Cynthia Vermillion won't be sworn in as a Hilliard City Council member until January, but the first Democrat elected to the council since 1989 said she isn't waiting until then to begin her work.

"I've already started reaching out to and making appointments with the president of council, Kelly McGivern, and council (vice president) Pete Marsh," she said.

Marsh, a Republican, also won one of three council seats up for election Nov. 5; fellow Republican council member Omar Tarazi also appeared to win a seat. Both men were seeking election to their seats for the first time after being appointed to council early in 2018 and 2019, respectively, replacing Joe Erb and Albert Iosue.

However, a recount could be necessary because of the close vote totals between Tarazi and the fourth-place challenger, Democrat Tina Cottone, who trailed him by 86 votes Nov. 5.

Recounts are mandatory in Ohio when the difference between a winning candidate and the candidate with the next-highest number of certified votes is less than one-half of 1% of the total votes cast for that ballot question, according to guidelines from the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.

But before that is determined, boards of elections must certify their results, which include provisional ballots, by Nov. 26, according to Aaron Sellers, a spokesman for the board of elections.

According to final unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections on Nov. 5, Marsh led the six-candidate field with 3,141 votes (18%), Vermillion had 3,065 votes (17.5%), Tarazi had 2,972 (17%) and Cottone had 2,886 (16.5%).

Republican Bob Stepp had 2,842 votes (16.3%) and Democrat Deryck Richardson II had 2,565 votes (14.7%) to round out the candidates.

McGivern said she is excited to begin working with Vermillion.

"I personally am excited about Cynthia joining our team and will help her get up to speed so she can hit the ground running," McGivern said.

McGivern is concluding a two-year term as president, but she does not plan to serve in that role next year.

"I won't be seeking any leadership position next year, as my workload has increased to a point I cannot devote the time to handling those extra duties," she said.

Moving forward, the terms of council president and vice president, when selected at council's organizational meeting in January, will be for one year, according to David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

That change was one of several that were part of issue 25, a battery of city charter amendments voters approved Nov. 5 by a margin of 3,485 votes to 2,159 votes.

Council's organizational meeting has not been scheduled and is contingent on when Hilliard's first city manager is sworn in, Ball said.

Last year, voters approved changing the city's form of government from a strong-mayor model to a city manager, who will oversee the city's department directors and the daily operations of the city.

Council in October named Michelle Crandall, Dublin's deputy city manager, to the new post; Mayor Don Shonhardt will conclude his fourth and final term Dec. 31.

Going forward, when council members elect a president and vice president, the president also will serve as mayor, McGivern said.

The additional duties of mayor include representing the city at a variety of public functions and serving as interim city manager, per the charter amendments approved in Issue 25, Ball said.

Meanwhile, Marsh, like McGivern, said he looks forward to Vermillion joining council.

"I think there are going to be many benefits to having a new perspective on City Council next year," Marsh said. "(Since my appointment in 2018), I have put a focus on increasing community engagement, and that same objective was a cornerstone of Cynthia's campaign. I think that the two of us will work well together in developing new ideas to engage the public so we can be sure that we are hearing and considering all points of view."

Vermillion said her early goals as a councilwoman include developing legislation to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, improving communication with residents "with transparency in mind" and utilizing a recently completed audit by the Schneider Downs firm "to make sure the city has the proper controls in place to protect the taxpayers' money" after the city's former deputy director of the recreation and parks department, Heather Ernst, pleaded guilty last year to theft in office.

Concerning his own views, Marsh said, he was "honored" the voters elected him and will work "to earn the confidence and trust" voters showed.

Marsh said his goals include ensuring a smooth transition into the city-manager form of government, maintain responsible development standards for the Big Darby Accord region, prioritizing infrastructure projects and "continuing to improve intergovernmental relationships so our city, school and township officials are striving toward collaboration."

Tarazi said he is "grateful to the people of Hilliard for entrusting me with the honor" of continuing to serve on council.

"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," Tarazi said.

School board

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

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 5,169 votes (24%), Long had 4,447 (20.7%), Stasi Trout had 4,407 (20.5%), Brian Morgan had 3,809 (17.8%) and Jon Parker-Jones had 3,621 votes (16.9%).

"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 the Issue 25 charter-amendment request but rejected its companion, Issue 26.

Issue 26, which was rejected 3,323 votes to 2,568 votes, would have eliminated partisan primary elections for council.

Issue 25 is a broad set of modifications to the city 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.

Townships

All candidates in Brown and Norwich townships were unopposed.

They were Brown incumbent trustee Pam Sayre and fiscal officer candidate Becky Kent and Norwich incumbent trustee Tim Roberts and incumbent fiscal officer Jamie Miles.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

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