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Two ballot issues before Wapakoneta city residents failed to gain passage during Tuesday’s general election, and the Wapakoneta City Council member who championed the efforts accepted the blame for their defeat at the polls.
Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. proposed the two ballot issues to extend the term of council president to four years from two years and stagger his election with that of the city’s mayor and to extend the terms of city councilors to four years from two years and stagger the terms of office of councilors-at-large with those of the ward councilors.
“I am disappointed but I take the responsibility of the failure of the two ballot issues myself,” Finkelmeier told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “While I thought they were a good idea and would be a positive change for the city, my personal responsibilities to my business did not allow me to campaign to educate the voters about it — if you don’t explain them then you can’t expect the people to support it.”
With all eight city precincts voting, voters defeated the issue to change the terms of councilors and stagger their terms by a vote of 2,318, or 57.65 percent, to 1,703, or 42.35 percent. Voters defeated the issue to lengthen the term of council president by a vote of 2,495, or 61.44 percent, to 1,566, or 38.56 percent.
With an approximate 20 percent margin, Finkelmeier said he is unlikely to push for the two issues to be placed before the voters again.
“Very much like the previous street levies — as an income tax and as a property tax — which failed 60 percent to 40 percent, rather than look at the negative, I like to look at the fact that 40 percent of the people supported it,” Finkelmeier said. “So the question would be how in the future could you convince another 10 to 11 percent to support it.
“Would we consider it, we may but I don’t have any plans to soon because it requires effort to campaign and to educate the voters and I don’t have the necessary time to do the issues justice,” he said.
The two-term councilor said he would support the two issues and sees the importance in their passage, which he noted was evident by his proposing the two ballot issues in January.
He said he would support another councilor if they take up the banner to try and get the ballot issues passed by the electorate. He shared that councilors supported the two issues because “they understand the peril” of having all new councilors in office and “they understand the knowledge of government” required to serve as a councilor.
Mayor Rodney Metz said the voters have spoken and councilors should listen to what they said through their vote at the ballot box.
“If another try is to be attempted, I think council needs to discuss that and determine which way they want to go,” Metz said. “They need to determine did the two issues fail because of a lack of information provided to the voters or did it fail because that is their opinion and that is their wishes that the terms stay at two years and the terms not be staggered.”
Despite urging councilors to accept their constituents’ wishes, Metz understands the risks facing council.
“Continuity of council is something that could present a major problem to the city and its function as far as being able to keep moving forward if all or an overwhelming majority of the councilors did not get re-elected,” the mayor said, noting several people approached him and voiced their approval of the two issues. “Several people did ask me if it had ever happened that all the councilors and several of the administrators had been voted off, but I explained to them it is much easier to eliminate a potential problem than to try and fix it after it has already happened.”