Finally, the wait is over for the city of Oxford and surrounding community. Tuesday’s general election ended months-if not years-of campaigning and debate over federal, state and local issues. With eyes glued to televisions, the nation watched as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was elected the 44th President of the United States.
On a local level, however, Oxford residents voted and waited for the results on issues close to their hearts.
According to Mayor Prue Dana, the city of Oxford experienced an increase in voter turnout.
“The turnout was absolutely over the top,” Dana said. “We saw (an increase in) voters for the 2000 and 2004 general elections, but they weren’t anything like this.”
While exact numbers for turnout in Oxford’s precincts are not yet available, Dana, who served as a poll worker at the Oxford Community Arts Center for precinct 7, said she predicts the final numbers will be high.
“Last spring in the primaries, some precincts had as little as 30 voters,” Dana said. “This time, each (precinct) was in the hundreds.”
Dana said a large reason for the increased voter turnout was the participation of Miami University students.
“Students aren’t known for getting up early,” Dana said, “but the most astounding thing was that there were lines of both students and residents starting at 6:30 a.m.”
Dana said the crowds at most precincts tapered off into the afternoon yet sustained a steady stream of voters.
“We expected more students to participate but had no idea just how many would,” Dana said.
While young voters like juniors Jorie Ganser and Cory Bailey and sophomore Colin Ackerman played a large role in the election, all three said they were relieved the election is over.
Ackerman, a mass communication and film studies major from Maryland, said he is happy to see the end of campaigning.
“I’m really happy it’s over,” Ackerman said. “Those campaign ads from both sides were really starting to irritate me.”
Ganser, too, expressed her relief.
“This whole running for president campaigning has been going on for two years, and it was just getting ridiculous,” Ganser said. “It does not need to take this long and it costs the people way too much money.”
Despite Bailey’s interest in politics, he said he too was ready for the end of campaigning.
“I typically enjoy the campaigning season, but I knew this election would be tough on the Republicans,” Bailey said. “The excitement wasn’t quite there like it was in 2004.”
Although he was ready for election season to be over, Ganser said the election was very interesting due to its many firsts.
“It’s a great thing that, at least politically, our country has come together and the American people do not discount a candidate based on gender or race,” Ganser said. “This election was one of many firsts. We had a strong female candidate, a female vice presidential candidate, a low intensity war going on at the time and then a credit crisis amidst it all.”
For Ackerman, this election was a time for young voters to unite for the first time.
“After four less-than-perfect years, we were given the opportunity to make a change,” Ackerman said. “It was the first time that my generation came together and wanted the same thing.”
Ackerman said the results came with little surprise.
“I’m obviously not surprised by the election results,” Ackerman said. “I think just about everyone saw it coming. Being pro-Obama, I was pleased with the results, but at the same time, winning the election doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do anything with the opportunity.”
Like Ackerman, Bailey said he was not surprised with the outcome, yet he felt disappointment.
“I’m naturally disappointed considering my candidate and my party were unsuccessful,” Bailey said. “The election of President-elect Obama came as no surprise, the polls have been pointing in that direction for quite a while.”
Although Bailey said he expected Obama’s win, he expressed frustration in other areas.
“I felt more disappointed with the Democrats expanding their lead in the House and the Senate,” Bailey said. “The current Democrat-controlled Congress has extremely low approval ratings and the fact the American people would help them expand their power, despite how unsuccessful they have been, is frustrating.”
While the presidential election was historic in itself, statewide elections created change. With the switch to a Democratic majority in the state House, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said he was satisfied with the results.
“I know our new Democratic House majority stands ready to work in a bipartisan manner to help create new jobs, improve access to health care and help make our schools the best in the nation,” Strickland said in a statement. “They will serve as strong voices for their constituents in the House and will partner with me as we work to move Ohio forward.”
Although the state House may have leaned Democratic, only one seat in the Republican-dominated Butler County was won by a Democratic candidate. Richard Cordray defeated Michael Crites (R) and Robert M. Owens (I) for the position for attorney general.
Kate Currie, Oxford city councilor, said she is not surprised by the lack of Democratic gains locally.
“It’s not surprising because we (Ohio) are overall a strong Republican state,” Currie said. “It will take a while before Democrats filter into more seats statewide and even longer at the county level.”
Currie said she was similarly not surprised by the failure of Issue 6, the measure proposing a constitutional amendment to allow the construction of a casino near Wilmington, Ohio.
“In general, people in Ohio simply aren’t interested in building a casino,” Currie said.
Besides a close focus on the presidential race, Currie said she was most interested in Issue 16, the Talawanda School District bond issue.
According to Phil Cagwin, superintendent for the Talawanda School District, the Issue 16 outcome is pending until all provisional ballots are counted. Cagwin said the measure has a lead of approximately 250 electronic and paper votes after recounting.
Dana said difficulty with an optical scanner at one of the precinct locations led to the recount of approximately 1,500 ballots.
Cagwin said provisional ballots will now be the determining factor in whether the issue passes or fails.
“The only thing remaining is the verification of the provisional ballots,” Cagwin said. “We know today there are 896 provisional ballots for (the) Talawanda (School District).”
Cagwin said the Butler County Board of Elections has two weeks to verify the ballots, count the votes and release an official result.
Despite the wait, Cagwin said he is confident the measure will pass.
“We will have to wait a little longer, but I am confident the issue will pass,” Cagwin said.
According to Mike Crowder, professor of chemistry and member of the Talawanda Board of Education, if the bond issue passes, the board will immediately finish purchasing the property on which the new high school will be built. Crowder said the next step would be to consult architects to survey the property and begin to compose a plan for the new high school in line with state requirements.
To Dana, no matter the result, an election is always a time of change and consideration for the community’s future.
“When people vote, it’s a sign we’re ready to move into the future,” Dana said.