Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Nov. 6 newspaper on Page A1.
NELSONVILLE — The youngest member of Nelsonville City Council will soon have a new title in town.
Taylor Sappington unseated incumbent Nelsonville City Auditor Garry Dickerson at the polls, with a margin of a few-dozen votes.
Sappington won with 389 votes to Dickerson’s 358, according to unofficial results provided by the Athens County Board of Elections on Tuesday. There are provisional ballots still to be counted later this month, but it is unlikely this 31-vote margin would change.
“I’m ready to get to work,” Sappington posted to social media on Tuesday evening. “Thank you Nelsonville for everything.”
Local voters also made decisions on a crowded ballot of Nelsonville City Council candidates. This was divided into two races.
The first involved four candidates vying for two unexpired terms to end Dec. 5, 2021. Winning those seats were Cory Taylor (356 votes) and Greg Smith (310), with Dottie Fromal (297) and Andrea Reany (211) appearing to fall short.
Fromal and Smith were the two incumbents in that race, though only Smith will stay on Council per these results. Smith is among the longest sitting members of Council, touting a record spanning back more than 20 years. Among his priorities are removing blight in the city by utilizing the Athens County Land Bank.
Taylor, meanwhile, is a former Councilman who successfully earned another chance to serve. He has stated a desire to complete the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant project and help the city become cleaner and safer.
The other race involved five candidates vying for full four-year terms on Council. There were three seats available.
Incumbents Linda Watkins and Anthony Dunfee were re-elected with 453 and 374 votes respectively, while challenger Wanda Johnson won the third spot with 391 votes.
The trailing candidates were Shadrick Paris with 269 votes and McCray Powell with 154.
Watkins has advocated for improving the city’s infrastructure and cleaning up the city. Johnson is another challenger with previous experience on Council, and said she ran this time to give back to the community. Johnson wants improved code enforcement and seeks to aid residents by founding a homeless shelter in or near town.
Dunfee was appointed to an open seat on Council a year ago, and this marks the first time he has been publicly elected. He has advocated for the Nelsonville Police Department to patrol the neighborhoods on foot to improve relationships and communication with local residents. He is also in favor of a stricter housing code.
Cannabis ordinance prevails
Other changes are also headed to Nelsonville: an ordinance depenalizing marijuana within the city passed, 430 votes in favor to 321 against, according the unofficial results. This ordinance is similar to one approved by Athens voters in 2016. It lowers the penalty for misdemeanor marijuana offenses to having fines of $0.
Supporters of the measure have said the idea behind the ordinance is to make marijuana offenses one of the lowest priorities for local law enforcement.