GATES MILLS — Voters in Gates Mills elected three new council members on Tuesday and voted to retain one councilman, according to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. Six candidates, including three incumbents, were running for four seats on council. Newcomers David Atton, Laurie Deacon and Michael Press earned a council seat in addition to incumbent Craig Steinbrink, who was appointed earlier this year. Councilman Larry Frankel and Councilwoman Nancy Sogg were not re-elected.
“I’m delighted to have been elected on to the council of the village. The voters clearly were in support of major changes,” Mr. Atton, 77, said on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to working with the new council to take on the challenges the village faces.”
Mr. Atton tallied 442 votes, Ms. Deacon totaled 438 votes, Mr. Steinbrink earned 415 votes and Mr. Press received 362 votes, according to unofficial results from the board of elections. Steve Siemborski, the current village treasurer, ran uncontested to retain his seat. He tallied 535 votes.
In a letter to residents, Mayor Karen Schneider said she would vote for Ms. Deacon, Mr. Steinbrink, Mr. Frankel and Ms. Sogg. Ms. Sogg and Mr. Frankel lost their seats. They earned 316 votes and 345 votes, respectively, according to preliminary results. Councilwoman Ann Whitney’s seat was up for grabs because she did not seek another term.
“I’m looking forward to serving the people of Gates Mills and keeping communications and rhetoric positive,” Ms. Deacon, 64, said following the election. “We will be moving Gates Mills forward but preserving our natural beauty, our historic legacy and keeping our safety services top notch.”
“I got a chance to spend a lot of time talking to villagers and hearing their thoughts and input,” Mr. Steinbrink, 43, said on Wednesday. “I’m happy that I was able to retain my seat and the voters have confidence in me to help manage the affairs of the village.”
All six candidates spoke at a town hall meeting in September hosted by the Gates Mills Improvement Society at the Community House on Chagrin River Road. They touched on a variety of topics, including development, green space preservation, transparency, a potential budget deficit and their relationship with the Mayfield City School District.
“I’m happy to do it,” Mr. Press, 74, said on Wednesday. “The voters apparently wanted change.” Two of the three incumbents were not re-elected.
Each of the winners will have a four-year term that begins on Jan. 1, 2022. Each position is nonpartisan.
Voters also renewed the conservation levy in Tuesday’s election. The five-year, 1-mill levy has been in place since 1991 and it has now been renewed six times.
The unofficial vote count was 553-199, according to the board of elections. The conservation levy is authorized through an amendment to the village charter. The conservation levy brought heated debate between the residents, elected officials and the Gates Mills Land Conservancy since May due to the new revenue sharing agreement.
For the past 30 years, the conservancy received 95 percent of the levy revenue and the village received 5 percent. In the new agreement, each entity receives 50 percent. The levy generates about $1 million over five years and payment is first due in 2022. Conservancy leaders admitted that they were hoping for a bigger share and residents questioned why the village wanted more funds.
“I think it’s great,” Mayor Schneider said of the levy’s renewal. “Our land conservancy will continue on with all their good work for all our residents.”
The ballot language stated how the levy funds may be spent, which includes conserving, retaining, protecting and preserving land, water, forest, open, natural or wetland areas. The land is to be maintained in its natural, scenic, open or wooded condition or as suitable habitat for fish, plants or wildlife, according to the ballot language. Levy funds can also be used for acquisition of property.
In Mayor Schneider’s October letter to residents, she wrote that she planned to vote in favor of the conservation levy renewal.