The Third Ward council race in the city of Portsmouth is shaping up to be an interesting contest in November. Wednesday, the Scioto County Board of Elections met to certify the May primary election and the final numbers in that race point to the possibility of a close contest in the general election.
The final tally with provisional ballots being counted showed incumbent Councilman Kevin E. Johnson with a slim lead over challenger Jerry Skiver. Johnson picked up 101 votes, while Skiver nailed down 97. What may be the wild card in the contest is the 95 people who voted for Robert E. Gambill. Throw in the 27 people who cast their votes for David W. Duncan too. Where will those votes end up in the November election?
“I don’t know how this will wash out but just in the primary it looked as if Kevin didn’t have enough support as I thought he would,” Skiver said. “That can change. All you’ve got to do is remember back how many primaries we’ve had with a dozen people on the ballot and the votes are going to be spread out according to the people that know them, and that will change in the fall for sure.”
Skiver said he is not concerned about it. He said there is a potential for 2,500 votes in the Third Ward, and only 850 people cast votes.
“Really, the question becomes the fall because if you only had 13 percent turnout, surely you’ll have a bigger turnout in the fall,” Skiver said. “That primary number could be negligible. If that is the case, then the few votes between Kevin and myself is negligible. If a lot more people come out for him than they do for me, then they spoke.”
Johnson says he is “very disappointed” in the voter turnout in May.
“”I’m hoping, in November, that the voters will turn out and vote,” Johnson said. “We had 300 turn out and that’s a very low number compared to the registered voters in the Third Ward. I hope that more voters do come out. As far as the closeness of the race, I think that goes to show you the quality of the field. You had a very tight race by candidates that all had a message and we all have the same goal. We just see a different path of getting to that goal.”
In the First Ward, which had only a 7.9 percent turnout, the vote wasn’t as close. Incumbent Kevin W. Johnson picked up 75 of the 157 votes cast, while his opponent in the November election, Sean Dunne pulled in 56 votes. R. Michael Osborne also had 26 votes in the May primary.
New Boston voters have two at-large seats up for election in November, and Johnny Whisman and Ryan Ottney came away with the most votes and will battle for the two seats available in the general election in November. Whisman had 118 votes, while Ottney received 66 votes.
It would appear on the surface that the two would automatically win the seats, but there is a technicality that means there has to be one more step taken.
“They’re nominated because this is a primary for New Boston,” Scioto County Board of Elections Director Julia Gearheart said. “There could have been Republicans that filed, and no Republican’s petitions were allotted. That’s why there’s no Republican ballot. There could have been five Republicans that filed this time also, so there would have been a Republican and a Democrat, and we would have you nominate two Republicans and two Democrats, but since there was not a Republican who filed, they just nominated two Democrats to go on to November.”
Gearheart said the reason they have to run in November is that there is still a chance that one could decide to drop out, or someone could choose to run as a write-in candidate in the general election.
The final count in the city’s charter amendment showed it passing 474 to 177.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.