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Akers concedes to Allen in Hillsboro City Council race

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As early election results came in Nov. 4, it soon became clear that the race for a four-year term on the Hillsboro City Council in Ward 2 was not going to be a tight one.

With council president Aron Carleson unable to run for another term due to term limits, Monte Akers, a business consultant and a member of the Hillsboro School Board, and Kyle Allen, a member of the city’s budget committee and director of field operations for Working America, an advocacy organization that works for “good jobs and a just economy,” stepped up to run.

With Allen’s margin substantial and holding steady as more ballots were counted, Akers conceded the race late last week.

“It appears that more ballots have been counted and Hillsboro citizen’s voices are being heard,” Akers said Thursday morning. “Mr. Allen has won the race. I am extremely humbled by the support I received from the Hillsboro community. I don’t plan on going away, and will continue to work with city government to do the best for Hillsboro citizens.”

The city council race was marred by a serious ballot mix-up. Allen and Akers were the only candidates for the position and should have been the only names listed, but a third name — Brenda McCoy — also appeared. McCoy had been an early candidate, but officially withdrew from the contest in late August, well before the deadline and with ample time before the Washington County Elections Division’s ballots went to the printer. The errant ballots forced the county to print and mail approximately 45,000 supplemental ballots for voters in the city of Hillsboro. The reprinted ballots listed only the correct two candidates — Akers and Allen, but the new ballots did not reach voters until about two weeks after the original ballots went out.

The extra ballots created confusion, appeared to reduce voter turnout in the council race, and took longer than usual for elections officials to count.

Even though the mistake did not impact his contest, Steve Callaway — the Ward 3 city council candidate who ran unopposed for a new four-year term — said he was disappointed with the ballot snafu.

“I don’t want anybody to feel disenfranchised,” Callaway said. “I’m really disappointed at the mistake. It seems completely preventable. Everybody should have the utmost confidence the vote they cast is meaningful and counted. To have multiple ballots coming and going is confusing, and some people were not able to get the supplemental ballot in time.”

Despite conceding to Allen, Akers said he was disappointed to see that substantial amounts of cash went to Allen’s campaign for the city council seat.

“I am troubled by the fact that Mr. Allen spent $11,000 on this race — the majority financed by labor unions and Tom Hughes of Metro,” Akers explained. “I am fearful of the anticipated payback of these special interests. I am troubled by the message this sends to average citizens without the financial backing of Mr. Allen, and their hope of getting involved in city government, as we saw with Brenda McCoy.”

McCoy was the council candidate who withdrew from the race. At the time she left the race, McCoy’s formal withdrawal form mentioned “insufficient fundraising” as one reason for not continuing with her campaign.

In the wake of his victory, Allen said he was eager to join the council.

“I’m excited to get started in January,” Allen said.

With the election victory behind him, Allen planned to focus on a key campaign promise: to get sidewalks in front of a local elementary school.

“My number one priority is to make sure we build sidewalks in front of Brookwood Elementary School along Cedar Street,” Allen said.

Callaway said he was sorry to lose the services of Aron Carleson, who was term-limited, but added that he believes Allen will be a strong addition to the council.

“Aron will be missed as much as she has been appreciated,” Callaway said. “But I’ll be pleased to welcome and work with Kyle. Kyle brings an important perspective, as a father with young kids.”

Callaway also encouraged citizens to continue to speak out and bring their ideas to the city council meetings.

“Even though the election is over, their voices should continue to be heard,” Callaway said. “Not just at the ballot box, but also by coming to meetings and with written communications as well. There are important decisions to be made in the next few years.”