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How Covington Voted on Historic Election Night

The sixteenth floor of the Radisson Hotel was packed as Covington city officials, candidates, media, and guests waited for numbers to start rolling in during The River City News Live Election Results Party. By the end of the evening, Covington had elected its first female mayor in one of the tightest races for the city's top job in a generation. In fact, the city commission, including the mayor, will be majority female for the first time ever. That commission will also include an African-American, Covington's first since the late nineties.

Sherry Carran, whose elected career started with a 2006 upset over incumbent city commissioner Alex Edmonson during the one-and-only election in which Covington voted in wards that picked only one candidate, and who was swept into her third term in 2010 as the top vote-getter, will be sworn in as mayor in January. She defeated fellow city commissioner Steve Casper 5,660 votes to 5,209, a margin of just 451 votes.

Each had their strongest showings at opposite ends of the city with the battle for the mayor's job landing squarely in the middle of Covington, Latonia. Carran racked up big victories at precincts Downtown, in Mainstrasse Village, her native Botany Hills, Peaselburg, Monte Casino, Wallace Woods, Levassor Park, Austinburg, and Helentown. While other precincts were closer victories for Carran, Casper did manage to win two precincts in the urban core, both in the city's predominantly African-American Eastside.

Casper's strongest showing was in South Covington where he also dominated during the primary where he and Carran faced off in a three-way race to narrow the field to two. Carran also finished on top in May, but her large lead was shrunk when South Covington's three precincts reported. On Tuesday, Carran maintained a roughly three-to-five hundred vote lead for most of the evening, even when South Covington was added. Casper scored 58% of the vote in two of the precincts but the third, while going to Casper, was close to a tie. 

The battleground would be Latonia where the two candidates were basically tied in every precinct, with less than ten votes separating them in at least three. Casper needed to run up big wins in South Covington and did, but Carran's large wins (she scored over 60% of the vote in four precincts) along the river and in the Downtown neighborhoods were too much to overcome.

In the city commission race, incumbent Steve Frank won big with 6,118 accumulated while winning twenty of twenty-seven precincts and the absentee votes. First-time candidates Michelle Williams and Chuck Eilerman finished second and third with 5,211 and 4,765 votes respectively, and former city commissioner Mildred Rains won the fourth and final seat with 4,627 votes. This marks Rains's first electoral victory in four attempts at gaining a seat on the city commission. She was appointed to finish a term vacated by Steve Megerle in 2009. Candidate Greg Paeth finished fifth with 4,510 votes, missing a seat by 117 votes. 

Candidate Roger Hamilton, who disappeared from the campaign trail after the May primary finished sixth with 2,541 votes. Candidates Ed Faulkner and Neil Gilreath withdrew from the race but their names were still on the ballot and they each picked up 2,315 and 1,514 votes, respectively. 

Write-in candidate and recently retired firefighter Alan "Chip" Terry managed to score 1,329 votes in the very difficult process of waging a write-in campaign. 

Frank was dominant in the race, winning precincts north, south and central. In precincts in which he did not win, he never finished lower than second. Usually it was Williams or Eilerman battling with Frank for the top two spots in each precinct but Rains and Paeth each had their strong areas as well. In all, Frank won twenty precincts and the absentees while Williams won four and Eilerman, Paeth, and Rains each won one.

Williams won two precincts in her native Eastside and scored victories in Helentown and a Lewisburg/Mainstrasse Village precinct. Rains won her native Monte Casino and finished second in a West Latonia precinct and in an eastern Latonia precinct. Eilerman won a Licking Riverside precinct and finished a strong second in other riverfront precincts and in Rosedale and Wallace Woods. Paeth won a victory in his native Old Seminary Square while his other strongest showing was a second place finish in Levassor Park.

Everything else went to Frank.

The Covington School Board race which attracted nine candidates for three open seats proved to be a landslide for retired educator Joyce Baker who ran away from the field with 3,789 votes and victories in twenty-four of twenty-five precincts. Kerry Holleran finished second with 2,390 votes and won the one precinct not won by Baker in Licking Riverside. Incumbent Glenda Huff won a fourth four-year term with a third-place finish and 2,276 votes. 

The rest of the field was farther behind with Rebecca Pettigrew at 1,838, incumbent Mike Fitzgerald at 1,828, Tom Miller at 1,615, Christi Blair at 1,438, Everett Dameron at 1,355, and Jo Rogers at 1,095.

Most of the precincts featured some combination of Baker, Holleran, and Huff in the top three, though Dameron finished second in two riverfront precincts, Pettigrew was strong in Mainstrasse Village and Botany Hills, and Fitzgerald had his best results in his native Latonia.

The school board race was one of the most watched in the city on Tuesday and was unusually competitive. Baker and Holleran were the top fundraisers and Huff was an incumbent. They were all three endorsed by the only incumbent not running for reelection, Krista Powers, kust hours before the polls opened. Dameron, Miller, and Rogers had their campaigns closely associated and also had funds raised for them together and they appeared together at several events.

Those sets of three candidates were widely viewed as two opposing sides. 

PHOTO: Covington Mayoral Map