WHEELING - Two votes have kept Charlie Ballouz from realizing his dream to be elected to Wheeling City Council representing the 2nd Ward.
On Monday morning, Ohio County election officials held a formal canvass of the May 8 primary election. After two hours of vote tabulations, election officials announced that Ken Imer won the 2nd Ward council post, beating Ballouz with 175 votes to 173 votes. Imer replaces longtime Councilman Vernon Seals, who is retiring after serving on council since 1988.
The other candidates in the 2nd Ward race included Tony Dominick, who picked up one additional vote during the canvass for a total of 70 votes; Alex Coogan, 99; Aaron T. Wilkinson, 114; Desmond Lekanudos, 70. Two write-in votes also were received.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Wheeling City Clerk Janice Jones watches with outgoing Councilman Vernon Seals, center, and candidate Charles Ballouz as the vote for the 2nd Ward council seat is canvassed Monday morning. Ken Imer bested Ballouz by a two-vote margin and will replace Seals, who is retiring.
The Ohio County Commission, sitting as the Board of Elections, kept watch over the proceedings as election officials, led by Election Clerk Toni Chieffalo, worked out the details of a complicated balloting process that included a number of provisional votes that were thrown out due to some voters' confusion over voting in the proper precinct.
Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart had asked the commissioners if the 2nd Ward results could be the first to be canvassed, as that was the race with the closest results from the May 8 primary.
Democrat Committee member Frank Ellis and Republican Committee member Greg Smith also witnessed the canvass. City Clerk Janice Jones was on hand as well.
Ballouz and Imer both attended the canvass. Commissioner David Sims informed Ballouz that he had 48 hours to initiate a challenge to the official results. In order to challenge the results, Ballouz would have to post a bond of no more than $300 to cover the cost.
Ballouz said he planned to meet with county Solicitor Donald Tennant this morning to discuss the possibility of a formal challenge and whether he wanted to go to the time and expense of another recount.
In the event that Ballouz and Imer had tied for the council seat and no challenge to the vote count was made, the winner would have been decided by the toss of a coin.
Late Monday, Chieffalo noted that while there were a few changes to vote totals after figuring in provisional and absentee ballots, none of the new figures affected the outcome in any of the May 8 primary races.
Chieffalo said 8,802 ballots were cast in the election, including 7,298 on Election Day and 1,316 early votes. The Republican Party recorded 3,759 voters, while Democrats cast 4,955 votes. There were 88 nonpartisan ballots cast.