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September 21, 2023

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Council to add 1 new member, 2 incumbents re-elected

Of the three city council seats that were contested this election, only one newcomer will join the council come January.

Republican Theresa Charters Gavarone was elected as the fourth ward council member with 54 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Democrat Rob Piasecki (45.96 percent).

Republican Bob McOmber and Democrat Sandy Rowland both maintained their At-Large council seats. With all 19 precincts reporting, McOmber had 31.43 percent of the vote and Rowland had 30.91 percent.

Including McOmber and Rowland, four candidates ran for two open At-large seats. The top two candidates took the seats regardless of party.

The two open seats were challenged by Republican Sandy Milligan (26.69 percent) and Green Party candidate Joe DeMare (10.97 percent).

At-Large council members, who are city-wide representatives, serve four-year terms. Ward council members represent one of four wards in Bowling Green, with each member serving two-year terms.

Rowland said she looks forward to continue working with McOmber.

“I work well with him and I’ll continue to work well with him,” Rowland said. “It’s good to have a bipartisan relationship.”

McOmber was the only Republican on a council of seven before the election of Gavarone. Gavarone, a retired attorney, is a downtown business owner.

“I’ve got a lot invested in Bowling Green,” Gavarone said. “I really am committed to the Bowling Green community and its future.”

Both Piasecki and Rowland were originally appointed to their respective council seats.

Piasecki replaced Republican Greg Robinette in July, who was called to active duty. Rowland replaced Democrat Joel Kuhlman in February 2012, who became county commissioner.

McOmber is the longest-serving council member, having already served two four-year terms as an At-Large member. He said his experience balances the “relatively inexperienced council.”

“We’re kind of top-heavy on fresh faces already,” McOmber said.

All the candidates said they spent the past months knocking on thousands of doors and interacting with voters.

Milligan’s goal was to add a business voice to the council, something she said she will continue to do even though she was not elected.

“It’s tough to unseat incumbents,” Milligan said. “I still believe I have a voice that can be very useful for city council.”

Even though Piasecki only served for six months, he said he enjoyed the opportunity to interact with his community in a new way.

“It allows me to serve the city in more of an effective way,” Piasecki said. “It’s nice to be able to listen to people’s concerns and do something with that.”

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