Recount seals Fiala’s mayor victory

Denise Wright

Final results give both candidates a sense of relief

It’s official: Jerry Fiala will take office as Kent’s next mayor in January.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Fiala said. “But I’m still very grateful for what’s happened.”

Yesterday morning’s recount at the Portage County Board of Elections showed no change in the board’s certified count of 2,502 votes each for Fiala and Rick Hawksley. The tie was reported Nov. 20 after provisional ballots were added to the Nov. 3 election report, which showed Fiala with 2,013 of the 4,024 votes cast – only two more votes than Hawksley.

Because the board is required to determine a winner after an official count, a coin flip took place Nov. 20 to determine the winner. The toss ended in Fiala’s favor.

A recount took place per Ohio law because the winning margin was less than half of one percent of the total vote.

Fiala and opponent Rick Hawksley, who serves as an at-large councilman for Kent City Council, were both present for the recount at the Board of Elections yesterday morning.

“I pretty much knew there wouldn’t be any change with the recount,” Hawksley said. “But I thought it was important for me to be there to support the staff and everybody involved and to be there to support my opponent . I wish him well, of course.

“I wouldn’t have run if I didn’t love the city, and I hope he will be as vigorous in pursuing a beautiful city as I would have been if I were mayor.”

Fiala wished his opponent well, too.

“I look forward to working with him,” Fiala said. “Rick represents an important part of this community, and I hope he continues to stay involved.”

Hawksley said he has no immediate plans for staying involved, but he intends to regroup and figure out what lies ahead for him.

“I’m naturally inclined to get involved in the change-making process,” Hawksley said, “and I have a lot of avenues to do that.”

While Fiala said he also needs some rest and relaxation, he plans to make some preparations before taking office Jan. 1. Those preparations include meeting with current Mayor John Fender and City Manager Dave Ruller.

“My wife and I were relieved when the results came down,” Fiala said. “Now the thing to do is get ready for January and fulfilling the duties of the mayor.”

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