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Rick Rodgers Wins Martins Ferry City Council Democrat Primary

Photo by Robert A. DeFrank Belmont County Board of Elections members Michael Shaheen, left, and Robert Quirk count two absentee ballots Thursday in Martins Ferry City Council’s 4th Ward Democrat primary election. Incumbent Councilman Rick Rodgers won by a single vote and will go on to run in November’s general election.

Incumbent Rick Rodgers was re-elected to the 4th Ward seat on Martins Ferry City Council after the Belmont County Board of Elections met Thursday to count a tie-breaking absentee vote.

Rodgers will go on to run in the general election on Nov. 5 if a challenger files to run against him.

After the May 7 Democrat primary election, unofficial vote totals showed that Rodgers was tied with challenger Larry Deaton. Each candidate received 24 votes, according to the count on Election Day. Elections board members Robert W. Quirk, Lois J. Doneson, Chairman Michael Shaheen, Director Kelly McCabe and Deputy Director Aaron Moore were present. Board member Frankie Lee Carnes was absent.

Two absentee ballots were received within the proper time frame to be counted at the Thursday canvass. One of those mailed ballots, however, was blank.

“It was not filled out,” Shaheen said. “There was only one additional vote to be tabulated, and it was for Mr. Rodgers. So, the final is Mr. Rodgers 25, Larry Deaton, 24, 49 total votes.”

McCabe added that the election result will not trigger an automatic recount, since there must be a difference between candidates’ vote totals that ranges from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the overall total.

“But with 49 … each vote is 2 percent,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen added that this election proved to be very unusual.

“Out of all 70 (precincts in the county) we only had one election, and it was for one ward in one precinct,” he said. “It seems odd that someone would take that empty ballot, go to the trouble of returning it and not vote on it. I’m thrilled that we have a winner, but I was kind of looking forward to flipping a coin.”

A coin-flip would have been one of the possible methods for deciding the race if it had remained a tie.

The moments before the announcement of the winner Thursday were tense. Rodgers said the election could have gone either way.

“I’m glad that it’s over. I thank those that voted either for Larry or for me. It is greatly appreciated. It tells me that I still have a lot of work to do, and I’m not afraid to work,” he said. “I try my best. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. I acknowledge my mistakes, and I’m willing to re-evaluate anything and everything that I do.”

Rodgers added that he would continue to be attentive to the issues of 4th Ward residents and strive to be readily approachable.

“I’m open, and I will investigate your problems for you and try to the best of my ability to get that accomplished,” he said. “I take this position very seriously.”

Rodgers has served on council for more than three years. He serves on the audit, annexation, code administration and safety committees and is chairman of the street and public relations committees. He also is liaison to the division of development and to the Martins Ferry Chamber of Commerce.

Deaton could not be reached for comment Thursday.

McCabe had said at the time of the election in Precinct 13 that there were 838 registered voters not affiliated with any political party; 173 registered voters affiliated with the Democrat Party; and 100 registered voters affiliated with the Republican Party. That amounts to a total of 1,111 registered voters. Of that total, only 48 people cast ballots at the polling location; the two mailed absentee ballots brought the total turnout to 50 voters, or 4.5 percent of all the people who were eligible to vote in the precinct.

Belmont County had no other races during the primary, and there were no statewide issues for voters to decide. The board of elections will hold its next meeting at 4 p.m. June 20 at 103 Plaza Drive, St. Clairsville.

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