(Updated at 9:10 a.m. 11-4) Absentee ballots have turned a three-vote lead into a more comfortable margin for Democrat Mike Aspacher in his race against Republican Roger Mazzarella in Bowling Green's Third Ward.
When tabulations including absentee ballots were released around 12:30 this morning, Aspacher held an 828 to 792 edge on Mazzarella.
Control of Bowling Green City Council hinges on the outcome of the race, after Republican Mark Hollenbaugh unseated Democrat Jacob Redfern for the First Ward seat.
Provisional ballots have yet to be counted. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said provisional ballots won't be verified and counted for 21 days.
If Aspacher wins the seat, Democrats will hold a 4-3 edge on council. A Mazzarella win gives Republicans a 4-3 edge. It would be the first time Republicans have controlled BG council in two decades.
"All I can point to is lots of doors and face time with the voters. I didn't have a lot of money budgeted," Hollenbaugh said. A government teacher at North Baltimore High School, Hollenbaugh said he does not want to wait until January to get started on getting Bowling Green State University students involved in the city.
"I want to get a hold of Undergraduate Student Government and other organizations and sit down and talk about more involvement," he said.
Republican Robert McOmber was easily re-elected to a second at-large term, while Democrat Joel Kuhlman will take the seat being vacated by Democrat Larry Sorrells. Republican William Herald finished third in the race for two seats. Herald is a former Fourth Ward representative. McOmber had 3,075 votes, Kuhlman 2,595 votes and Herald 2,498 votes.
"It feels good to be re-elected," McOmber said. "With the income tax not passing the job will be a little bit tougher."
Hollenbaugh defeated Redfern, 182 votes to 150. Redfern was appointed last summer to fill the unexpired term of Gordy Heminger, who left BG for a job in Indiana.
Democrat John Zanfardino maintained his Second Ward seat, defeating independent Rob Emmelhainz, 449 votes to 256 votes, while Mike Frost was unopposed in his bid to continue representing the Fourth Ward. Frost received 1,943 votes.
Photo captions: Mike Aspacher (top photo) and Roger Mazzarella (lower photo) await returns Tuesday night. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
Front page: Republicans (from left) Bill Herald, David Kuebeck, Bob McOmber, Tim Brown watch returns Tuesday night. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)