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Published: 12/29/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

NOVEMBER ELECTION

Richfield Township's rural jursdiction choices leaned toward GOP, away from levies in 2012

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Richfield Township includes downtown Berkey and has a tractor dealership, a corner carryout, a gas station, and a post office. Richfield Township includes downtown Berkey and has a tractor dealership, a corner carryout, a gas station, and a post office.
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A look at an aerial photo of Richfield Township explains the choice of the township’s name, made way back in 1839. Farm fields rich in soil and crops dot the 22.6-mile jurisdiction like so many patches in a quilt.

It’s the same at ground level — flat farm fields interrupted by houses and barns. It’s also a community rich in political participation.

Recently released vote counts from the Nov. 6 election show Richfield Township had the highest turnout of any of Lucas County’s 39 townships, cities, and Toledo wards, at 82 percent. Of its 1,154 registered voters, 946 Richfield Township residents cast ballots.

And if the rest of Lucas County voted the way Richfield Township did, it would be tough for a Democrat to be elected or a levy to be passed. Voters, who cast ballots in the township fire hall at Washburn Road and Sylvania Avenue, favored Republican Mitt Romney over President Obama 52.3 to 46.2 percent, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel over Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown for U.S. senator.

Republican George Sarantou won the majority of votes for Lucas County recorder over Democrat Phil Copeland, who won the election, the only seriously contested of the county row offices this year.

But voters here aren’t hidebound Republicans; Democratic County Commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and county Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, all of whom had GOP opponents, were approved by a majority of Richfield Township voters as they won re-election.

Trustee John Hassen, 69, a quality-control officer for the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, said he enjoys driving through Toledo and Sylvania to return from work to his rural home and thinks most of the residents are determined to keep the township’s pastoral character.

“I just enjoy the country out here. I think most of the people out here are from [a] couple or three generations of farming and they want to maintain that,” Mr. Hassen said.

The township occupies Lucas County’s northwesternmost corner. According to the U.S. Census, Richfield is 99.9 percent white, with a median income of $80,476, compared with Lucas County, which is 77.4 percent white and has a median income of $41,949. Mr. Hassen said “everybody seems to be working,” and the farmers are happy because they’re getting $7 or $8 for a bushel of corn and $14 to $15 a bushel for soybeans.

As for the levies, “I don’t think we utilize the libraries in Toledo that much,” he said, but was stumped by the defeat of the Metroparks levy. “The Metroparks usually passes.” Secor Metropark is partly in the township.

The village of Berkey in Richfield Township has the Fred Ott Inc. tractor dealership, the Keeler’s Korner carryout, a gas station, a post office, day-care center, a fertilizer distributorship, the town hall out of which the four part-time police officers work, and not much else.

Richfield Center Town Hall was quiet Friday but was expected to ring with the sounds of post-Christmas joy today. That’s because the family of 91-year-old William Kunisch, who has lived in Richfield Center since the early 1950s, has a longstanding reservation to use the town hall to celebrate with his 15 children and their families.

Richfield Center's William Kunisch, 91, a former letter carrier who calls himself a 'conservative liberal,' moved from West Toledo to the township because he didn't like Toledo. Richfield Center's William Kunisch, 91, a former letter carrier who calls himself a 'conservative liberal,' moved from West Toledo to the township because he didn't like Toledo.
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Mr. Kunisch, whose wife, Rita, died three years ago, said he voted for Mr. Romney. The choice of reading material in his house near the center of the village — books by conservative talk-show commentators Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck — backs that up.

A former letter carrier in the Wernert’s Corners area of West Toledo, Mr. Kunisch said he moved here from Washington Township because he didn’t like Toledo. He considers himself “a conservative liberal.” “I vote as an individual. I’m not controlled by organizations. Most of these people aren’t controlled under unions. They are farmers, have their own businesses,” he said.

The Kunisch clan flowed in from Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, and Virginia for the Christmas holiday event that started about 40 years ago — and is still served by the same Fulton County caterer.

Children in Richfield Township go to Evergreen Local schools, based in Fulton County.

“It’s pretty rural,” said Donald Eisel, 65, a farmer and township trustee. “We don’t have subdivisions yet. They kind of end at Sylvania.”

The reason for that is the township has no municipal water supply, other than what’s piped into Berkey. Nor is there sewer or natural gas service — although a gas pipeline along Central Avenue is under construction.

Another major impediment to development is the township’s zoning restriction against housing lots smaller than five acres.

Mr. Eisel said the number of farmers has dwindled over the years, and so has the variety of crops. Now they grow corn, soybeans, and wheat. A few raise hogs.

The township, with a population of 1,598, has one precinct, made up of one ward. In the last presidential election, though, Richfield voters were divided into two precincts.

If compared simply as a single precinct, Richfield Township would not hold the turnout record. The precinct with the highest turnout is Monclova 2, where 89 percent of the registered voters participated in the election. Monclova 2 is essentially a residential subdivision called Waterside.

The ward or township in Lucas County with the lowest turnout was Ward 19, the middle section of East Toledo. Total turnout there among the 5,208 registered voters was 43 percent.

The average turnout for Lucas County was about 68 percent.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

 



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