Leslie Ward speaks at Richland Source's Candidate Conversations event.

MANSFIELD ā€” Leslie Ward tried her best not to the think about the election results since Tuesday night.

ā€œIā€™m trying to keep myself occupied so that I’m not stressing and panicking,” said Ward, an account manager at insurance firm Roby Foster Miller Earick.

Ward was one of two write-in school board candidates in Tuesday’s election. Due to the high volume of write-in votes, elections workers had to stop counting Tuesday night in order to get out the rest of the results.

The Richland County Board of Elections released an updated version of the final, unofficial totals Thursday afternoon, after all the write-ins had been counted.

Ward received 306 votes while Jason Lawrence received 203, according to those totals.

The 1998 Mansfield Senior High grad said she was nervous but excited about joining the board and hopes to offer a fresh perspective.

“I think that a lot of folks are ready for some fresh faces, maybe some new ways of thinking to help the schools and help the kiddos,” Ward said. “I’m honored that my community believes in me enough.

“Once a Tyger, always a Tyger.”

She stated her goals are to recruit and retain quality educators and continuing to build on the district’s successes, including its Ohio grade card scores.

Ward will join the board alongside a second newcomer, Downtown Mansfield Inc. CEO Jennifer Kime.

The two women will replace Sheryl Weber and current board president Renda Cline, who both chose not to run for re-election.

Ward said she’s looking forward to working with Kime and the rest of the school board.

“I feel like we have a lot of the same values,” Ward said of Kime. “I’m excited to put our heads together and see what we can come up with.”

What does the process of counting write-ins look like?

The school board vote wasn’t the only issue on the ballot with write-in options.

Matt Finfgeld, director of the board of elections, said this year’s ballot had more write-in submissions that any he’s seen in the last two-and-a-half years.

“Each ballot had to be manually inspected, and a bipartisan team had to verify that the name written was a certified write-in candidate,” Finfgeld said.

“With the large number of ballots cast that had write-ins on them, it took over six hours to complete.”

Having a bipartisan team ensures fairness, since there is a slight margin for error accepted for write-in votes.

“If you leave a letter out or something like that, it’ll still count,” Finfgeld said during the first of two Candidates Conversations nights held last month at IdeaWorks.

“My bipartisan board will look at each one of those write ins and if they can tell the intent of the voter, it’ll count.”

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Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2019. I focus on education, housing and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. Got a tip? Email me at katie@richlandsource.com.