An automatic recount for a Clark County commission seat upheld incumbent David Hartley’s comeback win over Republican challenger Kyle Koehler.
Hartley rallied from a 205 vote deficit on Election Day and won the seat by a final vote of 30,500 to 30,245, according to the Clark County Board of Elections, which certified the recount on Friday.
The Democratic incumbent won 34 of the county’s 38 urban precincts, receiving 697 of the 925 votes cast in those areas. He also won 39 of the county’s 62 rural precincts.
After learning the final vote totals, Hartley thanked his supporters and vowed to work hard for area taxpayers.
“I want to continue to do the best job that I’ve been doing and continue to protect taxpayer dollars,” Hartley said.
Koehler conceded the commission race to Hartley on Monday, but said in a written statement that he planned to remain involved in politics and the community.
“…My family and our family business (KK Tool) have cast our lot with Springfield and Clark County. We are not going anywhere. Whether I am ever in public office, Clark County is my community and seeing it grow and prosper will continue to be my goal. I will continue to work hard and be involved to make our county the best place to live and work,” Koehler wrote.
Hartley’s win means one Democrat will remain on county commission with Republican commissioners John Detrick and Rick Lohnes.
If preliminary elections results held and Koehler had won the seat, the commission would have been ruled entirely by Republicans for the first time since 1990 when Merle Kearns, Gordon Flax and Roger Baker all held seats.
Wittenberg University Political Science Professor Rob Baker said the the close race between Hartley and Koehler likely was the result of the hot-button issue involving the county’s decision to lease the Clark County Agricultural Building to Konecranes, which needed the building to develop a global training facility that could result in 25 new jobs.
Lohnes and Detrick approved the lease in a 2-1 vote, with Hartley the lone dissenting vote because it could cost the county between $500,000 to $700,000 in renovations and fixtures to move tenants into the county government building. In addition, estimates suggest that moving OSU Extension’s gardens could cost between $280,000 to $1.8 million.
Hartley, however, said that he ran a poor campaign and that Koehler outspent him significantly.
“My campaign was not very good. I didn’t raise a lot of money. I was distracted by my church (struggles), and my campaign manager died last year. I just never got it together. But I do a good job as a commissioner,” Hartley said.
Hartley said his position on the Konecranes deal did not cost him votes but may have helped local Republicans raise more money.
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