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A night of suspense

A night of suspense
A night of suspense
From left, Barbara Black, Edith Richards, Rilla Gerdon and Sherry Brown look over the results of the hand-counted ballots from the South Franklin precinct. The ballots had to be counted by hand after the voting machine jammed. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

As the nation saw its first black president elected yesterday (Tuesday), Harrison County voters split numerous decisions, with several races too close to call until well into the night.
The closest race was the Harrison County District 2 battle between fellow council members Democrat Carl (Buck) Mathes and Republican Rhonda Rhoads. After the final tally was in, Mathes defeated Rhoads by a razor-thin, 16-vote margin, 8,833 to 8,817.
Rhoads, who narrowly came out on top of a recount in the primary against Kenny Saulman, already indicated last night that she will ask for a recount.
‘I owe it to the people that voted for me,’ she said. ‘I’m very familiar with the recount. I knew it would be a close race. I don’t mind close races.’
Rhoads said she is ‘just waiting to see where she has to sign’ to start the recount process.
She also said she has already contacted the State Board of Accounts, the election board of the Secretary of State and the Attorney General’s office about the legality of a letter sent out Oct. 24 in a Lanesville Community School Corp. newsletter.
In the letter, Donald J. Hussung, president of the Lanesville school board, reminded Franklin Township voters that Rhoads voted against forgiving the loan on their elementary school’s gymnasium, while Mathes had voted for forgiving the loan.
She also said with one machine breaking down in a precinct, and military and possible provisional ballots still up the air, she has no choice but to call for a recount.
‘It’s not over yet,’ said Rhoads.
Mathes said he would call for a recount if he was in Rhoads’ shoes.
‘I’m very surprised how close the race was,’ said Mathes. ‘Rhonda ran a very clean race; we didn’t dig up any dirt on one another.’
Mathes said he appreciates all of the support from the county.
The race included 888 under votes, which are votes not cast for either candidate. The winner of the race will join District 1 Commissioner James Goldman and Commissioner Terry Miller from District 3 on the board.
County Council
With Mathes and Rhoads giving up their seats on the county council to run for commissioner, two newcomers will join the seven-member council. The three at-large positions for Harrison County Council were won by incumbent Democrat Chris Timberlake (9,666 votes), Democrat Richard Gerdon (9,474 votes) and former county commissioner Republican Jim Heitkemper (8,627 votes).
Gerdon, who was successful in his first attempt running for political office, said he was appreciative of all the help he has received.
‘I’m excited and very pleased the people have confidence in me,’ said Gerdon. ‘This is new to me. I’m excited to get started.’
Heitkemper also said he is excited to work with the council members.
‘They’re certainly wonderful people,’ he said.
Heitkemper went on to say that there is a lot at stake in the county.
‘It will take hard work and prayer from a lot of people in Harrison County,’ he said.
Heitkemper served one term as the county’s District 3 commissioner after defeating Terry Miller in the 2002 General Election. Miller regained his seat when he beat Heitkemper in 2006.
Timberlake, also the top vote-getter in the Democrat primary in the spring, will begin his second four-year term on the council.
‘I’m honored by the results, grateful for the support and will try to keep doing the best job I can for Harrison County,’ he said. ‘I’m looking forward to working with Richard and Jim as we move into the new year, and I congratulate (Democrat) Steve (Haggard) and (Republican) Marion (Wallace), who were tireless campaigners throughout this process. They have all been terrific.’
Haggard, a former county councilman and commissioner, collected 8,321 votes, 306 shy of Heitkemper for the third spot, and Wallace, the county’s Veterans Service Officer who was running for public office for the first time, finished with 8,083 votes.
Rounding out the council are Democrats Gordon Pendleton, Leslie Robertson, William T. (Bill) Nichols and Republican Ralph Sherman.
Superior Court Judge
Incumbent Roger D. Davis said he plans to continue to do his best to protect the public and have a fair judicial process for everyone during his next term.
Davis, a Democrat, defeated first-time candidate Republican John T. Evans, 9,290 votes to 8,450.
‘I’m honored to be re-elected, and I’m honored to be the judge for Harrison County,’ Davis said. ‘I want to continue to emphasize rehabilitation for those that are deserving and willing. Most people that go through the criminal court system will get out of prison at some point, and we don’t want them to be a drain on taxpayers once they get out of prison. We want them to contribute positively to society. It saves taxpayers money, and it makes for a safer community.’
County Recorder
Republican Barbara Birkla Best won the seat of Harrison County recorder against opponent Carole Gaither, a Democrat.
Best had 8,788 votes compared to Gaither’s 8,660, leaving Best the winner by a slim 128-vote difference.
‘I’m very satisfied with the support of the community,’ Best said. ‘I kept a positive attitude and people listened to what I had to say.’
Overall, Best said she felt a lot of relief at the race being over, and she looked forward to getting into the office and beginning working for Harrison County.
‘I really appreciate everybody’s support,’ she said, ‘from the bottom of my heart.’
The current officeholder, Democrat Barbara J. Mathes, could not seek re-election due to term limits.
County Circuit Court Clerk
Because of term limits, Barbara Mathes ran for county clerk of the circuit court. She was defeated by the incumbent, Republican Sherry Brown.
Brown said she was told that her opponent had never lost a countywide election. Last night, Brown won by more than 1,800 votes.
‘I love a challenge,’ Brown said. ‘I think it makes you work harder when you have good competition.’
Brown won 30 of 36 precincts en route to her 9,771-7,940 victory.
As clerk, Brown said she was somewhat aware of how her race was going as she heard the results being read off in the Commissioners’ Room at the courthouse.
‘I knew by some of the totals that were coming in that I was ahead, but I know it’s never over until the last vote comes in and is counted,’ she said. ‘I just feel so honored to be re-elected.’
County Coroner
Just like in many other races in Harrison County, the race between county coroner candidates Republican Ray Saylor and Democrat Rusty Sizemore was hard-fought, but Sizemore prevailed, with 376 more votes.
As the final tallies of the evening started to pour in, Sizemore was reluctant to count his chickens before they hatched. He waited for congratulations until results were made official and then, it was a big sigh of relief.
‘It feels good,’ he said. ‘I’m glad it’s over.’
Sizemore, who received 8,915 votes to his opponent’s 8,539 votes, said he is so thankful to the people of Harrison County who have given him their support.
‘I hope I can ‘ I know I can ‘ do the job expected of me,’ he said.
One of the things Sizemore is proudest of is the clean campaign he and Saylor ran throughout the entire election season.
‘It was hard-fought,’ he said, ‘but nothing negative. I thank my opponent for (that).’
Sizemore has already chosen his deputy coroners, Ray and Angela Kling, both of whom have already passed the state coroner’s exam.
‘I just look forward to serving my community,’ Sizemore said.
Commissioner District 1
The county District 1 commissioner race was comfortably won by incumbent James Goldman, the Democrat. He collected 10,137 to Republican Phil Smith’s 7,202.
‘It’s been race I have worked hard at,’ said Goldman. ‘I’ve been up-front about issues including the (new) hospital, animal control and the EMS building. I took a positive stance on issues in the community.’
Goldman has held the commissioner position for the past eight years. Prior to that, he served 12 years on the North Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees.
County Surveyor
The county surveyor was also won by the incumbent, Tom Bube, a Republican.
Bube, who is completing his second term in office, received 9,637 votes. His opponent, Democrat Carl Duley, received 7,722 votes.
‘I’ve been up-front with the people when I’ve talked to them,’ Bube said. ‘I guess they’ve been pleased with what I’ve done.’
Bube also expressed appreciation to his opponent for running a ‘good’ campaign.
‘It says a lot for the community,’ he said.
South Harrison school board
Saying it was ‘pretty nice’ to return to a spot on the South Harrison Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, Ray (Radar) Lillpop defeated incumbent Bill Fleace by 410 votes in the Boone/Taylor Township district seat.
‘I served on that board 23 years ago, and I look forward to serving the people again,’ Lillpop said. ‘I think a lot of people in Harrison Township helped get me voted in. I hope with me getting elected I can shake the board members up a little bit, I think.’
Lillpop said while he’s in office, he’ll continue to seek a change from the ICAN grading system, and he’ll try to be more accessible to parents in his district.
‘There are still a lot of parents who don’t know if their children are passing or what, so we need to just get rid of ICAN. And if people have a problem, I want them to call me so I can look into it. Some people call board members now and they’ll not call the people back, and I don’t think that’s the way a board member should serve.’
Lillpop’s total was 4,014 to Fleace’s 3,604.
In the Harrison Township race, incumbent Larry Hauswald picked up more than 1,000 votes over the runner-up in the race, former school trustee Karen S. Lopp, winning by a comfortable margin, 3,872 to 2,845. The third candidate in the race, first-time candidate James Bell, landed 1,303 votes.
More than 60 percent of Harrison County’s registered voters participated in yesterday’s General Election. Circuit Clerk Sherry Brown said 18,541 ballots were cast, which included nearly 2,900 absentee ballots. A number of people cast straight tickets: 2,862 Republican ones and 2,449 on the Democrat side. Returns were somewhat slow last night, especially when a glitch occurred while processing absentee ballots in one precinct.
Brown said it was a ‘worrisome’ day that required additional ballots to be printed when one precinct nearly ran out of its allotment. She said South Morgan was short of ballots because ones from there had been used in the clerk’s office for absentee voters.
Also, a restraining order was requested to prevent Brown from closing the poll for Northeast Morgan and South Morgan due to concerns some voters might not have realized that they needed to go to Central Barren United Methodist Church instead of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, where those precincts voted in the spring.
However, Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis ruled that all statutes and laws had been followed properly.
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Editor’s note: A special results sheet for Crawford County races is available at various businesses in Crawford County. Also, check for coverage.