By Frank Lewis
John Haas has been reelected as solicitor for the city of Portsmouth. Voters gave Haas a 2,001 to 1,057 victory over Fifth Ward City Councilman Gene Meadows. Both are Portsmouth attorneys. The final percentage of the vote was 65 percent to 35 percent.
“I feel pretty good. I was really nervous,” Haas said in the rotunda of the Scioto County Courthouse Tuesday night. “I know there was a large turnout and I always felt if there was a large turnout I would do okay. It’s a relief.”
Haas said one of the main focuses should be to keep the budget in line and to build up some reserves and to move the city forward.
“We need to go through our zoning ordinances and clean those up,” Haas said. “Clean up the building inspection department. Right now that has been decimated and I think the city needs to be more active in keeping up the commercial and the properties in down making sure people have building permits and so forth. That’s another big thing.”
Haas said he sees the trend in the city as positive.
“I see it moving in the right direction,” Haas said. “That’s really why I was kind of concerned about this election because I really wanted to continue at this position to do what I can to help the city move forward because I do feel like it’s moving in the right direction.”
Tom Lowe wept as, for a moment Tuesday, he reflected on his upbringing.
“I just kind of wish my parents were here to see it,” Lowe said, after learning from his opponent, Shawn Stratton that he had won the Sixth Ward Council seat.
Stratton jotted the figures down from the door of the three precincts in the Sixth Ward shortly after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Stratton conceded the election early in the evening – “The people have spoken,” Stratton said as he congratulated Lowe.
When the votes were unofficially tabulated, Lowe came away with 350 vot6es to Stratton’s 198, a 64 percent to 36 percent plurality
Stratton and Lowe were at the center of a controversy in the May Primary when they seemingly teamed up to defeat incumbent councilman Portsmouth attorney Jeff Kleha, leaving him as the odd man out. It was that election in which the Scioto County Board of Elections allowed Sixth Ward voters to vote for two instead of one as had always been the practice of the city in previous elections.
Oddly enough, one of the amendments that will be on the March primary ballot in 2016 is the wording that when a position comes open, voters will be allowed to vote for not more than one.
“I feel great,” Lowe said. “I’d like to thank the people of the Sixth Ward and Sciotoville for supporting me. I’ve got plans, hopefully some good things. We’ve got to figure out ways to generate some revenue without putting it on the backs of the people. We need some infrastructure. We need some roads paved in Sciotoville. We’ve got some problem areas. I’m looking forward to working with council in trying to move forward past the stagnant (condition) that it has been and I’m just looking for good things in the future. Hopefully I can hold up my end of the bargain.”
Lowe thanked the citizens of the Sixth Ward, his campaign manager, J.D. Packard and his wife Sandy, his sister Marie Ross.
“We tried to run as clean a campaign as possible,” Lowe said. “And I feel proud.”
Stratton’s campaign was one in which he called for the resignation of Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen and vowed not to take a paycheck, to have no rate increases and even endorsed Sciotoville separating from the city.
In the Second Ward, Jo Ann Aeh, a write-in candidate will take over the seat currently held by Rich Saddler, who chose not to run again. Acting Mayor James Kalb will be returned as Fourth Ward Councilman. He too was unopposed.
Randy Basham of the Scioto County Board of Elections said the count is unofficial until 10 days from Tuesday when they will have a meetingt to tabulate the provisional ballots.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.