A new councilman will be joining Portsmouth City Council as Shawnee State University Professor Sean Dunne swept in and ended the eight year tenure of First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson. Dunne beat Johnson 223 to 192, earning Dunne 53.73 percent of the vote.
“Great night, great great night!” was Dunne’s initial reaction. “I know some people were very, very surprised by it, but these responses at the door were just incredible.”
Still, Dunne explained that he never expected it to be an easy race.
“He’s an eight year incumbent. That’s a challenge for anybody,” Dunne stated. “I think at the end of the day there were a variety of factors that really sealed it.”
Dunne’s efforts were met by the efforts of students at SSU, who assisted in his victory.
“I give so much credit to the Shawnee University students that worked on my campaign. They were my campaign managers. They were a diverse, incredible group of students that were independent, republican, democrat, all types of political ideologies, European, American African American, Latino American. All of them went out to the door and represented the message that we were putting forward. And, I think it’s such an inspiring thing that these students did. I’m just blown away by it.”
It’s a great win for the community of Portsmouth. I’m just delighted. It’s been an incredible experience, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Dunne explained that he knew the ward supported him from canvassing the ward with his students.
“From talking to those people, it was very clear that more people supported our message,” he commented. “Portsmouth’s First Ward made it clear at the doorsteps that they supported this message, and this message was developed from conversations that I’ve had with people over the last few years of what we wanted more of in the City.”
Dunne explained that his message focused on improving livability within the City.
“One of the things we kept stressing was that we felt very strongly that based upon previous attempts and current ones, that we could incorporate a more aggressive pursuit of grants and a more active transformation of disused spaces to improve or add to our current facilities of the City,” Dunne stated. “There is zero reason why Portsmouth does not have a dog park, to start there.”
In developing his message, Dunne said he focused on bringing the community into discussion regarding goals for Portsmouth. He found that they were frustrated with attempts to get a skate park, to renovate Spartan Stadium or to bring about other recreation facilities.
“There was no valid reason for why we aren’t driving these things forward,” said Dunne.
He added that development of such facilities assists in job creating, showing people looking to invest in the area that the City is a great place to live.
“The vote wasn’t for one person,” Dunne concluded. “I don’t look at it as for me. The vote was for engaging in community spirit. It’s just a great result for the Portsmouth community, not just the First Ward but the entire community.”
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.