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TELL CITY - Democrats swept Election Day races in Tell City, claiming the offices of mayor, clerk-treasurer and all five seats on the common council.
In the most-watched race, longtime Clerk-Treasurer Barbara Ewing defeated incumbent Mayor Gayle Strassell, taking just over 60 percent of the vote. Ewing won all eight of the city's voting precincts and received 1,769 votes to Strassell's 1,145.
Jenny Richter defeated Barbara Parker Steen for city clerk-treasurer while Democrats Tony Hollinden and Gary Morton won their respective races for city council. Hollinden defeated incumbent Republican Jim Adams for the at-large seat while Morton defeated Mickey McMahon in the District 4 council position being vacated at year's end by Rick Greulich.
Incumbent Democrat Gerald Yackle won re-election to his District 3 seat, as did John Little in District 4.
Ewing: Ready to Work Hard
Tell City's mayor-elect said she was honored by the support given to her on Election Day and renewed a pledge to give the job her all.
"I am very appreciative of the citizens of Tell City for the support they've given me," she said Wednesday morning. "As I said at the beginning of my campaign, I will work very hard."
Ewing hopes for a smooth transition in the weeks ahead as she prepares to assume the office of mayor. However, city leaders, including Strassell and the current city council, face important issues before New Year's. Those include possible votes on annexing land into the city.
The mood inside Republican headquarters was somber Tuesday night. Strassell, who, like Ewing and other candidates, had spent much of the day at polling places, said she was disappointed by the loss but not in her four years of work as mayor. She accepted the results as the will of voters but stands by her record.
"I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish. We've done more in four years than (the previous administration) did in 12," she said.
Strassell said the city's downtown project, now under way, will benefit the city for years to come, as will new initiatives to improve housing.
Strassell, who defeated four-term Democrat Bill Goffinet in 2003 to become Tell City's first female mayor, said she was disappointed by what she called negative campaigning by Democrats. Confronting advertisements citing a declining cash balance in city accounts, Strassell said she has always acted in a fiscally responsible manner.
In response, Ewing said her campaign focused on issues she believed are important to the city and its residents and never questioned her opponent's integrity or honesty. She said voters have expressed concern over city finances and want funds to be spent carefully.
In the race for the open office of clerk-treasurer, Richter won 64.5 percent of the vote en route to an 1,866-to-1,025-vote win over Steen. "I'm thankful for the support of voters and everyone I had helping me," the Democrat said. She suggested voters valued her experience in public-government finances at the treasurer's office and pledged to serve residents well.
Steen said she had no regrets about her first try at elected office, saying she worked hard, knocking on close to 2,000 doors and learning about the concerns of voters. "I knew it would be tough, but I don't have any regrets," she said.
Elected to new four-year terms on the city council, Little and Yackle said they appreciated the support of voters and pledged to continue listening to residents of their wards.
Little won for the third time, overcoming a challenge by Tim Harding with a final vote tally of 487-334. Republican ads listing his attendance record at meetings may have cost him some votes, Little said, but he added many voters understood the demands of swing-shift workers like himself.
Little's work schedule has caused him to miss several meetings, a fact picked up by Republicans during last month's political forum and in advertising.
Yackle will begin his fifth term on the council in 2008 and said the win "shows that I listen to people."
He received 385 votes to Republican challenger Jeff VanHoosier's 252
Yackle also talked about the work he gave to campaigning. Negativity in city campaigns also bothered him, Yackle said. As in past elections, Yackle carried a buckeye in a pant pocket for luck, something he's done since he first entered politics.
A former city councilman who served four years with Strassell, Harding said he respected the views of voters. However, he acknowledged disappointment at the results.
"It was a real honor for me to run again with Gayle since we were elected together 20 years ago," Harding said. "I wanted to get involved because she was doing such an outstanding job in our community."
VanHoosier said he learned a lot during his try at elected office and said he was disappointed in the number of voters who cast straight-party tickets. According to voting records, 833 people voted straight Democrat tickets with 365 people doing so for Republican candidates.
VanHoosier said he doesn't understand why more voters don't consider the abilities of the person seeking electing office instead of political party.
Morton, who will become District 4 councilman in 2008 after defeating Mickey McMahon, echoed many of the same words, complimenting the help he received from fellow Democrats.
"We worked hard as a team and I'm going to work proudly for the residents of my ward and the entire city," he said.
Morton received 413 votes while Tell City citizens gave McMahon 254 votes.
McMahon said she enjoyed her run for the city council but worries that capable people are being denied public service because of their political party.
"Running for Tell City council was a good experience and I learned a lot and met many new people," she said. "However, I think it's unfortunate many good people cannot serve the community as an elected official simply because of the party they belong to."
She also thanked everyone who supported her campaign and voted for her.
Hollinden, winner of the at-large seat chosen by voters across the city, talked as much about the qualities of his opponent, Jim Adams, as his own strengths.
"I'm replacing a good person so I have to work extra hard," Hollinden said, adding that he is eager to work for the city's betterment. Hollinden received 1,537 votes to Adams' 1,356.
Adams said it's hard for local Republicans to get elected. "When you're the Republican, you're the underdog," he said. "It was nothing personal against me. I'm one of the lucky (Republicans) who get the chance to serve," he said.
Councilwoman Dianne Rudolph was unopposed Tuesday.
The county's election board reported few problems Tuesday. Voting at Tell City Precinct 4 at the Schergens Center was halted for about half an hour after a poll worker mistakenly tabulated votes that had been cast thus far. However, three new machines were brought to the precinct.
No votes were lost, County Clerk Debbie Elder said, and the four people who arrived to vote during the time the polls were closed returned later in the day.