Fairfield City Council election a lesson in civics: Every vote counts

Fairfield’s City Council race in the Nov. 7 election was the latest example of how every vote counts.

Nine votes separated incumbent Councilman Bill Woeste, who won the third seat in this month’s general election, and former council member Terry Senger, who finished in fourth-place.

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“It’s really a civics lesson,” said Woeste, who won his second four-year term. “Every vote really does count, and years ago I was pretty much one of those people (who didn’t believe that).”

But it’s not quite over.

The Fairfield election will be the subject of an automatic recount on Friday morning because the vote difference between Woeste and Senger is less than a half percent. However, since Butler County went to electronic voting more than a decade ago, no automatic recount has been overturned, or even altered from the official run.

Officially, Ron D’Epifanio was the top vote-getter with 3,486 votes, or 23.54 percent, followed by Councilman Chad Oberson with 2,944 votes, or 19.88 percent, and then Woeste with 2,890 votes, or 19.51 percent.

Senger finished with 2,881 votes, or 19.45 percent, and Councilman Mike Snyder received 2,610 votes, or 17.62 percent.

While Woeste is “relieved” the official result, pending the automatic recount, has him in third place, he’s ready to continue to work on what he said he has championed the past four years, which includes economic growth and the city’s opioid task force.

D’Epifanio said he’s “grateful” to the voters for making him the top vote-getter, and said he has no problem with going from mayor — a position he previously held for eight years — to a member of council.

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“I will do whatever I can to keep the cohesiveness among the council,” he said.

D’Epifanio said while on the campaign trail residents cited property maintenance as their top concern.

“People are really, really concerned about the upkeep of property around the city and how the properties are maintained,” he said.

He also wants to attract millennials to the city, finding ways “to encourage them to move here, and stay here.”

That’s something Oberson said he wants to see happen, too.

“We need something that will attract millennials more,” said Oberson, adding that entertainment venues may need to be changed up or the weekly summer concert series, Groovin’ on the Green, may need a makeover.

He said the city is not using its venues in the ways that attract millennials, and cites how Hamilton has attracted that generation with its music venues and events.

“That’s where we need to be, and we’re not there,” Oberson said.

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Both are also concerned with the city’s spending and credit rating.

Oberson said he wants to increase the city’s rainy-day fund from 25 percent to 27 percent, which will help borrowing power, but he doesn’t want the spend money without weighing if it’s really needed or beneficial

“Just because it’s a quality of life issue doesn’t mean you do it,” he said. “Everything can be considered a quality of life issue.”

D’Epifanio said he wants to make sure the city’s credit rating, which is Moody’s second-highest rating at Aa1, “and be even more prudent with our spending.”

“We have to watch the spending and yet to be able to provide the services that our residences pay for with their tax dollars,” he said.

The automatic recount is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday and could take a few hours. The council members-elect will take their oath of office near the end of December.

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