Hilliard voters have elected a Democrat to Hilliard City Council for the first time in three decades, as Cynthia Vermillion claimed one of the three seats up for election Nov. 5.

According to final unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 5, Republican Pete Marsh led the field with 3,104 votes (17.9%), Vermillion was a close second with 3,042 (17.6%) and Republican Omar Tarazi had 2,939 (17%), with all 23 precincts reporting.

Marsh and Tarazi are current officeholders; the third, Republican Nathan Painter, did not seek reelection. Marsh and Tarazi were appointed to council in early 2018 and 2019, respectively, replacing Joe Erb and Albert Iosue, who each resigned.

Vermillion is the first Democrat council member elected in Hilliard since 1989.

Meanwhile, Democrat Tina Cottone had 2,861 votes (16.5%), Republican Bob Stepp had 2,808 (16.2%) and Democrat Deryck Richardson II had 2,548 (14.7%), according to the board of elections.

A recount could be necessary because of the close vote totals between Cottone and Tarazi. Recounts are mandatory in Ohio when the difference between a winning candidate and the candidate with the next highest number of votes is less than one-half of 1 percent, according to the Ohio Revised Code.

Marsh said the shift stemmed from politics at the national level.

“I’m humbled to be retained for my seat (but) I think a lot of factors were at play, including the state of politics at the national level,” he said.

Vermillion thanked the voters who supported her.

“I’m thrilled to represent the people of Hilliard on City Council and give them a voice,” she said. "We worked hard for a year and have a feel for what's important to the residents."

Tarazi said he was thankful for the opportunity to continue serving residents.

"I am just so grateful to the people of Hilliard for entrusting me with this honor and opportunity to serve them," he said. "I look forward to working with the citizens of Hilliard, city staff and everyone on council to continue to make Hilliard a great place to live."

Cottone said she appreciated the experience she gained.

"This has been an amazing journey, and I am so grateful for the experience of this campaign," she said. "So many people have taught me much, been so generous and accepting, and listened to my questions and that is such a great gift. Whatever happens, this is a big win for me."

Stepp complimented the Democrats, particularly Vermillion.

“Cynthia ran a great race," he said. "I applaud her. She got out the people she needed to get out."

Richardson said he would continue to be involved civically.

“I can't wait for another opportunity to represent the people," he said. "I'm ready to continue to use my voice as a megaphone for change. “

School board

Hilliard City Schools voters tapped Brian Perry as the newest school board member and appeared to reelect Nadia Long by a narrow margin Nov. 5.

Perry and Long were among a field of five candidates running for two seats; incumbent board member Heather Keck did not seek reelection.

According to final unofficial results from the board of elections, Perry had 5,128 votes (24%), Long had 4,417 (20.8%), Stasi Trout had 4,374 (20.6%), Brian Morgan had 3,771 (17.7%) and Jon Parker-Jones had 3,595 votes (16.9%), with all 75 precincts reporting.

“I’m thrilled with the turnout and excited to get started as soon as possible," Perry said. "The people clearly spoke today, and I will be an advocate for them on the school board."

Long also thanked voters for their support.

"I am happy and proud to continue to serve our district," she said.

 However, a recount also could be necessary because of the close vote total between Long and Trout.

Charter amendments

Hilliard voters approved one charter-amendment request but rejected another Nov. 5.

According to final unofficial results from the board of elections, Issue 25 was approved 3,447 votes (61.6%) to 2,145 votes (38.3%), with all 23 precincts reporting. But Issue 26 was rejected 3,294 votes (56.4%) to 2,545 votes (43.6%).

Issue 25 is a broad set of modifications to the charter. They include:

* A two-year residency requirement for election eligibility to council.

* Permission for council to adjourn into executive session, or a closed meeting, to discuss economic-development matters.

* A reduction in the number of required readings for nonemergency ordinances from three to two.

* A reduction in the terms of planning and zoning commission members from six to four years.

* Removal of the 60-day waiting period for some zoning changes to become effective.

* Permission for council to institute tax-increment-financing districts with residential components with the approval of the school board or Norwich Township trustees, as applicable.

Issue 26 would have eliminated partisan primary elections for council.

“City Council accomplished two major goals so far this year," Council President Kelly McGiven said of Issue 25. "The first was identifying all the changes needed to bring our charter in line with having a city manager, and the other was hiring a city manager. With voter approval tonight, we can how move forward with a clean, up-to-date charter that helps move our community into the future."

Concerning issue 26, McGivern said, the city chose to separate the ballot question from the other proposed amendments, “knowing there would be a difference of opinions on Issue 26.”

“The voters have spoken, and we will continue to have primary elections moving forward,” she said.

Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Hilliard for continuing coverage of the election results.