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 Landslide Local Election Results Surprise Winners

November 14, 2007 - Despite the landslide results of last week's election, the three independent Knightstown Town Council candidates who ousted the Republican incumbents had expected closer races.

"I thought the election would be closer than it was," said Terry Guerin, who took 70.6 percent of the vote to best incumbent Council President David Glenn for the Ward 4 council seat. "But, on the other hand, after seeing what was happening in Indianapolis, you could see that there was a lot of voter dissatisfaction, not just in Knightstown, but across the state."

Independents Clyde South and Bob Weber also expressed surprise at their respective margins of victory. At 309, South had the highest number of votes among town council candidates, which gave him 79.4 percent in his Ward 1 race against incumbent Council Vice President Nate Hamilton.

"I was surprised at the margin of victory," South said. "I never suspected it would be what it was. … I was surprised to get nearly 80 percent of the vote."

Webber, who ran for the Ward 3 seat held by incumbent Cort Swincher, also faced a challenge from a Libertarian, Bryan Miller. However, despite having three candidates in the race, Weber still managed to collect 66.1 percent of the votes cast for that seat.

"I figured it would be closer," Weber said. "I figured we'd win, but not by that margin."

All three of the newly elected council members, whose four year terms in office begin January 1, said they thought their decisive victories showed voters want change.

"I think that's the indication, that they're ready for a different approach to going about taking care of the town's business," South said. "They're anticipating, maybe, something being done differently. I don't how to articulate that a whole lot better other than I just think they're expecting things to go different from what they have been. I don't think that's any defamation on the previous council. I really don't think it is. I think it's just people we're saying, 'Let's try something different.'"

"I kind of felt it was a mandate," Weber said. "And not just here in Knightstown, but throughout the whole state."

"Citizens let politicians know that business as usual was no longer acceptable," Guerin said.

According to county election officials, there were approximately 1,240 registered voters eligible to take part in Knightstown's election. With 401 ballots cast, Knightstown's voter turnout was a little more than 32 percent.

"Generally, I was impressed with the community's involvement," South said. "When there's no other election going on, you've got a third of the people showing up to vote - that's pretty impressive that the community was still that active. They're not going to sleep."

"I am grateful for the confidence the voters gave the independent candidates," Guerin said. "Now, it is our responsibility to produce."

"I think the first thing we ought to do is thank the voters for electing us," said Weber. "I think another major thing we need to do is work together with the two remaining council members (Steve Nelson and Valerie Trump). … To make things work, the five of us have got to work together."

Guerin said he was pleased that the Knightstown election - believed to be the town's first in at least 20 years - had not been beset by negative campaigning. "I'm very pleased that all of the candidates involved in this election were congenial," he said. "There was a good rapport among all of us, and I appreciated that very much."

The town's three member election board - comprised of Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer, Republican Randy Riggs and Democrat Marion Adkins, who chaired the board - also drew praise from Guerin. "They worked very hard," he said, "and I want to congratulate them on an election well run."

Weber and South both said an important part of their new jobs as Knightstown Town Council members will be finding out what their constituents expect of them and their town government.

"The three of us ran on having more open government," Weber said. "To me, that means getting the input of the people."

"I think we've got to send up a few trial balloons, so to speak, and find out what people are interested in," South said. "Do they want the town cleaned up as far as getting garbage and junk … cleaned up? Do they want new sidewalks? Do they want more police protection? You've got to find out what they want, and then go from there, provided you can afford it."

"I think we need to create some positive images about Knightstown," South continued. "There's a whole lot that's good about this town. There's some things that aren't so good, but I think we can overcome those. I think if we promote the positive images and get everybody thinking in a positive manner, we might get some things turned around to attract some people to come here to live and do business."

The three incumbents who were defeated, Hamilton, Swincher and Glenn, will continue to serve on the council until their terms in office expire at the end of December. The next meeting of the Knightstown Town Council will be Wednesday, November 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Knightstown Town Hall, 26 S. Washington St.


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