ELYRIA – Lorain County Community College’s levy narrowly passed Tuesday, although the 72-vote margin of victory falls within the range of an automatic recount.
According to unofficial election returns from the county Board of Elections, 28,497 votes, or 50.1 percent, were cast in favor of the levy, while 28,425 votes, or 49.9 percent, went against the measure.
Those figures don’t include 599 provisional ballots that won’t be counted until the election is certified on Nov. 26 or absentee ballots that have been mailed but have not yet arrived, elections board Director Paul Adams said.
“It doesn’t get any closer than this,” Tracy Green, the college’s vice president for strategic and institutional development, said as the final results were coming in.
College President Roy Church said he’s never seen a levy for the college pass with such a narrow margin or an election with such a low turnout, which he believes was a factor in the tight vote.
Adams said countywide voter turnout 28.7 percent.
The 1.5-mill renewal levy with a 0.6-mill increase will raise $12 million per year, money that will go toward expanding faculty, technology and programming in the college’s University Partnership. If it stands, the levy will be in place for 10 years.
“We’re hopeful,” Church said.
But even if the provisional and outstanding absentee ballots end up changing the results, Church said the levy won’t drop off the books immediately and the college could try again next year to convince voters to pass it.
He said the levy effort was about more than passing a levy. It also gave the college a chance to explain to the community what it does, Church said.
Citizens for LCCC, the campaign committee backing the levy, had spent considerably on passing the measure. According to pre-election campaign finance reports, the committee had spent $545,380 through mid-October and had another $193,118 left in its campaign coffers to finish out the election season.
Church also told a crowd gathered at the Spitzer Conference Center on LCCC’s campus Tuesday night that there had been tremendous campus and community involvement in the campaign.
For instance, he said the Student Senate helped organize bus trips to the elections board’s offices so students could cast their votes. He said about 150 students took advantage of the offer.
But as the results came in throughout the night and the margins tightened, Church warned the crowd that it would be a close race.
“This is clearly a nail biter,” he said at one point.
It still could be.