Liberty and Orange township voters were looking for change Nov. 5, with a longtime trustee and both fiscal officers ousted.
In a Liberty Township race that attracted attention far beyond southern Delaware County, Bryan Newell topped two other challengers to replace Melanie Leneghan on the board of trustees.
Leneghan, whose controversial proposals regarding the township’s EMS and other issues stirred up tumult among residents this year, did not run for reelection.
Newell earned 3,173 votes (51%), compared to Melanie Farkas’ 2,051 (33%) and Scott Donaldson’s 1,020 (16%), according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
“Our public processes are flawed,” Newell said. “There are some things that have been put in place where I don’t think our citizens felt they could speak up and be safe. We need to give the people back their voice.”
He said rebuilding trust and a unified board also are important.
“People have been asking me that, about who’s paired up with who on the board,” Newell said. “It would be great if we could get back to being a team, but I don’t know how that will go until (January).”
Other priorities include zoning issues and building a working relationship with the city of Powell, he said.
In the township’s race for fiscal officer, newcomer Rick Karr will replace incumbent Nancy Denutte.
Karr brought in 4,277 votes (72%) to Denutte’s 1,701 (28%), according to the board of elections.
In Orange Township, challenger Ben Grumbles toppled longtime Orange Township trustee Lisa Knapp in a three-person race for one seat.
Grumbles garnered 1,782 votes (38%) to Knapp’s 1,525 (32%). Former trustee Robert Quigley rounded out the race with 1,433 votes (30%), according to the elections board.
Grumbles credited his door-to-door campaign with the victory and said he is ready to get to work.
“We’ve got to get focused on smart economic development as a cohesive board,” he said.
Another priority, he said, is to help the township reestablish an identity amid a period of rapid growth.
“Our shifting demographic is something I’m looking forward to talking about with our board and our community,” Grumbles said.
Knapp, who has served on the board for eight years, said she’s proud of her accomplishments in that time.
“I cleaned up Orange Township and implemented fiscal oversight,” she said. “Employee morale and service to our residents are at an all-time high.
“I can hold my head up high knowing I ran a clean and positive campaign, and that I’ve accomplished a lot for the community that I love,” she said.
However, Knapp expressed concern over mailings that she alleged included “false information about me,” paid for by a local PAC. Knapp suggested Grumbles met with the PAC and seemed to have coordinated messaging, but Grumbles denied any connection.
“My campaign was to personally bring a positive message offering change. ... I believe I did that and believe it is why I won,” Grumbles said. “I did not think negative campaigning was necessary or would be effective; that is why it was never part of my campaign plan. I can’t control what others do.
“I had no involvement whatsoever with the PAC who sent negative mail during this election,” he said.
In the township’s fiscal-officer race, another incumbent was booted, with Wesley Mayer losing his job to Lisa Kraft.
Kraft earned 2,820 votes (62%) to Mayer’s 1,749 (38%), according to final, unofficial results from the board of elections.
Orange Township voters also overwhelmingly approved two replacement levies on Election Day.
A 1-mill issue for parks and recreation was approved 3,472 votes (71%) to 1,438 (29%), according to the elections board, while a 0.5-mill roads levy took 3,683 votes (75%) to 1,237 (25%).
“We have a lot of work planned and keeping up with the maintenance of our beautiful parks and roads is important for all of us,” Orange Township trustee Debbie Taranto said.
Taranto cited the second phase of the Lewis Center trail connecting Bale Kenyon Road to Waukeegan Avenue and the Lewis Center/North Road trail as examples of projects the parks levy will fund.
She said the tax dollars will support continued work at North Road Park, including the installation of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant playground equipment as well as ADA equipment at North Orange Park.
“One major project that has been in the works for many years is our safe crossing over the Orange Road railroad tracks,” she said.
Taranto said the roads levy will fund the township’s improvement and maintenance plan, citing specifically the widening and installation of traffic lights on Orange Road in 2020.
“We have over five schools that feed off of Orange and it really is a safety hazard,” she said. “This project can’t happen fast enough.”
The parks levy generates $1,208,846 each year and will continue to cost homeowners $26.59 annually per $100,000 in property valuation.
The roads levy will continue to cost residents $15.79 annually per $100,000 in property valuation and generates $631,003 each year.
Both three-year issues previously were passed in 2016.
The race for three seats on the Olentangy school board was unopposed, with incumbents Kevin O’Brien and Mindy Patrick elected along with newcomer LaKesha Wyse.