WHEELING - After his closest brush with victory yet in a 41-year quest for elected office, apparent runner-up Charlie Ballouz filed for a recount Wednesday morning in the race to represent Wheeling's 2nd Ward.
Election night results showed Ballouz losing to Ken Imer, 175 votes to 173. Ohio County commissioners, sitting as the Board of Elections, upheld those tallies at Monday's formal vote canvass.
Others receiving votes in the race were Aaron T. Wilkinson, 114; Alex Coogan, 99; and Tony Domenick and Desmond Lekanudos, with 70 each, and two write-in candidates.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Charlie Ballouz stops at Heritage Port and the Ohio River on Wednesday after filing for a recount in Wheeling’s 2nd Ward City Council race, where he trails Ken Imer by just two votes.
County Elections Coordinator Toni Chieffalo said Ballouz made the request at about 11:30 a.m., less than six hours in advance of the 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline to challenge the canvass results. The recount, she said, is limited to the five precincts within the 2nd Ward.
Ballouz, who has run for municipal office eight times since 1971, said it was the slim margin in the race that prompted his decision.
"I filed the papers for a recount of the 2nd Ward race because there were only two votes separating us," Ballouz said. "Five copies of my request were made to give to all the other candidates on the ballot. Everyone has to be notified."
The date, time and location of the recount are yet to be determined. Chieffalo said a sheriff's deputy will deliver letters to each of the other five candidates, and once her office has received confirmation of those deliveries, commissioners must wait at least three days before holding the recount.
In order to file the challenge, Ballouz had to post a $25 bond, which County Solicitor Don Tennant said is simply a signed document stating Ballouz's net worth is in excess of that amount. If the recount fails to change the outcome of the election, Ballouz would have to pay the $25.
Tennant said state code sets a maximum bond amount of $300 to initiate the recount process, although the cost of any recount, even a partial one such as in this case, would exceed that sum due to the number of personnel involved. He said the state Legislature's intent in setting that limit was likely to prevent the bond requirement from inhibiting a fair election process.
"It's a decision of the commission as to what would be appropriate," he said.
Chieffalo said two teams of four workers will hand-count each of the more than 700 votes cast in the 2nd Ward race, including absentee and early vote ballots. Provisional ballots that were disallowed during Monday's canvass because the voter didn't follow proper procedure are not subject to further review as part of the recount, she said.
Associate City Editor Heather Ziegler contributed to this report.