Ballouz Comes Up Short by One Vote

WHEELING – Ken Imer defeated Charlie Ballouz by just one vote to become Wheeling’s next 2nd Ward councilman.

The result was determined Tuesday in a recount of votes cast in the May 8 election.

Unofficial election night results showed Ballouz losing to Imer by just two votes, prompting Ballouz to call for the recount. A total of six candidates were seeking election to the seat being vacated by long-time 2nd Ward Councilman Vernon Seals, who did not seek re-election this year.

Ballouz gained one vote in the recount, while candidate Tony Domenick lost one, said Toni Chieffalo, Ohio County coordinator of elections. Vote totals after Tuesday’s recount showed Imer with 175 votes; Ballouz, 174; Aaron Wilkinson, 115; Alex Coogan, 99; Desmond Lekanudos, 70; and Domenick, 69.

Ohio County commissioners next will meet to certify the results, Chieffalo added.

“I’m just glad it’s done,” Imer said. “Now it’s time to get things in order and go to work for the city.”

Ballouz said he will look at what other avenues might be available to address his narrow defeat.

“I’m satisfied with what they did,” he said of Ohio County elections officials involved with the recount. “The results are hard to swallow. But what has to be has to be.”

Ballouz added the recount “set a precedent” reminding voters that every vote is important and does count. He noted residents of the 2nd Ward often are the most affected by council decisions and said “they have lost by one vote.”

“People have to get out and vote and exercise that privilege,” Ballouz said. “We are a poor voting people – especially those who live in the high rises. To lose by two votes is bad, but by one is even worse.”

Ballouz is a resident of Windsor Manor. He has run for Wheeling City Council on numerous occasions since the 1970s, but he doesn’t think he will be on the ballot again.

“I think this is it,” he said.

Tuesday’s recount began at about 9:20 a.m. and concluded just before 3:30 p.m.

It involved only votes cast in the 2nd Ward council race encompassing precincts 24, 31, 36, 60 and 69.

Ohio County elections workers read off votes from spools of paper receipt tape contained within the electronic voting machines. Republican ballot commissioner Greg Smith was present, as was county Democratic Party co-chairman Rocky Fitzsimmons.

Imer attended the recount proceedings until the noon recess for lunch, while Ballouz stayed throughout the day.

Wheeling City Council members will take office in July.

Two new council members – Imer and David Miller, elected in the 4th Ward – will join incumbents Gloria Delbrugge, 1st Ward; Robert “Herk” Henry, 3rd Ward; Don Atkinson, 5th Ward; and Vice Mayor Gene Fahey, 6th Ward.

Incumbent Mayor Andy McKenzie also was re-elected in a race against Jerome Poynton.