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Fri, Sep 19, 2014 02:06 AM
Issue of September 17, 2014
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Harrison County Council candidate Sam Day, left, Commissioner Kenneth Saulman, Councilman Gordon Pendleton and Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye mingle near an entrance of the Government Center in Corydon last night while awaiting primary election results. Photo by Alan Stewart

Turnout low with few contested races


May 07, 2014 | 09:59 AM

It didn't take long after the polls closed yesterday (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. before those at the Harrison County Government Center knew who the candidates would be in the Nov. 4 General Election.

The last precinct — Blue River No. 1 — arrived at 7:30, just 90 minutes after the polls closed. A few minutes later, the final tallies were scrolling across the screens in three different rooms at the Center: one each for the Democrats and Republicans and another for the media.

Even then, there wasn't much hoopla in an election that had very few contested races.

In a close local race, political newcomer Republican Sam Day ousted five-term District 4 Councilman Ralph Sherman, 453 to 414.

"It was a good race," Sherman said before congratulating Day on the victory.

Day said he knew it would be close.

"He's a good man, good family ... just good people," Day said.

Day said looking forward, if he makes it through the General Election, he'd like to help spur economic development in the county as well as keep the county financially sound for the next 30, 40 to 50 years. (No Democrat candidate signed up to run for the District 4 seat, but one could be added this summer.)

Sherman said there wasn't anything he knew of that would have turned voters away from him.

Another political newbie, Kyle S. Nix, earned the Democrat nod in a big way, defeating Glenn V. Arms and Rodney D. Elliott in council District 1. Nix collected 543 votes to Elliott's 130 and Arms' 44. Nix moves on to face Republican incumbent Phil Smith, who received 484 votes in an uncontested race.

"I'm very grateful for the support in this primary election," Nix said. "I'm excited to get to talk to more people and get closer to an opportunity to serve our community as we approach fall."

The other two council races featured uncontested candidates in each party. District 2 will feature Republican incumbent Gary Davis, who received 552 votes, against Democrat Donald J. (Donnie) Hussung, who received 542 votes; and District 3 will pit incumbent Democrat Gordon Pendleton, 403 votes, against Republican Holli Baker Castetter, 404 votes.

It will be a rematch from four years ago in the District 3 Commissioner race this November as incumbent Republican Jim Klinstiver topped Mark Stewart, 1,337 to 1,209, and Democrat and former Commissioner Terry L. Miller had little problem defeating Roger D. Wooten Sr., 1,859 to 449.

"Terry was born and raised just across the fence from our property," Klinstiver said. "I've known him all of my life. He was a good boy, and he is a good man. We just differ on politics."

In 2010, Klinstiver outpaced Miller by 468 votes.

Miller, who said he's ready for the rematch, is no stranger to comebacks, having defeated Jim Heitkemper in 2006 after losing to him in 2002.

"I've been there before, I've got a good reputation and that's what I'm going to be running on," Miller said.

Klinstiver said the competition with Stewart, who threw his hat in the political ring for the first time, was a good thing.

"We all benefit from it, the winner and the loser," he said of the close race. "The more issues you survive, the tougher you get."

Miller said Wooten ran a good, clean campaign and they've talked with each other and they have mutual respect.

District 3 is the only one of three commissioner seats up for grabs this year.

Two poll workers said turnout was low in the precincts where they were assigned for the day. They added that they saw people pulling a ballot different from past elections just so they could vote for a particular candidate.

Of the local races, only nine were contested, and five of those involved township trustee positions or their advisory boards.

The most talked about of those township races was the Spencer Township trustee one that had four Democrat candidates seeking their party's nomination to square off against Republican Bruce Hawkins in the fall. Long-time Trustee Donald Satterfield, a Democrat, did not seek re-election.

Aaron Scott came out on top with 142 votes. Next was Kyle Byrne with 99 votes, followed by Susie Flock Weigle with 42 votes and Curtis Brown with 13.

Scott said he went to nearly every household in the township and apologized to those voters in the township whom he missed. His strategy will be the same in the fall, he said.

Another long-time township trustee, Joseph E. Martin, handily defeated his opponent, Jeremy Zabel, 212 to 54, to be on the November ballot as the Democrat candidate for Jackson Township.

The Franklin Township Advisory Board will have at least one new face come January, as Harold Scott garnered the lowest number of votes in the four-way race among the Democrats.

The top three vote-getters were incumbent Dale (Chip) White (305 votes), political newcomer David Brengman (279 votes) and incumbent Charles D. (Charlie) Sell (244 votes). They will join the lone Republican candidate William A. Rowett, who garnered 297 votes. The top three vote-getters in the fall will serve a four-year term on the advisory board.

Six men were seeking the Democrat nomination to move on in the Morgan Township Advisory Board race. The finishing order was: incumbent Kenneth Jacobi, 148 votes; Michael Book, 146 votes; Donnie Baylor, 113 votes; Adam Uhl, 72 votes; Danny Schroeder, 66 votes; and Michael Farris, 51 votes. Jacobi, Book and Baylor will be joined in the fall by Republicans Charlie Crawford, who received 157 votes, incumbent Brian Tincher (123 votes) and Jack Froning (113 votes). (Incumbent Gary Vaught did not seek re-election.)

Voters in Jackson Township on the Democrat side also selected advisory board candidates. The top three were Robert H. Morris (182 votes), incumbent Frederick (Fred) L. Naegele (175 votes) and Jeanne Schilmiller Schroeder (164 votes). The fourth candidate, incumbent Michael P. Schroeder, received 130 votes. There were no Republican candidates.

And voters in Franklin Township had a referendum on the ballot.

To the surprise of several Lanesvillians who were at the Government Center, the vote on the referendum for the Lanesville Community School Corp. was much closer than anticipated.

Though all four precincts were in favor of the measure, the 419-367 "yes" vote showed that many in the community were less than enthusiastic about the school tax levy of up to, but not exceeding, 17 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The closest margin for the vote was in the North Franklin precinct, 63-62, followed by Central Franklin (94-91) and West Franklin (114-104). The most lopsided of the four precincts was South Franklin, where 148 people voted in favor of the referendum and 110 voted against it.

Lanesville's superintendent and junior-senior high school principal, Steve Morris, said last month that he had been available to answer questions from the public about the vote, but there had not been much response from the public.

With the passing of the referendum, the tax rate will be imposed for the next seven calendar years.

In district races, incumbent U.S. Rep. Todd Young easily locked down the Republican bid and earned the chance to battle for a third term in Congress.

In Harrison County, Young landed 2,155 votes — more than 80 percent — to easily defeat Kathy Lowe Heil of Elizabeth and Mark Jones of Indianapolis.

District-wide, as of press-time and with nine of 13 counties reporting, Young had 16,571 votes, followed by Heil (2,273) and Jones (1,412).

Young's challenger on the Democratic ticket is expected to be Bill Bailey of Seymour, who appeared to earn the nod in a four-horse race.

Bailey's 7,044 votes overall in the district topped James R. McClure Jr. (3,412) of Clarksville, J.S. Miller (2,390) of Nashville and Corydon's William Joseph (Billy) Thomas (2,081).

In Harrison County, Bailey landed 729 votes, followed by Thomas (529), McClure (388) and Miller (372).

Though H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis dominated opponent Erin Houchin (1,934 to 802) in his home county of Harrison in the race for the State Sen. District 47 Republican bid, Houchin got the nod over Whitis. Only one county in the district had not reported totals at the time this story was sent to press. District-wide, Houchin led Whitis 5,384 to 4,046.

While the exact breakdown was unavailable last night, there were approximately 2,812 Republican ballots cast yesterday and 2,462 Democrat ballots. Also, there was a total 681 absentee ballots cast.

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