The Clintonville Area Commission has two new members after last weekend's election, though efforts to increase voter participation don't seem to have made a dent.

Votes were counted May 4 for three races -- in the commission's Districts 3, 6 and 8 -- with candidates in two districts running unopposed.

In District 3, current CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt ran for reelection with no opponent and received 25 votes to remain commissioner.

In District 6, Kendra Carpenter ran unopposed after Mary B. Relotto dropped out of the race in April. Carpenter received 35 votes to replace outgoing commissioner Randy Ketcham.

The race between James Garrison and Ty Hulbert in District 8 was the only contest of the weekend. Garrison won a narrow victory with 11 votes, edging out Hulbert's eight.

The 19 votes in the contested race were only slightly more than the 15 votes cast in last year's race between current CAC member John Eschenbrenner and Michael Weinman.

The anemic turnout in the 2018 election spurred an effort by the CAC to increase voter awareness, including fliers distributed around the three affected districts and more information posted online.

Garrison said he was "happy" and "excited" to be elected, but "also slightly disappointed" at the vote count.

"I wish there was more community investment in the election, but I think that's an ongoing dialogue indicative of the way things have kind of evolved to date," he said. "It's kind of the reason why I want to be in there in the first place and hopefully make some change."

Ann Henkener, chairwoman of the CAC's election committee, said the numbers for the election weren't totally surprising.

"I think a lot has to do with how active the candidates are in their district, in terms of making this a high-profile race," she said.

Henkener said the CAC performed an "exit poll" this year, asking voters where they got their information on the races and other demographic questions in an attempt to learn more about residents.

"We should have something a little more articulate and some analysis done by the next committee meeting," she said.

Though Carpenter's election was an uncontested race, it came with a bit of controversy.

Henkener said the CAC received 118 requests for mail-in ballots and had more than 40 arrive together in the same package, most voting for Carpenter.

Though it "made no difference in the outcome," Henkener said the election committee will aim to use the situation as an opportunity to reiterate guidelines that say mailed ballots must be sent individually from the person who cast them.

"Our rules say the voter must mail in the voter request form," she said. "It looked to us, because they were all in this large envelope, that someone else had mailed in the ballot request. We don't know who mailed it in. If that were a candidate, that's probably not the best election practice to have the candidate that close to the election process."

Henkener said the votes will not be counted, but would have given Carpenter an extra 40 or more votes in the uncontested race. Ultimately, the issue had no effect. But Henkener said it's a good opportunity to clear up an issue.

"We will probably change our candidate instructions for next year to clarify this," she said. "I don't want a mountain made of a small molehill here."

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