Strong local turnout at polls forecast

By Mike Sever Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The variety of issues and number of elected positions on the ballot is expected to draw a good turnout.

Gerry Lewis, director of the Portage County Board of Elections, said she expects about 40 percent of the countys 90,703 eligible voters to turn out. The polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

According to Lewis, the board of elections already has received more than 300 absentee ballots, which is an indication of strong voter interest, she said.

In the countywide judicial races, voters will have to choose three candidates among a field of eight for three municipal court judgeships.

In the hottest race, three Democrats and two Republicans are vying for election to the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Perry Dickinson. Republicans Louis Bertrand of Hiram and Ron Kane, a former county prosecutor, are competing with Democrats Laurie Pittman, Eugene Muldowney and Francis Ricciardi. Muldowney and Ricciardi are both assistant county prosecutors.

Judge Donald Martell, who is seeking to retain the seat to which he was appointed in January, is opposed by Democrat Sharon Sabarese. Judge Barbara Watson is running unopposed for the third municipal court seat.

Except for the large field, the contest was uneventful until the Portage County Bar Association released its first ever rating of judicial candidates. The two sitting judges received highly recommended ratings and all but two candidates were rated as recommended. Sabarese and Muldowney, the only candidates to receive not recommended ranks, blasted the process used to determine the ratings.

In Kent, voters will elect three Kent City Council members from a field of eight. None are incumbents.

Seeking election are: Democrats Michael DeLeone, Ray Fort and William Schultz; Republicans William Anderson, Louis Perez, and Dan Kamburoff; and independents George Donoghue and John Gwinn.

Mayor Jerry Fiala, a Democrat, is vying with John Fender, an independent, to hold onto the mayors post. Fiala was appointed mayor in January.

In Streetsboro, voters have a choice among nine candidates seven on the ballot and two declared write-ins for five city council seats.

In the at-large contest, voters can choose among Pete Buczkowski, Stephen Kolar and Gary Rivers or write-ins LeRoy Meadows and Joe Collica. Ralph Iverson and Jerome Pavlick are vying in Ward Two, and Gary Cross and George Harris are contending for the Ward Three seat.

In other important races, James A. Garfield School District is making its sixth attempt to get an $8 million, 6.39-mill bond issue passed. The bond issue would pay for a new high school and renovate the existing high school into a middle school.

Windham Exempted School District voters are also being asked to pass a 2.83-mill bond issue which would bring them $20.6 million in state building aid to replace and repair rundown schools. Gov. George Voinovich made a stop in Windham recently to urge voters to pass the bond issue.

The Portage County Park District is asking voters to approve Issue 3, a 1-mill, five-year levy to fund the purchase, development and operation of an expanded county park system. The levy would raise an estimated $1.85 million a year, based on 1996 county property tax assessments.

The Portage County Combined General Health District is seeking approval for Issue 4, a 0.4-mill, five year replacement levy to fund operations. The Portage County Township Association has endorsed the levy for the department, which serves all of the county except the cities of Ravenna and Kent.

Voters around the countys villages and townships will be electing council members or trustees in every community in the county as well.

For voters interested in election night coverage, WSTB 88.9 FM will provide continuous Streetsboro and Portage County election returns live from the county board of elections. Reporter Bob Long will anchor the coverage with co-host Dennis Missimi.

County Republicans will meet at the Ravenna Elks to monitor the returns

Tuesday night. Everyone is welcome to join them, Republican Party

Executive Committee chairman Norm Sandvoss said today.

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