As the dust settled Tuesday night in the New Carlisle election race that sought to fill an empty council seat, Becky McKenzie led by eight votes.
However, there may still be 11 votes that need to be counted in the race, Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said. Therefore, the final result is still not clear.
“I’m not comfortable that I won but I am cautiously optimistic,” McKenzie said.
The unofficial results show 52 percent of voters elected McKenzie and 48 percent chose Amy Hopkins. Less than 10 percent of registered voters participated in the election.
But, Baker said there are 8 absentee ballots that the board of elections sent to voters that have not been returned. As long as they arrive at the office and are postmarked on or before May 6, they will be counted.
There was also an absentee ballot returned to the office that had issues that didn’t allow it to be counted immediately. If the voter makes those corrections in a timely manner, Baker said, that vote will be counted.
Also, there were two provisional ballots cast Tuesday, Baker said.
“The provisional ballots will need to be reviewed to make sure they are legal,” Baker said. “But if they are, they will be opened during the public board meeting on May 20.”
The final results of the race won’t be known until that board meeting, Baker said. The board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Clark County Board of Elections Office.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, McKenzie said she is proud of her campaign.
“There is nothing that makes you feel better than having people believe in you and go out and vote for you,” she said. “Friends, family and people in the community. Amy and I both did a really good job. I hope she continues to be involved because she does have a good voice for our community.
Hopkins said she is disappointed with the result but was also happy about the work put into the campaign.
“I am really disappointed but I do feel that Becky is very passionate about it and she wants it,” Hopkins said. “I want to congratulate her. I want to thank everybody that helped me. We all worked so hard.”
Hopkins said she planned to call the elections board Wednesday morning to discuss the possibility of a recount.
McKenzie also said she was going to call the election board Wednesday to see what’s next. The close race proves that two good candidates ran against each other, she said.
“People liked both of us. People came out and voted. The fact that it was a close race shows people cared.”
McKenzie will become the only woman on the council should she be awarded the seat. The seat she is filling has been empty for almost a year.
The city council first attempted to fill Leighty’s position themselves by taking applications and conducting interviews. However, that attempt quickly became contentious.
The council members then tried to select a new member on Aug. 23, but ended up deadlocked between Hopkins and McKenzie. New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds then had an opportunity to call a special meeting on Aug. 29 and planned to appoint his choice - Hopkins, he said.
But, before he was able to do so, it was pointed out by a resident who attended the meeting that the legal advertisement announcing the meeting that was distributed in a local newspaper wasn’t clear about the purpose of the meeting. Because it was unclear if the meeting was legal, Reynolds decided not to appoint Hopkins then.
He attempted to hold an emergency meeting on Aug. 30 — the last day he was eligible to appoint someone to the council. But, New Carlisle Council members Ronald Cobb, Bill Cook and Mike Lowery could not attend that meeting - each saying they had prior engagements. The three men had originally voted to add McKenzie to the council.