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Larry Sykes has squeezed ahead of incumbent Adam Martinez for the sixth and final at-large seat on Toledo City Council, according to results of a vote certification Monday of the Nov. 5 general election.
The Lucas County Board of Elections certified the results, and the final count altered the unofficial tally given on election night, naming Mr. Sykes as the victor over Mr. Martinez by five votes. The results aren’t totally settled, however — because the difference is less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast, an automatic recount is required under state law.
Though finalization of the results is pending that recount, they aren’t likely to change. Republican board member Jon Stainbrook said he could not recall an automatic recount changing an election result in Lucas County.
“Recounts traditionally don’t change anything,” he said. “They just reaffirm the results.”
On election night, Mr. Martinez had narrowly edged out fellow Democrat Mr. Sykes for the last of six at-large council seats in the unofficial count by 39 votes. Mr. Martinez had 19,202, while Mr. Sykes had 19,163.
But after 504 provisional ballots were counted and certified Monday, Mr. Sykes moved ahead of Mr. Martinez by five votes — 19,282 to Mr. Martinez’s 19,277.
Per the law, a random drawing of precincts that make up at least 5 percent of the vote total will be held Wednesday; the recount is scheduled for Dec. 5.
Mr. Martinez said after the certification that he wasn’t surprised Mr. Sykes pulled ahead, but he wasn’t expecting the results to be so close.
“This certainly proves that every vote counts,” he said.
He said he will have election observers on hand for the recount, but said he had already come to grips with the idea he likely will not serve another council term.
“If I lose, I’m OK with that,” he said. “No regrets.”
Mr. Sykes, whose term on the Toledo Board of Education is expiring, said he was humbled at the apparent win. He spoke highly of Mr. Martinez, whom he called a person with a “bright future,” and that he hopes to work with him.
Though he and Mr. Martinez’s political futures have been in limbo for weeks, Mr. Sykes said he’s always believed that he would ultimately prevail in the race.
“I think this situation has been really stressful on everybody,” Mr. Sykes said.
Theresa Gabriel — the fifth-highest vote-getter, retained her spot in the certified results, winning over Mr. Sykes by 88 votes with 19,370. Provisional ballots increased her vote total from 19,274 to 19,370. She said she “looked forward to beginning my service,” and expressed surprise at the razor-thin results.
“This is unbelievable,” she said. “This is very close.”
The results, if upheld in the recount, mean four incumbents will leave council in January. Fellow council member Shaun Enright lost his re-election bid; Joe McNamara gave up council to run for mayor, but lost in the September primary election, and George Sarantou was prohibited by term limits from running again.
In recent years, automatic recounts have upheld election certification results after a count of provisional ballots.
For example, in 2006, Democrat Mike Craig was voted in to represent Toledo council’s District 3 after his five-vote victory over incumbent Taylor Balderas was upheld in an automatic recount. That same year, an automatic recount affirmed the defeat by eight votes of a proposed new 3.5-mill operating levy in the Springfield Local School District.
In the November, 2012, election, a mandatory recount affirmed that a 0.17-mill levy sought by Imagination Station had been approved by 298 votes. It initially appeared to go down in defeat on election night.
Voters cast provisional ballots usually because they have moved and their new address is not included in the voter rolls given to precinct workers or if the voter is already on record as having requested an absentee ballot.
The board staff uses the 10 days after the election to verify that voters live in the precinct where they voted or that their absentee ballot was not mailed in. The board rejected 138 provisional ballots earlier this month as invalid.
There will also be a recount this year in the Ottawa Hills council race. Robert Reichert remained one vote ahead of Edward Shimborske, 570 votes to 569, for the fourth and final seat on the village’s council.