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2019 Election: Democrats Fend Off Progressive Challengers In Columbus


From Columbus City Council to the school board, the Franklin County Democratic Party maintained its dominance of city government on Tuesday. See the full results from the 2019 election below.

Dampened by a rainy morning, an uncontested mayoral race and no statewide contests, turnout for this year's election was just over 183,000, or 22% of registered voters. According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, that's actually up slightly from the last municipal elections.

Columbus Races

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther won reelection for another four years, after running unopposed. With 99% of precincts reporting, Ginther dominated all write-in candidates with 94% of the vote.

Republicans declined to field a single candidate for any city office, including mayor.

In the Columbus City Council contests, four Democratic incumbents held onto their seats amid a concerted challenge from progressive coalition Yes We Can.

Elizabeth Brown, the only Council member to have won an election before, was the top vote-getter at 20%. Shayla Favor (17%), Emmanuel Remy (16%) and Rob Dorans (15%)—all of whom were appointed to their positions and faced voters for the first time Tuesday—followed closely behind.

At an Election Night event for the Franklin County Democratic Party, Brown extended something of an olive branch.

"Our opponents in this election are not our opponents in the fight to move this city forward," Brown said. "We have work to do in the city of Columbus. It will take all of us, pushing forward together, to get it done. Together, we can deliver."

Through tears, Favor talked about losing her mother and called herself "young, black, and proud." She credited the work of all four Council members in achieving Election Day victory.

"The folks that you see behind me, we have been fighting hard for the last four months to demonstrate to the city of Columbus that we are, in fact, continuing to fight for every single resident," Favor said.

Yes We Can put three candidates on the ballot—Tiffany White (9%), Joe Motil (8%), and Lilliana Rivera Baiman (8%)—but failed to win a single seat.

Although White isn't heading to City Council, she's keeping a glass half full perspective.

"I feel good actually, I think anybody who takes that risk to go out there, educate voters—because it could be worse, the percentages could be worse," White said. "I know what I do in my community. I know what I've done around the city."

She and Motil brought up the Democratic Party's sample ballot listing endorsed candidates as a difficult hurdle for outsiders to overcome. Motil said he'd continue to speak out on the city's tax abatement policies, and argued even without a win, the election shows about a third of voters agree with the concerns challengers raised.

Independent Scott Singratsomboune (5%) also ran for Council.

Other Central Ohio Races

Franklin County Democrats also secured all four seats up for grabs on the Columbus Board of Education. Democratic incumbents Jennifer Adair (23%) and Eric Brown (21%) won re-election, along with newcomers Tina Pierce (23%) and Carol Beckerle (20%). Yes We Can challenger Kimberly Mason fell short with 13%.

In Franklin County, voters also decided two races for Franklin County Municipal Court judges and one race for Environmental Court judge.

Jessica D'Varga had the most notable victory of the three, winning a Municipal Court race 56-44% over incumbent Judge Amy Salerno. Salerno has twice been found guilty of judicial misconduct by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Judge Jodi Thomas held onto her Municipal Court seat, defeating Trent Doughterty 60-40%, while Stephanie Mingo won over William Sperlazza, 51-49%, in the Environmental Court race.

Finally, Franklin County residents have voted to renew the current Children’s Services levy, which taxes homeowners about $84 a year for every $100,000 of home value. The levy re-approval won by a margin of 80-20%.

Around The State

In Akron, Democratic mayor Dan Horrigan won re-election by a commanding margin over Republican Josh Sines.

Yellow Springs voters rejecteda proposed charter amendment that would have allowed residents as young as 16 to vote in village races.

Laurie Jadwin was elected the next mayor of Gahanna, garnering 60% of the vote over Ryan Jolley.

The race for mayor of Canal Winchester was a tight one, with incumbent Mike Ebert winning another term with 43% of the vote, besting Bruce Jarvis (40%) and Doug Snyder (17%).

And in Grove City, incumbent mayor Ike Stage eked out a victory over Steven Robinette, 53-47%.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.
Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.