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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Tomorrow’s another day’

The polls closed, votes were counted and the Wood County Board of Elections declared students Ashley Harlett, Ward 1 candidate, and Ashley Gilbert, Ward 2 candidate, defeated.

But they didn’t see it that way.

Both Harlett and Gilbert, juniors at the University, said despite the outcome, they considered themselves winners.

“Win or lose, I consider it a victory,” Harlett said, prior to final election results.

Gilbert said all the work she poured into the campaign was worth it.

“I feel like we’ve accomplished something either way,” Gilbert said.

Harlett received just 80 votes, while her opponent, Gordy Heminger, secured the Ward 1 council seat with 354 votes.

John Zanfardino defeated Gilbert for Ward 2 with 459 votes.

After Harlett was told she’d lost, she admitted it was disappointing.

But despite the defeat, Harlett said she didn’t regret any part of the experience.

“I tried my hardest,” she said, adding that now she’s going to focus on her classes.

Harlett said waiting for election results was similar to waiting for a test grade.

“Did I get an A or did I get an F?” Harlett said, fighting back tears. “I may have gotten an F in the race, but I think overall in personality I got an A.”

John Harlett, her father, said his stomach sank when he heard the news.

“I don’t take defeat well,” John Harlett said. “[But] tomorrow’s another day.”

Gilbert, who received results nearly two hours after Harlett, said she wasn’t surprised by the final counts.

At 9:30 p.m., though all five precincts hadn’t reported their results, Gilbert was trailing Zanfardino by 120 votes.

“I kind of expected it when I heard I was down 120 votes,” Gilbert said.

Matt Reger, president of the Bowling Green Republican Club, was impressed by both student’s dedication to their campaigns.

“It wasn’t because [a lack] of hard work,” Reger said, referring to Harlett’s defeat.

Reger also said Gilbert was one of the best Republican candidates to run in a long time.

“Ashley’s poured blood, sweat, tears and family into this,” he said.

Throughout Gilbert’s campaign, she said it was a challenge to be taken seriously by permanent residents.

“The biggest hurdle was if the long term residents took me seriously,” Gilbert said.

But Sue Rayle, a 28-year Bowling Green resident, was rooting for both Harlett and Gilbert.

She said they would be an asset to City Council.

“They have as much right to say how our city is run as any other citizen,” Rayle said. “They are citizens and need to be respected.”

The solution to improve relations between students and community members is to elect students to local government, said Peggy Hancock, also a resident of the city.

“I think the only way to bring the University close with the town’s people is more communication,” Hancock said. “What better way to do it than have students on city council.”

Though election results were disappointing, Reger said both Harlett and Gilbert should be proud of their work.

“We worked hard,” he said. “Today’s done and we’ll look forward to the future.”

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