City council seat still undetermined

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Six men entered the race for Ironton City Council, but only three could claim victory.

But at least one seat was still undecided.

Incumbents Chuck O’Leary had a four-vote advantage over with Michael Lutz — 1,498 to 1,494 — for a difference of just .05 percent.

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But there are provisional votes that have not been counted by the Lawrence County Board of Elections. However, both men could end up on the council anyway.

Seats held by O’Leary, Richard Price and Rick Meeks were up for grabs on city council. A fourth seat is open because councilman Rich Blankenship was voted in as city mayor. Council will appoint someone to the seat, traditionally the next highest vote getter. After it’s determined whether O’Leary of Lutz in the winner, the other will be the next highest vote getter.

O’Leary said it all comes down to the provisional votes.

“I may not win, but I appreciate everyone who voted for me,” he said.

He is the vice-mayor and council president of the current council. He said it would be a relief in one sense to be just a councilman.

“Sometimes you find it tough sitting up there by yourself, but I’ve enjoyed it,” O’Leary said.

Lutz said even though it’s up in the air, he entered the race for all the right reasons.

“The potential to be on there is excellent,” he said. “I absolutely want the opportunity. However, Chuck O’Leary is a fine man so if I were not in the race and running neck and neck with him, I’d be upset if he were not elected. Chuck needs to be on the council.”

He said if he gets on he will be thrilled and do everything he could to help the city progress.

The top vote getter of the night was attorney Kevin Waldo who got 1,911 or 22 percent of the vote.

“I am thrilled and excited to be voted in. It’s a very rewarding (position),” he said. He added that he has run unsuccessfully for two other elected positions, a municipal judgeship in 2005 and for common pleas judgeship in 2006.

“I am anxious to get started and to continue the positive things that are in place now,” he said. “I think it is a real opportunity to do some really good things.”

Contractor Frank Murphy got 1,552 (18 percent).

Murphy said he felt overwhelmed by being voted to council.

“But I feel good, excited,” he said. “I’m glad we had a good turnout at the polls, I would like to see 100 percent but I know that is impossible.

Voter turnout was 38.12 percent, which was a little higher than the expected 33 percent turnout. Lawrence County has 43,006 registered voters. On Tuesday, 16,393 voted.

“I got a lot of support,” Murphy said. “I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me.”

Murphy said the two major issues facing the city was cleaning up the dilapidated buildings and creating more jobs to create more revenue for the city coffers.

Incumbent Meeks got 1,270 votes (15 percent) and Robert Smith got 845 votes (10 percent).