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Tuesday, May 3,2011

Dem incumbents easily keep seats in Athens primary; school levy wins

Contested races

By David DeWitt
In the contested Democratic primary races for Athens City Council Tuesday, the incumbents performed well, with all incumbents who were running winning (Kent Butler, First Ward, and Christine Knisely and Elahu Gosney, at-large). Steve Patterson also won an at-large seat.
A replacement levy for the Athens City Schools also won handily. And a current expenses levy in the village of Chauncey passed 50 to 20.

With current Second Ward City Council member Sherry Coon and Third Ward City Council member Nancy Bain not seeking re-election, Jeff Risner took the uncontested nomination for Coon's seat, while Michelle Papai took the uncontested nomination for Bain's.

Also, City Council President Bill Bias is not seeking re-election as current at-large council member Jim Sands won the uncontested nod for that position.

No Republicans filed to run for Athens City Council races, so unless one or more independents decide to run, the Democratic primary winners will be unopposed in November.

Knisely said that she is grateful to all the people who helped her so far in the campaign.

"As we approach the end of this year and in this season on council, I think we'll be working with the auditor's office and the administration on managing the revenues we have and doing what we can to keep the city in good shape and moving forward," she said.

Meanwhile, Patterson said that the past couple days have been whirlwind but he feels great about the results of the primary.

"To clearly be in the top three is where I wanted to be, so I'm happy about that," he said. He added that he plans to continue visiting neighborhoods in Athens, attending meetings and knocking on doors to hear from residents.

As for issues, Patterson said he's concerned about the city's infrastructure and would like to work on that as a priority to also help stimulate economic development.

Patterson also expressed concern over the recent spate of sexual attacks and assaults around town. With so much attention lately being given to noise issues, Patterson said emphasis should be given first and foremost to the physical safety of the residents of Athens.

Gosney said he is very grateful to be given the opportunity to continue serving the people of Athens.

"It's interesting being both the youngest person on council and also one of the longest serving," he said. "It just shows the amount of change that there's been over the last few years."

He added that he appreciated everyone who ran in the six-way at-large race.

"Unfortunately, only three can win the nominations, but I think all six were really top-notch," he said. "And I think we were better off that we had six candidates instead of three or four, which is what usually happens."

Butler expressed his gratitude to the voters and said his opponent, Andrea DeMott, ran a good campaign.

"After getting out and talking to west-siders, I have a renewed vigor," he said. "I'd say there was a consensus that the community is moving in the right direction, but there is an interest in doing more, that work still needs to be done. I don't think any of us can rest on our laurels. We need to keep moving forward."

Athens County Democratic Party Chair Bill Bias said he's pleased with the results, noting that all of the candidates handled the campaign with professionalism.

"It was a very clean campaign," he said. "I did not see any bad campaigning. I think Mr. Patterson is going to offer some freshness on council and I think his background is going to serve the city well. I'm very pleased."

Following are the unofficial 2011 Primary Election results from the Athens County Board of Elections with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Following are only issue and contested races results. The winning votes are in bold.

Athens City School District Replacement Levy

For the tax levy 1,427 68.24 percent

Against the tax levy 664 31.76 percent

Total votes - 2,091

Athens City Council First Ward (Democrats)

Kent Butler 139 67.80 percent

Andrea DeMott 66 32.20 percent

Total votes - 205

Athens City Council At-large (Democrats)

Ibriham Alassaf 125 4.77 percent

Elahu Sustarsic Gosney 635 24.24 percent

Nate Hall 233 8.89 percent

Christine B. Knisely 662 25.27 percent

Steve Patterson 652 24.89 percent

Maxine Rantane 313 11.95 percent

Total votes - 2,620


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