Gahanna-Jefferson Issue 22 now shows two-vote win; recount likely

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group

Gahanna-Jefferson school district voters should expect a recount of Issue 22, with unofficial total results showing the issue now passing by two votes.

The Franklin County Board of Elections' unofficial results had been showing the district's issue passing early but then losing, but then slowly tightening. As of 1:07 a.m. Nov. 4, the issue still was failing by 105 votes, at which point, elections board spokesman Aaron Sellers noted "absentee and provisional ballots could have a big impact."

Steve Barrett, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools superintendent, stands in a boiler room in one of the older sections of Lincoln High School. Part of the proposed Issue 22 would replace the high school. The tax measure was trailing by a 105-vote margin in the early morning Nov. 4. As it stands, the measure is passing by two votes.

As it stands, the unofficial results show the combination of bond and levies passing, with 14,097 in favor to 14,095 votes opposed. 

By state law, an automatic recount occurs if the difference between votes cast on an issue or race is equal to or less than ½ of 1%.

However, before a recount can occur, the results will have to be certified, according to Sellers. He said the additional provisional and absentee ballots also wouldn't be counted until after certification Nov. 18.

He pointed to a detailed sheet on the the Ohio Secretary of State's Office website for how recounts occur: tinyurl.com/y5fz4vrk

More:Gahanna-Jefferson three-part tax issue fails by slim margin

A statement issued by the pro-levy Building a Brighter Future Committee, led by Cait Masarik and Carrin Wester, read: “Overnight (Nov. 3-4), we learned that the current vote count has come down to a razor-thin margin of two votes.

“Although over 28,000 votes were cast within our GJPS district, we believe there are more provisional ballots yet to be counted, which will change the final vote. We will likely have to wait a few weeks to have final results from this year’s historic election.

“Although it’s hard to wait for final results, we are hopeful, in the end, that our community has decided to invest in the long-term success of the district, with the passage of this levy. We want to thank our many volunteers and community members that helped with this levy effort.” 

The district on Nov. 4 issued a statement attributed to Superintendent Steve Barrett, reading in part:

“On behalf of our students, families, teachers and staff – thank you. Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools is deeply appreciative our community came together on Election Day to invest in our schools. Early this morning, the Franklin County Board of Elections announced that Issue 22 passed by two votes.

“Although we are pleased with this initial outcome, there are more ballots to be counted. The Board of Elections will process these in the coming weeks and will then certify the results."

The issue is poised to provide funds to build a new Lincoln High School, additions to other district school buildings as well as operating funds for the district. 

The issue is earmarked for the second phase of the master facilities plan, Barrett said, and includes a 4.93-mill bond issue and a 1.5-mill permanent-improvements levy, for a total of 6.43 mills.

Barrett said the issue also includes a 4.26-mill operating levy to hire additional staff to keep pace with increasing enrollment and meet additional costs related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The bond issue, operating levy and permanent-improvements levy total 10.69 mills.

The additional cost for the total package would be $374 annually per $100,000 of  property value.

District treasurer Mike Verlingo said the bond and permanent-improvements levy would be used to service debt for the construction of new facilities – a new Lincoln High School, expansion to all of the middle schools and some of the elementary schools.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla