Mount Vernon City Hall

MOUNT VERNON -- The three Republican candidates running for Mount Vernon City Council's at-large seats all won in Tuesday's general election, setting up an all-Republican Council beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

Amber Keener (R), Janis Seavolt (R) and Mel Severns (R) claimed the three at-large seats, outperforming Democrat Julia Warga. Seavolt collected 1,320 votes, followed by Severns with 1,310, Keener with 1,237 and Warga with 968, according to unofficial vote totals from the Knox County Board of Elections.

Seavolt, Keener and Warga were incumbents, while Severns ran as a challenger.

Keener, who was appointed to Council in June following the resignation of Tanner Salyers (who stepped down to become the Knox County Recorder), won her first election Tuesday. She thanked her family, friends and coworkers for their support during her first campaign for public office.

"While I had a concession speech already written I didn’t give much thought to a victory speech in part because I believe God uses what we consider setbacks and failures rather as a means to bring us to things much greater than our original goal," Keener, 36, told Knox Pages late Tuesday.

"I want to thank my friends specifically those who told me to keep taking chances, my family specifically Cate for constantly feeding us, my mentors specifically the woman who continues to speak scripture into my daily life and pray over me. Thank you to my co-workers, specifically those who continue to provide guidance and inspiration.

"And thank you to my best friend and husband Steve. Without him I am nothing. I look forward to continuing to work diligently for our community and I thank them for putting their trust in me for City Council."

Severns, who has served as Mount Vernon Nazarene University's registrar since 1998, also ran for public office for the first time this fall. He expressed gratitude following his victory Tuesday and excitement for the challenges ahead.

"I am very thankful for all the support from the voters, from the Knox County Republicans, and my friends and family. A lot of good people are in my corner," Severns, 58, told Knox Pages late Tuesday.

"As a councilman representing the city residents of Mount Vernon, I will do my best to keep us safe, to improve our infrastructure, to increase housing options, and to bring more jobs to our city. These are the basic goals for our city. I will work with the other Council members and city officials to prepare Mount Vernon for a bright future.

"Thanks again for the voter support. We live in a great city that will become even better."

Seavolt, 74, was unavailable for comment late Tuesday. She won her sixth consecutive term in-office, having served on City Council since 2011. Warga, 47, first won election in 2019, having run alongside Seavolt and Salyers for Council's three at-large seats.

Hillier defeats Miller in Fourth Ward race

Incumbent Mike Hillier (R) defeated write-in challenger Mike Miller (R) Tuesday in the race for City Council's Fourth Ward seat.

Hillier collected 280 votes, while Miller garnered 186.

Hillier, 62, will enter his seventh term on Mount Vernon City Council in 2022. He has served on Council 14 out of the last 15 years, having first served from 2006-2016 and then from 2018-present (he was appointed by the Knox County Republican Central Committee in 2018 to fill the vacant Fourth Ward seat left by Jeff Gottke).

Miller, 55, ran for public office for the first time this fall. He retired from a 30-year career with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources last July.

Hillier was quick and to-the-point with his remarks following Tuesday's victory.

"I want to thank all of my supporters who helped me win this election," he said. "I would like to thank the voters. I will continue to speak for our neighborhoods first on City Council."

Bruce Hawkins (R) ran unopposed for the position of City Council president this fall and collected 1,669 votes. David Stuller (R) ran unopposed for city treasurer and garnered 1,601 votes.

Josh Kirby (R) ran unopposed for Council's First Ward seat, collecting 359 votes, and John Francis (R) ran unopposed for Council's Second Ward seat, collecting 234 votes. Tammy Woods (R) garnered 578 votes, running unopposed for Council's Third Ward seat.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, Mount Vernon City Council will be comprised solely of Republicans. There will be two newcomers (Kirby and Severns) working alongside five incumbents.

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.