Report on Ohio Government: Post Election 2017

Government Relations

Voters Reject Drug Pricing and Approve Victims’ Rights Ballot Issues by Overwhelming Margin

Issue 2, the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, was defeated last night by 79.28%*. The highly controversial measure would have required the state of Ohio to pay no more for pharmaceuticals than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays. There was also a provision for the proponents of Issue 2 to receive outside legal counsel at taxpayer expense should the state decline to defend the initiative in court. Backers of the proposal argued that the measure would lower the cost the state pays for pharmaceuticals and thus result in taxpayer savings. Opponents countered that there was no guarantee that the state could receive the lower price and that the proponents were falsely making it seem as if all Ohioans would have lower drug costs as opposed to just individuals on state funded health plans. Issue 2, which saw long-term, expensive media buys from proponents and opponents alike, broke all spending records in the state for a ballot issue.

Issue 1, officially called the Ohio Crime Victims Bill of Rights but more commonly known as Marsy’s Law for Ohio, garnered 82.59% approval from voters. The constitutional amendment will strengthen crime victims’ rights by adding rights for victims like the right to notification in a timely manner of major proceedings and developments in the case and notification of all changes to an offender’s status and the right to be present at court proceedings. Critics of the measure argued that many of the amendment’s protections were already guaranteed by Ohio law. Ohio is the sixth state to enact such protections for victims of crime.

Cincinnati Elects Mayor and Council

After coming in second in the May primary, Mayor John Cranley has defeated Councilwoman Yvette Simpson by a vote of 53.95% to 46.05% to stay in office. Cranley, who is serving his first term as mayor, and Simpson, who serves as President Pro Tem of Council, are both Democrats and defeated fellow Democrat Rob Richardson, Jr. in the May primary.

City residents had a large slate of 23 candidates to select from to seat the nine-member, at-large city council. With Councilwoman Simpson running for mayor and current members Kevin Flynn and Charlie Winburn not running for re-election, three seats were open. Winners last night included:

Tamaya Dennard
Greg Landsman
David Mann
Amy Murray
Jeff Pastor
Chris Seelbach
Chris Smitherman
P.G. Sittenfeld
Wendell Young

Cleveland Awards Jackson With a Record Fourth Term and Fills All City Council Seats

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson won an unprecedented fourth, 4-year term against Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed. Jackson prevailed over Reed with 59.55% of the vote to Reed’s 40.45 %. Reed challenged Jackson over downtown versus neighborhood spending issues and the need for more public safety forces. This was Jackson’s closest margin of victory since his first election in 2005 when he defeated then Mayor Jane Campbell by 55% of the vote.

Cleveland voters were also voting on all 17 city council seats. Members are elected to four-year terms by ward. Zack Reed’s Ward 2 seat was open, as was Councilman Jeff Johnson’s Ward 10 seat after Johnson chose to run for mayor. While Council President Kevin Kelley retained his Ward 13 seat, three incumbents – Terrell Pruitt, TJ Dow and Brian Cummins – appear to have lost in close races, which may be subject to recount.

Ward 1: Joe Jones
Ward 2: Kevin Bishop
Ward 3: Kerry McCormack
Ward 4: Kenneth Johnson
Ward 5: Phyllis Cleveland
Ward 6: Blaine Griffin
Ward 7: Basheer Jones
Ward 8: Michael Polensek
Ward 9: Kevin Conwell
Ward 10: Anthony Hairston
Ward 11: Dona Brady
Ward 12: Anthony Brancatelli
Ward 13: Kevin Kelley
Ward 14: Jasmin Santana
Ward 15: Matt Zone
Ward 16: Brian Kazy
Ward 17: Martin Keane

Columbus Elects Three Councilmembers and New City Auditor and Prosecutor

Incumbents Mitchell Brown, Shannon Hardin, and Priscilla Tyson were the top vote getters in last night’s election for the three seats up for grabs on the Columbus City Council. The seven council members in the state’s largest city currently serve at large, though there have recently been efforts to introduce a ward system of governance.

Megan Kilgore will be the city’s new Auditor – the first new City Auditor in over 50 years following the retirement of current City Auditor Hugh Dorrian. Kilgore, a former Assistant City Auditor, was endorsed by Dorrian for the job. There will also be a shakeup in the City Prosecutor’s office with the election of current City Council President Zach Klein. Current City Prosecutor Richard Pfeiffer is retiring after 16 years in office.

* All vote counts are preliminary and are of this writing only.

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