8 State and Local Election Results Worth Noting

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From the Kentucky gubernatorial election to ballot measures on affordable housing in San Francisco, here are some of the races and initiatives we were tracking.

Ohio’s Dueling Marijuana Measures: Buckeye State residents on Tuesday soundly rejected a ballot measure critics said would lay the foundation for a marijuana grower monopoly in the state.

Ohio’s ballot featured competing constitutional amendments: Issue 3, granting 10 licenses to investor groups for growing legal medical and recreational marijuana, and Issue 2, prohibiting the state constitution from creating a monopoly, oligopoly or cartel.

While seemingly unrelated, it’s important to note those growing licenses would’ve gone to the same investors projected to have spent about $25 million peddling the legalization measure, under the scheme pitched by ResponsibleOhio.

State lawmakers passed Issue 2 as a countermeasure, and while in the end it wasn’t necessary, it passed. The ResponsibleOhio initiative lost with only 36 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial final vote totals from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

“At a time when too many families are being torn apart by drug abuse, Ohioans said no to easy access to drugs and instead chose a path that helps strengthen our families and communities,” said Gov. John Kasich, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

HERO in Houston: As one of the country’s first openly gay mayors of a large U.S. city, Annise Parker, terms out of her seat of six years, Houston voters turned out en masse to reject a proposed equal rights ordinance on the ballot.

The measure failed 61 percent to 39 percent, according to unofficial final vote totals from the Harris County Clerk’s Office.

In July, the Texas Supreme Court ordered the non-discrimination ordinance repealed unless it was approved via referendum, and Proposition 1 was born:

"Are you in favor of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Ord. No. 2014-530, which prohibits discrimination in city employment and city services, city contracts, public accommodations, private employment, and housing based on an individual's sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy?"

The protections for LGBT residents are what really had opponents in a tizzy, prompting claims men and sexual predators would soon be allowed in women’s restrooms if approved.

Major advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Human Rights Campaign spent more than $2.4 million promoting HERO, the Houston Chronicle reported, while big-time donors more than $500,000 opposing the ordinance.

About 130,000 people voted early this election, more than doubling the turnout the last time there was an open mayor seat, and conservative and black neighborhoods led the charge— bad news for HERO.

A New Mayor at Philly City Hall: Former Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney was favored to succeed termed out Mayor Michael Nutter, and he didn’t disappoint—winning handily on Election Day with 85 percent of the vote, according to unofficial final vote totals.

Nutter enjoyed a national profile as mayor for both raising the minimum wage for city contract workers to $12 in January 2014 and being quick to embrace innovation in Philly government.

With some in the city clamoring for yet another minimum wage hike, it will be interesting to see if Kenney follows in Nutter’s footsteps.

He took to Twitter shortly after the race was called to thank supporters, including feminists, immigrants and the LGBT community:

A New Governor in Kentucky: Millionaire Republican investor Matt Bevin beat veteran Democratic politician and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway by a sizeable margin to replace the state’s term-limited Democratic governor, Steve Beshear.

According to The Courier Journal:

[W]hile Bevin originally ran largely on economic issues, his campaign pivoted toward social issues as the gay marriage issue blew up in Kentucky with a federal judge sending Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to jail because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses. Bevin called for Gov. Steve Beshear to issue an executive order freeing Davis of the responsibility of issuing the licenses and even had his photo taken with Davis.

Conway obeyed a federal judge’s order to accept same-sex marriage, a year before SCOTUS weighed in, and supports Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Of the two governor’s races this election cycle—the other in Mississippi, where Gov. Phil Bryant’s re-election was all but guaranteed—this was the one worth watching, though not nearly as close as expected. The unofficial final State Board of Elections results had Bevin with 53 percent of the vote and Conway with 44 percent of the vote.

An Affordable San Francisco: Voters in California’s fourth-largest city were met with a smorgasbord of ballot measures spawned from the shortage of affordable housing in the city, the most prominent being losing Proposition F, the so-called “The Airbnb Initiative.”

Tenants-rights advocates argue short-term rental sites like Airbnb are taking up to 12,000 already scarce housing units off the market and aimed to cap individuals' rentals at 75 per year. But users say the move would have limited their income to the point where they’d have had to leave town.

A little more than 55 percent of voters were against the measure, according to unofficial final results from the consolidated city-county Department of Elections.

The vote was a critical test for Airbnb, which spent $8 million to quash the measure, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Meanwhile, Prop I, which would have halted market-rate housing—and, thus, gentrification—in San Francisco’s Mission District for 18 months also failed with 57 percent of voters against. Though Prop J, creating the Legacy Business Historic Preservation Fund to help prevent some stores and restaurants from being priced out of the city, passed with 57 percent of voters in favor.

Mayor Ed Lee, who was expected to retain his seat handily, did with 57 percent of the vote. His next-closest opponent, Francisco Herrera, the sole Latino candidate, only received 15 percent of the vote.

Change in Salt Lake City? A Democratic former state legislator, Jackie Biskupski, appears to have become Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor. She only had to go through two-term Democratic incumbent Ralph Becker in a tight race, which is probably why he has yet to concede as of 10:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

Biskupski has 52.2 percent to Becker’s 47.8 percent of the vote, according to unofficial final results from the Salt Lake County Clerk.

Efficient or Effective Education?: When it comes to education in Mississippi, courts won't be calling the shots.

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program, circa 1997, defines how much the state spends per child on public education, but the number has only been met twice and wealth disparities abound.

Initiative 42 might have changed all that, amending the state constitution that calls for free public education to mandate an “adequate and efficient system” that judges enforced, but the measure failed with only 48 percent approval, according to unofficial final results from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

Republican lawmakers pitched Alternative 42, a rival education measure, which would have left it to the legislature to provide an “effective” school system. That constitutional change also failed with only 41 percent of the vote.

GOP Holds Virginia Senate: Republicans maintained control of Virginia’s Senate on Tuesday, previously holding a 21-19 majority they were hoping to expand.

Stealing the 29th District seat in Northern Virginia was critical to the GOP’s gameplan, but Democrat Jeremy McPike is the winner, according to unofficial final results from the state Department of Elections.

The GOP's loss of a single seat would have left Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam the tiebreaker in the event of future gridlock.

Virginia’s House will remain under Republican control.

Dave Nyczepir is News Editor for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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