The Village’s Board of Elections rejected Eva Warren ’19 as a candidate for Gambier Village Council on Sept. 8 due to a clerical error.
Warren decided to run for one of the four open seats on the Village Council this past spring. She said she chose to run for a seat on the Council after concluding that she needed to take a more active role in the community.
“I realized I could moan and groan about a lack of civic engagement and do nothing, or I could put my money where my mouth was and run for office,” Warren said.
To take part in the race, Warren had to collect signatures from 50 registered voters in Gambier per Board of Elections policy. Warren canvassed in Gambier while working during the summer to collect these signatures before turning in her petition to the Village’s Board of Elections. The office told Warren they would contact her if there was a problem with her petition.
Over the summer, the Board of Elections verified the registered voters on Warren’s petition and deemed that she still did not have enough support. But an employee misplaced the petition and certified it, which led Warren to believe that she had been certified as a candidate, according to Warren. With just four candidates running for four open seats on Village Council, Warren, who had not been contacted by the Board, believed she was assured a seat.
However, on Sept. 6, Gambier Mayor Kachen Kimmell sent Warren a text message informing her that there was an error in the paperwork and that she was not on the ballot. Warren and Kimmell learned that Warren had not been informed earlier because of the clerical error. The Board of Elections gave Warren 48 hours to appeal the decision and certify her missing signatures.
The Board of Elections informed Warren that they would have an emergency meeting on Friday, Sept. 8 at noon in order to come to a decision on her appeal. By noon on Thursday, Warren was able to collect affidavits on three of her unverified signatures, bringing her total to 49, but a Board of Elections employee told her to stop collecting signatures because of the meeting the next day. Warren said the employee told her that the decision was out of her hands.
The county prosecutor, who served as counsel for the Board of Elections, determined there was precedence for Warren’s situation, and the Board, according to board member Adam Gilson, decided not to pass her petition because she only had 49 signatures. Kim Horn, the director of the Board of Elections, made it clear that no additional signatures would be accepted after a petition was filed, Horn said.
Warren, disappointed by the end result, regrets some decisions she made during the process. Not wanting to be viewed as just a “token student candidate,” Warren waited until the majority of Kenyon’s student body had left for the summer to begin collecting signatures.
Only 10 of her 49 collected signatures came from students. She said she could have just collected 50 signatures one day in Peirce Dining Hall but did not because she wanted to “do things the right way,” and she would not have those same reservations if she had a second chance.
The door has not closed on Warren’s path to a seat on the Village Council. Because there are only three candidates for four empty seats, Warren could present herself as a candidate to fill the final seat in a council meeting in the winter. However, Warren has not made up her mind on whether she will pursue this option.
Warren is glad that she ran. She feels that there should be student representation on the Village Council because students make up a significant portion of Gambier’s population. Warren has the support of many, including Kimmell.
“I support having a student on the Village Council,” Kimmell said. “I especially support a qualified and prepared candidate. I hope Eva will eventually make it onto the Village Council.”