other area boards get fresh faces
Villa Hills, Taylor Mill: Taxes to fix, replace city streets rejected
Urban schools: Newcomer ousts incumbent, snags Newport board seat
N. Ky. election briefs
Popular president dominates Kentucky
Ky. Senate: Bunning wins - but race was close
Ky. House: This time around, Davis prevails
Issue One: Kentucky overwhelmingly says yes to no-gay-marriage
State's determined voters brave long lines, waits, rain
23rd Senate District: Westwood survives challenge by Groob
Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat
State Senate: Republican Thayer wins a full term in new seat
67th House District: Keene's win preserves spot for Democrats

Shelter director traveled from needing to helping
Help Habitat by hiring yard rakers
Father inspired mission journey
Cone throw may bring legal action
Police dogs could get TV time at competition
Harrison man charged in auto fatals
Exhibit to spotlight 350 years of Judaism in America
Medal of Honor graves get special markers
Local news briefs
Neighbors news briefs

Good Things Happening

Gay Weber designed jet engines for GE

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Waltz or swing, timid students learn to let go
Florence Freedom has a deal
$545,000 grant to bolster Ky. health-care work force
N. Ky. news briefs
Jewelry gone after autopsy of corpse
N.Ky. schools' education guide available online
Murder counts filed in wreck that killed 2