Data show Trump ‘tidal wave’ not behind Springfield levy failure

  • Parker Perry
  • Staff Writer
6:10 p.m Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 Politics
Jeff Guerini
Dan Harkins analyzes Springfield voting data from Issue 2. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

A breakdown of Springfield precincts reveal many areas of the city with voters who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in the November election voted against the income tax question.

“Traditionally, or the stereotype has been, that Democrat voters tend to support tax issues,” local attorney Dan Harkins said. “That’s not the case in the City of Springfield, at least when it came to Issue 2.”

Harkins was a leader in the NO campaign that ultimately killed Issue 2. The ballot question asked voters to increase the city’s income tax from 2 percent to 2.4 percent to help fund city operations.

Of the vote, 10,468 voters, or 50.55 percent cast no ballots while 10,241 voters, or 49.45 percent, said yes, according to the Clark County Election Board.

MORE: Springfield income tax hike fails

City leaders say they are are now trying to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in government spending to balance the budget. Cuts include trimming overtime pay for police officers and firefighters, and closing a fire station and a police substation. More cuts may follow next year to balance the budget.

Phone calls to Mayor Warren Copeland were not returned Tuesday.

Copeland said after it was announced the levy had failed following a recount that he believes the city should ask voters again to pass the increase.

“It’s nothing but ugly from here into the future as far as I can see unless we can convince people this isn’t the direction we want to go,” Copeland said.

Also, the breakdown shows that many areas that voted for Trump in Springfield voted for the tax increase. Harkins said one possibility for this is because many retired voters likely voted for Trump and supported the levy since it was an income tax.

“The Republicans voted for the tax and the Democrats voted against it,” Harkins said.

An example of this is precinct 14 which is home to the Ohio Masonic Retirement Village. The precinct had about 200 voters turnout and voters picked Trump at a 58 percent clip. Only 35 percent voted for Clinton from the precinct, according to the Clark County Election Board. However, the income tax passed with 65 percent approving.

“Although the employees have taxes withheld from their wages for the city, most of the residents don’t pay the city tax,” Harkins said. “There are a few that still work, but the majority are retired. So they voted for Trump but voted for the tax.

The city did a pretty good job of articulating its threat to close station five and station five has traditionally been the station from which medics are sent to the Ohio Masonic Home,” he said.

Another precinct that followed the trend was precinct 11, where Eaglewood and Oakwood villages are on the upper northeast side of the city. There, over 1,100 voters turned out and overwhelming supported Trump and the income tax. Trump received 54 percent of those voters, while 41 percent voted for Clinton and 53 percent voted for the income tax compared to 34 percent that shot it down.

READ MORE: Springfield budget cuts debate turns heated, could go to ballot

“The yes vote came from areas that are now more occupied by individuals who are retired,” Harkins said. “What is ironic is the city has used the threat to cut services trying to get the south, east and west to vote for the tax issue and that clearly was rejected.”

A review of the precincts also shows a divide between the north and south sides of the city.

“Those who are still working and are trying to earn an income are against the tax increase while those who are retired are happy to increase the taxes of those who are working,” Harkins said. “That’s the bottom line.”