Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner thanked the voters and said the current COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of why health departments are needed, after voters approved an 0.5-mill operating levy on its third try, 2,258 to 2,119, according to unofficial primary election results from the Highland County Board of Elections.
The five-year operating levy will generate approximately $360,000 for the health department, which Warner previously said would bring funding rates up to present-day levels.
In a preview story before the new coronavirus delayed the election and forced voters to cast ballots by mail, Warner said the health department would be on life-support and in critical condition by Jan. 1, 2021, if a levy was not passed before then.
“I am cautiously optimistic that our levy approval will last after the provisional ballots and any remaining mail-in ballots are counted,” Warner said Wednesday. “We will know for sure on May 12, and I am not really going to breathe easy until then. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unmistakable reminder of why we have local health departments, and a reminder of the health department’s important role in protecting the health and safety of our residents.”
The levy will cost the owner of a property valued at $100,000 about $15.75 annually.
“I want to thank the voters of Highland County for their support. This funding is vital to our health department’s budget,” Warner said. “COVID-19 has challenged our staff in many ways over the last couple of months, and I am so enormously proud of the work that our team has been doing. This group of health department employees truly exemplifies what it means to be a public servant.”
In the only other contested issue in the county, a cemetery maintenance issue for Penn Township was defeated by the unofficial tally of 107 to 85.
David Tolliver, election administrator for the Highland County Board of Elections, described primary voting in the county as light, with a voter turnout rate of 17.31 percent.
“Turnout was light, compared to what we saw in 2016. We had about 8,000 turn out then and this time we had 4,528,” Tolliver said. “We were done about 8:30 (p.m.), we had to wait on the state to release it, so we didn’t get out of here until about 10. We had a lot of our results tallied by about 8:30.”
He said the board of elections can start its official count as early as May 8.
“And the state says they have to be done by May 19, so we’re shooting to be done on the 12th or 13th, so it’ll probably be on the 12th that we’ll have those final results,” Tolliver said.
He said to keep in mind that absentee ballots and those that were postmarked by the April 27 deadline still have to be tallied, so some of the numbers could change.
In a contested U.S. Congress 2nd District Republican primary, incumbent Brad Wenstrup defeated H. Robert Harris, 2,775 to 188.
Unofficial vote totals for several uncontested Highland County positions were as follows:
* Rocky Coss, common pleas court judge (General Division) 1,091 votes
* Kevin Greer, common pleas court judge (Juvenile and Probate divisions) 2,716 votes
* David T. Daniels, county commissioner, 2,560 votes
* Terry L. Britton, county commissioner, 2,581 votes
* Anneka Collins, prosecuting attorney, 2,529 votes
* Dwight Hodson, clerk of courts, 2,711 votes
* Donnie Barrera, sheriff, 2,713 votes
* Chad E. McConnaughey, recorder, 2,669 votes
* Vickie L.Warnock, treasurer, 2,668 votes
* Chris M. Fauber, engineer, 2,627 votes
* Jeff Beery, coroner, 2,733 votes
In the Highland County presidential primary, Republican incumbent Donald J. Trump received 2,879 votes. On the Democratic side, Joseph R. Biden Jr. led the way with 910 votes, Bernie Sanders 222, Elizabeth Warren 41, Michael R. Bloomberg 36, Pete Buttigieg 18, Amy Klobuchar 17 and a handful of others with less than 10 votes.