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 Carthage GOP Ensures One New Council Member

August 29, 2007 - The selections made by Republicans taking part in a recent Carthage town convention have guaranteed there will be at least one new member on the town council come January 1, and maybe two.

Faced with 10 candidates, Carthage Republicans chose three incumbent council members and two newcomers at the August 16 convention to represent their party in this fall's election. Joining Council President Rick Bush, Vice President Wanda Henderson and council member Bill Armstrong on the November 6 ballot will be Carthage Town Marshal Mike Onkst and town resident Doris Wyatt.

The town convention's rules awarded nominations to candidates who got a majority of the votes cast by participating local Republicans. According to John McCane, chairman of the Rush County Republican Party, it took four rounds of voting to slate the party's five town council candidates.

Henderson, Bush and Armstrong were all selected on the first ballot, with Henderson garnering 30 of 45 votes, and Bush and Armstrong taking 28 and 26 votes, respectively. After none of the candidates received a majority of the vote in the second round, Wyatt secured her nomination in round three, taking 26 of 40 votes cast, and Onkst got 20 of 37 votes in the fourth round to take the final spot.

The only challenge the five Republican candidates will face in the fall election will be from incumbent council member Tim Wehr, a Democrat. Even if Wehr is reelected, however, Republicans are still assured that four of their candidates, including at least one of the newcomers, will be elected to what will become a five-member council.

The five candidates Carthage Republicans passed over last week included two incumbents, Rob Cooper and Jane Kirchner. The other three candidates who were not slated were former council member Joe Whitfield, Kathleen Heim and Harry Bostrom.

McCane, who assisted town party leaders with putting on last Thursday's town convention, told The Banner last week that the event, which was held at the Ripley Township Community Center, went well. "Honestly, it was kind of a fun experience," McCane said "It's neat to see people come out and care enough about doing that. I just wish more than 45 would have come out. … Those who did should be congratulated for their service."

Cooper, one of the two incumbents who will not have a chance to be on the fall ballot, told The Banner last week that he had hoped for a different outcome. However, he said he was glad he had the chance to serve town residents the past four years.

"It was a very unique experience to be on the town board," Cooper said. "I was disappointed when I wasn't put back on the ballot, but, at the same time, I was kind of glad I wasn't." He cited what he said were overly long meetings and his own conflicts with Wehr as sources of frustration and things he would not miss once his term is up.

Cooper said some of the highlights of serving on the council included helping lead an effort to get the town a tornado siren and working with his wife, Jennifer, to go after grant money for the McNabb Park. "I enjoyed all that and it was a good experience," he said. "If I had to do it again, I would."


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