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Hamilton County Board Of Elections Wants To Move To Norwood

The Hamilton County Board of Elections plans to leave its current site downtown for a bigger location in Norwood.
Hamilton County Board of Elections
The Hamilton County Board of Elections plans to leave its current site downtown for a bigger location in Norwood.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections voted unanimously Wednesday morning to move its headquarters from downtown to the former General Motors site in Norwood.

They will need the approval of the county commissioners to do it.

Board chairman Tim Burke said the board of elections – two Democrats and two Republicans – voted to ask Hamilton County commissioners to negotiate a lease for the Norwood site, with the intention of the board moving there at the end of this year.

Board member Alex Triantafilou said the board has no choice but to move with its leases ending soon on current offices and warehouse. But Triantafilou, who favors the move to Norwood, said the county commissioners must be convinced that the additional expense of the Norwood property will be worth it. 

"In the end, it is up to the county commissioners to approve this,'' Triantafilou said. "We're asking them to negotiate the lease." 

Burke agreed. 

"Ultimately, it will be the decision of the county commissioners,'' Burke said. "But the fact is, we have to move. There is no place else to go. So I feel confident they will support us on this." 

According to county documents, the board pays $651,717 a year now to lease the Broadway offices and the Fairfax warehouse. The Norwood building would cost $924,614.

The Central Parke office complex on Smith Road in Norwood, where once stood the General Motors plant, is an ideal central location for all county voters, Burke said.

"What Norwood offered was excellent bus transportation," Burke said. "Handicap access is terrific. There is ample free parking all over that site, both on the same level as the building and across the street at the former GM parking garage. And it really is centrally located in Hamilton County." 

Burke, who is also chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, said the board is looking for a long-term lease. 

Burke said the board also found out in a closed-door session Wednesday that the owners of the warehouse in Fairfax where the board of elections keeps equipment want them out by the end of the year.

The board’s lease on its offices at 824 Broadway downtown ends at the end of the year. 

Two years ago, Republicans on the board backed moving the board offices to Mt. Airy, but Democrats opposed it, saying it was not accessible enough to voters.

Burke said the Norwood site is big enough for the board of elections’ needs and is accessible to the public. 

“While we preferred to stay downtown, there is not anything available downtown that would suit our needs,’’ Burke said.

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Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.