Published November 4, 2008
Dr. William C. Binning, professor emeritus of political science at Youngstown State University and former chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, sees encouraging signs for the Western Reserve Transit Authority and the Youngstown City School District in the absentee ballot results.
Of the 41,225 early votes cast, 24,753 favored the .25 percent countywide sales tax for the WRTA and 14,366 were against.
"It looks good," Binning said from the board of elections offices. "But I think it will tighten because the votes from the outlying areas of the county haven't been counted." The bus system is on life support and could fold if the sales tax fails.
As for the city schools system, which is in state-mandated fiscal emergency, the vote was closer — 7,207 for the 9.5-mill, four-year levy and 5,809 against.
The absentees showed no surprises in contests for various county offices, and even in the hotly contested battle for prosecutor, incumbent Paul Gains had a comfortable lead over his challenger, Marty Yavorcik. Likewise, Probate Judge Mark Belinky was in a very strong position against his challenger, county court Judge Scott Hunter. Common Pleas Judge Maureen Sweeney was easily defeating challenger David Gerchak.
Asked how reflective absentee voting is of the overall vote count, Dr. Binning replied, "In the past the absentee ballots haven't always been a good indicator, but in this case the early voting ballots were one-third of the overall vote and therefore are very indicative."