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Letter circulated urging voters to oust specific council members
Firing City Manager Tim Hansley changed the election, resident Carol Carter told the Pickerington City Council on election day.
"Yes, you did influence the public's vote," Carter said. "Yes, you made a lot of people mad."
In the race for city council, Jeffrey Fix and Cristie Hammond, who voted against firing Hansley, won their bids for re-election.
Michael Sabatino, who voted to fire Hansley, lost.
Whether the voters turned against Sabatino because of Hansley cannot be determined.
However, the week before the election, Councilman Keith Smith sent letters to residents urging them to vote against Sabatino.
Smith, who did not seek re-election, has been the most outspoken of the pro-Hansley council members.
A friend of Sabatino received one of the letters, which he forwarded to Sabatino.
Sabatino provided a copy of the letter to the Eastside Messenger along with a written rebuttal.
In the letter, Smith wrote, "I would like to urge you not to vote for incumbent Mike Sabatino."
Sabatino fired a well-respected community member without providing a reason, Smith said.
"I believe that you have the right, as a voter and constituent, to know the facts behind the decisions made by your elected officials," Smith wrote.
The city must pay Hansley $58,000 in severance, Smith said.
"Why do these elected officials continue to refuse to provide to the public specific reasons for their vote, while sticking us with the bill?" Smith wrote.
In his written response, Sabatino said that he had "taken the high road" by not discussing Hansley's termination as an election issue.
Sabatino said he believes that Smith distributed the "poison letter" because Sabatino voted against electing Smith to the Charter Review Commission (CRC).
"In my opinion, Mr. Smith is attempting a last ditch effort at retribution because he did not get his way on certain issues," Sabatino wrote.
Sabatino said in the letter the details of an employee's termination should remain confidential.
"My vote was correct and if it was being taken today, I would vote the same way," Sabatino wrote.
Councilman Brian Wisniewski, who also voted for Hansley's termination, lost his bid for Violet Township Trustee to the two incumbents - Terry Dunlap and Harry Myers.
In other business, the police received two more donations for a new police dog.
The BW Tire of Pickerington, Ltd. Donated $1,000 and the Big Walnut Charity Fund donated $1,500.
Thus far, the donations total "roughly" $24,000 and the department needs to raise $26,000, Police Chief Michael Taylor said.
On Nov. 12, the police will hold an all-day fundraiser at the Pickerington Max and Erma's to benefit the K-9 Unit.
With a special coupon available at the police department, 20 percent of a customer's bill will benefit the department.
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