Marysville City Council race featuring write-in candidate within 15 votes
Incumbent Aaron Carpenter has faced criticism from the community for lack of communication and attending the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot.
A 24-year-old Marysville resident mounted a write-in campaign for Marysville City Council Ward 1 against a sitting city council member and is leading by about a dozen votes following Election Day, but the race is still too close to call.
Just 15 votes separate leading write-in candidate Steven Wolfe, a legislative aide in the Ohio House of Representatives to Republican Tom Young, and incumbent Marysville City Council member Aaron Carpenter. There are still over 50 other write-in ballots to sort through and several provisional and military ballots that still need to be counted.
Wolfe said he ran because many in the Marysville community felt Carpenter and others on city council weren't being responsive to their community. Carpenter was also criticized in the community for attending the Jan. 6 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol and denying the results of the 2020 Presidential Election, with one Change.org petition calling for his removal getting over 2,000 signatures.
"I want to make sure that on there that we realize we're in an elected position and we to not take that for granted and communicate and work with the residents that elected us," Wolfe said.
Carpenter did not respond to a request for comment.
In the last several months Carpenter's social media has also been quiet about his reelection campaign, often posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, about former President Donald Trump's 2024 reelection campaign instead of his own for Marysville City Council this year.
Union County Board of Elections Director Brandon Clay told WOSU that several of the 58 write-in ballots that aren't specifically for Wolfe, there are names like Daffy Duck, Minnie Mouse and Barack Obama. He said provisional ballots could give either candidates more votes and expand or narrow the margin.
Clay said the official canvass and certification of the results of the election will be held on Nov. 20. An automatic recount would be triggered if the votes are within 0.5% of each other, but either candidate can also request a recount anyway.
Any recount would take place Nov. 30.
Wolfe said he started his campaign too late to qualify for the ballot so he instead decided to mount a write-in campaign. He said he wasn't surprised at his campaign's success.
"I'm not necessarily extremely surprised because I could feel kind of the hunger for change. But obviously, you know, running as a write in campaign, I think I'm very happy and I can't really express in words the gratitude I have," he said.
Wolfe was born and raised in Marysville and attended Davidson College where he played football. In addition to working for state Rep. Young, he's interned with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan and worked as a DoorDash driver.
Wolfe said if he does make it on Marysville City Council he wants to help the city manage growth and development responsibly, improve infrastructure and increase government transparency.
Like other counties in Central Ohio, Union County and the city of Marysville are gaining in population rapidly. Wolfe said he isn't anti-development but he would like to see it slowed down so the town doesn't change too fast.
"Growth. It's a good thing for our town. I don't want us to, you know, stop growing and kind of fall back and lose people and not become as desirable. But it's making sure that we grow in a way that benefits both the city and the residents," Wolfe said.
Wolfe said he has ideas for how to improve transparency and wants to lead by example for the rest of the city council.
"I want to continue to work on (communication) and I want people to continue to hold me accountable to and make sure that we're having monthly town halls... and I'm proposing having phone call hours throughout the week for someone to give me a call and to talk," he said.
Wolfe said he disagreed with his opponent's views on the 2020 election.
"Joe Biden is our president and we're moving forward into 2024. (City Council) is not the correct place to use the council platform to kind of put your own personal views out there about specific stuff like that," Wolfe said.
Wolfe said if the uncounted ballots end up being close he would support a recount whether he is in the lead or not.