Ballot confusion averted…mostly

Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Only six Newcastle City Council candidates for three four-year terms will appear on the 2022 general election ballot because of a “miscommunication” regarding a fourth open council seat, according to City Clerk-Treasurer Stacy Haggerty and Mayor Pam Gualtieri. 

According to Mayor Gualtieri, only three seats were technically up for reelection, the fourth open seat is the result of the Nov. 1, 2021, resignation of former councilman Michael Alexander. The council had decided to not fill the seat until after the upcoming election, leaving the seat open for over a year — creating the circumstance under which the ballot error has occurred.

Haggerty originally reported to Weston County Clerk Becky Hadlock that four, four-year terms were to be listed on the ballot. This meant that the top eight vote-getters in the primary election would be listed as candidates for the four seats, with voters instructed to choose four from the eight.

Instead, only three council seats are up for four-year terms, while another is to fill the remaining two years of Michael Alexander’s term.  The mistake was caught before the general election ballots were printed, and the council held a special meeting on Sept. 13 to discuss the issue. 

According to the minutes from the meeting, Hadlock informed Gualtieri that she was able to adjust the ballot in time for early voting. 

“The two candidates with the lowest number of votes being Maggie Unterseher and Garrett Liggett (both write-in candidates) will be left off the ballot and refunded their filing fees,” the minutes from the meeting state. “There will be an extra section for a write-in to fill the remaining two-year open seat.” 

Gualtieri explained to the News Letter Journal that the six candidates that appear on the ballot will be incumbents Don Steveson and Ann McColley, as well as John Butts, Thomas Voss, Donald Romine and Levi Tacy, who were successful write-in candidates in the primary. Steveson and McColley were the only individuals whose names appeared on the primary ballot, as they were the only ones who filed to run for the seats. Write-in candidates go on to the general election if they are among the top vote-getters and agree to run and pay a filing fee. 

A recent announcement from Hadlock reported that Tacy had withdrawn from the race, throwing another wrinkle into the ballot confusion. 

According to Haggerty, who became the city’s clerk-treasurer in March and is serving in her first election, voters will have the ability to pick three of the six named candidates for the four-year terms, although people are encouraged to not vote for Tacy due to his late withdrawal (after the ballots were printed). 

Voters will also be able to write in a vote for the additional two-year term. Whomever receives the most write-in votes for that term will be appointed to the council to fill the remainder of what was once Alexander’s seat — if they agree to accept the appointment. 


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