Voters go for well-known faces in mayoral races

 Messenger photo by Pat Donahue

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman and Columbus City Council President Michael Mental are encouraged by the Democrats’ sweep of council and excited about taking Columbus into its bicentennial over the next four years. Coleman, who defeated opponent Bill Todd by a 40 percent margin, thanked the Columbus voters at the Westin Hotel in downtown Columbus.

Eastside voters chose mayors familiar with the workings of city hall Nov. 6, including one former mayor returned to office, and selected a few new faces for council and other offices, according to unofficial results.

Brennan is Bexley’s next mayor

John Brennan, a former Bexley City Council member and president, came out ahead in a field of eight candidates to replace David Madison, garnering 1,054 votes.

"John will do a good job. He cares for the city," commented Madison, who defeated Brennan by 29 votes in 1995.

The eight-term mayor’s advice to his successor is "care, be patient and listen to the residents."

City Councilman Matt Lampke polled the second-highest number of votes, at 999, with former school board member Gene Weiss collecting 947.

The field was rounded out by retired financial consultant and business owner William Harvey, 424; City Councilwoman Robyn Jones, 393; Bill Minckler, the city’s technology director, 180; Travis Irvine, a 24-year-old independent filmmaker, 196; and Scott Weinblatt, 18, a Bexley High School senior, 46.

Brennan, the parks and recreation director for Hilliard, credited his strong name recognition and door-to-door campaigning in putting him at the head of the pack.

"I think I’m the right person for the job at this point in time," Brennan said.

Wasting no time, Brennan planned to attend a Nov. 7 city budget discussion, and the Nov. 14 meeting scheduled to debate the future of Jeffrey Mansion.

Working to achieve a balanced budget for 2008 will be a priority, Brennan said.

He will also be meeting with the police chief and other administrators to review current plans for a new police station.

Brennan will have experienced council members to work with, and one newcomer, starting in January.

Longtime representatives Mark Masser and Jeff McClelland were returned to office, with vote totals of 2,524 and 2,333,  respectively.

Former council member Jed Morison, edged out after two terms in 2005, made a comeback in the five-way race for four seats, receiving 2,351 votes.

Ben Kessler earned his first term on council by picking up 2,334 votes. Hanz Wasserburger, appointed by council earlier this year to fill on unexpired term, trailed the field.

Kessler, in his first campaign, also believed that knocking on a lot of doors and talking to residents put him over the top.

He learned that many of those residents are concerned about plans to build a new police station on Main Street, and would like to see locations such as Delmar Avenue considered.

There is also "overwhelming support" for balancing the budget, which Kessler, a real estate and financial analyst, wants to achieve.

On the school board, incumbent Joan Fishel was re-elected, and Craig Halliday, who has been active with levy campaigns and the Bexley Education Foundation, gained the other available seat over Michelle Kusma and William French.

Wolfe returns in Whitehall

In Whitehall, former mayor John Wolfe defeated incumbent mayor, Lynn Ochsendorf, with a 61 to 39 percent lead, collecting 1,580 votes to his opponent’s 1,016.  

Ochsendorf, who has previously served as City Council president, said, "Certainly I’m disappointed, but I wish nothing but the best for the next administration."  

"I am elated that the community has confidence in me and my ability to bring things forward," said Wolfe, who did not run for re-election four years ago because of term limits.  "Some people think things are not going in the direction they should, and they want change."

City Councilman Michael Shannon prevailed over former city attorney Dennis Fennessey, 1,317 to 1,161, and will occupy the city attorney’s position for the next four years.  

Auditor Kim Maggard will retain her position.  She received 1,701 votes over Glenna Henson’s 778.

Incumbent Treasurer Charles Underwood won over former council member Larry Gilmore to retain his position as treasurer, with 1,256 votes to his opponent’s 1,014.


The council-at-large race had six candidates.  The highest number of votes was received by Ward 1 Councilman Chris Rodriguez with 1,492.  Jim Graham will retain his at-large seat, and received 1,445 votes  The third winner was Jacquelyn Thompson, who edged by retired police officer, Adrian "A.J." Roberts.  Albert Martin and Paul Werther received 638 and 632 votes, respectively.  

Rodriguez will vacate his ward seat, with two years remaining in his term.  Council will have to appoint his replacement.  Both Roberts and Martin reside in Ward 1, and were the only other residents interested in running for the council-at-large seat in the general election.

McCloud to succeed McPherson

In Reynoldsburg, former City Council president Brad McCloud will take over as mayor, a position held by Robert McPherson for the last 20 years.

McCloud, a Republican, received 2,689 votes, while his opponent, James Casteel, a Democrat and former Reynoldsburg police officer, received 1,863. Independent Richard Donovan collected 1,355 votes.

Incumbent Councilman and Democrat Preston Stearns was edged out by Fred Deskins, 675 to 667, which is close enough for a recount.

Councilman Doug Joseph held off a challenge by attorney Norm Brusk, receiving 968 votes to Brusk’s 740, and Mel Clemens retained his seat against Chris Long, 558 to 426.

Truro Township Fiscal Officer Nancy Schroyer was unseated by Natalie West, 1,885  to 1,619.

Voters returned Mary Burcham to the Reynoldsburg school board, with 2,967 votes, and the remaining seat went to Charles "Chip" Martin, who received 2,182 votes, topping Tom Drabick and Bill Sampson.

Democrats dominate in Columbus

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman,a Democrat, easily defeated his Republican opponent, Bill Todd, with slightly more than 69 percent of the vote to Todd’s 30 percent, to earn his third term.

The Democratic sweep was completed as incumbent City Council members Charleta Tavares, Michael Mentel, Hearcel Craig, all eastside residents, and Andrew Ginther, retained their seats.

Priscilla Tyson, also an eastsider, held off a challenge by Eastmoor resident Heidi Samuel, a community activist making her first run for public office, to fill an unexpired term.

Tyson, Ginther and Craig were all appointed earlier this year to fill vacancies left by departing representatives.

Columbus school board members Terry Boyd, Stephanie Groce and W. Shawna Gibbs were re-elected, and Gary Baker will join the board in January. Member Jeff Cabot lost his bid for re-election.

– Staff writer Dianne Garrett contributed to this report.

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