Westerville residents voted for some change, but not drastic change, with their choices for city council last week.
In a tight race, Westerville residents chose two incumbents and two challengers in the race for four seats on City Council on Nov. 7.
Incumbents Kathy Cocuzzi and Michael Heyeck ran successful re-election campaigns, and were joined in victory by newcomers Valerie Cumming and Alex Heckman.
Incumbents John Bokros and Larry Jenkins and challenger Lee Alan Peters lost by slim margins.
With all precincts reporting Nov. 7, Cocuzzi was the top vote-getter with 4,195 votes, followed by Heyeck with 4,057, Cumming with 3,467 and Heckman with 3,410, or 18 percent for Cocuzzi and Heyeck, 15 percent for Cumming and Heckman, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Bokros received 2,802 votes; Jenkins, 2,656 votes; and Peters, 2,210 votes.
Cocuzzi, who is currently mayor of Westerville and has been on council since 2005, said she "didn't really" learn anything based on the election results.
"I would just say that everybody campaigned really hard and some people campaigned harder than others," she said.
Heyeck, who has been on council since 1993, said he "would have guessed one incumbent" would be unseated, but was surprised by two. He described the race as "a very active election."
"Broadly, I would say that the voters were very responsive to a robust election," he said. "It was a lot of participation, a lot of questions and concerns that were raised. But I don't take anything different away than any other election."
But for newcomer Heckman, the results sent a clear message.
"When I was out talking to people, some people are quite happy with the way things are and some people are a little bit frustrated with the way things are in Westerville," he said.
"Certainly, part of my message was that I grew up in Westerville and I'm now raising my family there -- so obviously, I think Westerville is a great community -- but I think there are some areas where I think we can do better," he said.
Heckman, Cumming and Peters ran together under the banner of "Growing Westerville for Everyone." And while only two of them won, Heckman said their message of "watching the city's wallet" and focusing on advancement in sustainability and "green" technology appealed to voters.
"Our desire to put more of a priority or emphasis on sustainability as a strategic priority really resonated with people," he said.
As a councilman well-versed in elections, Heyeck said his major takeaway is that he appreciates a well-informed and active group of residents. While he said he wished turnout was higher, he said he was happy with how the 2017 election season played out.
"I'm pretty proud that Westerville is pretty active, and I'm really proud of all the candidates," he said. "They worked hard, and now we have to be respectful of what voters decide."
Local liquor options
The only liquor options on the Westerville ballot were overwhelmingly passed, according to unofficial final election results.
Voters saw two options in Precinct 1A, Issue 28A for weekday sales and Issue 28B for Sunday sales related to a new project at 8 N. State St.
"BBQ gastropub" Barrel & Boar is set to be the new tenant of the site, a deal that owner Stan Riley said was contingent on the passage of the liquor options.
The weekday sales option passed by a vote of 251 to 45, or 85 percent to 15 percent. The Sunday sales option passed by a vote of 235 to 62, or 79 percent to 21 percent.
Two townships adjacent to the city of Westerville stuck with their incumbent trustees in the Nov. 7 election.
Blendon Township voters returned their two incumbents, Jan Heichel and Stew Flaherty, to the township's board of trustees. The pair faced challenger DeLena Ciamacco.
With all precincts reporting, Heichel was the top vote-getter with 1,202 votes, followed by Flaherty with 1,125 and Ciamacco with 703, or 40, 37 and 23 percent, according to final, unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Genoa Township voters returned Karl Gebhardt and Connie Goodman to the township's board of trustees in a four-candidate race. Gebhardt was the top vote-getter with 2,891 votes, followed by Goodman with 2,679, or 30 and 27 percent, with all precincts reporting Nov. 7, according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
Challenger Renee Vaughan received 2,486 votes, or 25 percent, while newcomer Mark Harmon received 1,351, or 14 percent.