When independent candidate Pat McGee found out Tuesday night he had won an at-large seat on Athens City Council, he was playing concertina with his Celtic band at Jackie O’s on Union Street.
McGee, who received 1,518 votes, or 23 percent of the total vote, is the first independent councilman in decades.
“I would almost dance, but I’m too old for that,” he said.
Incumbent Jennifer Cochran and newcomer Peter Kotses, both Democrats, will claim the other two at-large seats, meaning the party will still have a 6-1 majority on council.
Cochran won about 25 percent of the vote and Kotses won 27.
The council race was the only contested race in this year’s elections. Current councilman Steve Patterson, D-At Large, ran unopposed for the position of mayor.
“(Cochran and Kotses) are both fantastic public servants and will represent Athens well,” John Haseley, chair of the Athens County Democratic Party, said.
Haseley said he was sorry the third Democratic candidate, Joan Kraynanski, didn’t get enough votes to win, but he said McGee would also serve the community well.
Republican contender Aaron Dauterman, a senior at Ohio University studying communication studies, received 570 votes, 8.65 percent of the total vote.
“I can say I’m disappointed and sit and get on my soapbox, … but the folks of Athens spoke,” he said.
Dauterman said he still has nearly 2,000 unused campaign stickers, which he said he would probably wear for the novelty.
The last time a Republican served on council was 2003.
“I’m disappointed, but the voters of Athens want groupthink,” Pete Couladis, chair of the Athens County Republican Party, said. “They don’t want people to ask questions, so it’s their loss.”
Ballots began coming in to the Athens County Board of Elections at around 8:30 p.m.
At that time, most of the candidates were scattered throughout a number of Athens bars.
Kraynanski and Dauterman both ended up at the West End Cider House, 234 W. Washington St., and shook hands when Dauterman walked in.
“We were just wishing each other luck,” Dauterman said.
Cochran said she started her night with a small group of her campaign workers at Casa Nueva on West State Street before heading to Pigskin Bar and Grille on Court Street, where most of the other candidates were meeting.
“Going into this election, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Cochran said. “I’m looking forward to working with this new team moving forward.”
Cochran said although her first election was more thrilling, she’s looking forward to heading into her second term.
“I will no longer be the junior council member,” she said. “It will be a nice breath of fresh air to get some new perspectives (on council).”
Cochran said she wants to continue advocating for environmental issues during her second term and supporting the city’s plans for electrical aggregation.
Kraynanski said she doesn’t plan to disappear from public life completely.
“You’ll see me around,” she said. “I’m still in the West Side Neighborhood Association. We’ve got issues to fix.”
She said her loss also opened up more time for her to go vacationing.
Kotses, who garnered the most votes despite his lack of experience in public affairs, commended his political team for its work in getting him elected.
“I think we did a good job of conveying our message about who I am and how I care about the community,” he said.
He said he is excited to “jump in to see how the city operates.”
McGee said he wants to represent the students of Athens during his term, but that he didn’t know exactly what his first act in office would be.
“Well, I’ll probably get sworn in as my first act,” he said. “I’ll probably swear a bit, too. I don’t have a clue yet.”