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UPDATED BY MARIA SIEVERDING MAY 5, 2016 1 P.M.
County chooses Trump, local incumbents
Big turnout for election
Ripley County voters chose a billionaire real estate mogul and a former Secretary of State and First Lady for the U.S. Presidential party nominees, but went with the incumbents for the county and state offices. Donald Trump handily won the Hoosier state presidential nomination for the Republicans, and Ripley County as well with 61.9 percent or 4053 votes. While Bernie Sanders narrowly won the state for the Democrat nomination, Ripley County Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton. She received 768 votes or 51.1 percent to Sander’s 735 votes, or 48.9 percent. It was the first time in many years that Indiana’s primary actually mattered in the race for the White House. Someone working the Versailles poll threw up his arms and said upon the heavy turnout that morning, “We matter! It’s nice to know.”
MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Jim Waldo and Kevin Grimes unloaded the voting equipment and supplies and brought them to the election board to count and record.
Most of the candidates gathered at the courthouse annex around 7 p.m. Tuesday to watch the votes come in on several big screens. The first precinct results were entered at 7 p.m., and 16 precincts were accounted for by 8:15 p.m., but final results weren’t finished until about 9:10. The delay was caused by a computer not reading one memory card properly, according to Kelly Vollett, technology coordinator. While it was a full slate of Ripley County candidates on the Republican ballot, most attributed the big turnout to the hotly contested presidential race. The voter turnout for Ripley County was 37 percent which meant 6617 ballots were cast. In 2012’s May Primary, it was 20.18 percent and in 2008, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battling for the win, it was 33 percent. “It was the largest one in years, a great turnout and I think it was due to the presidents,” said Ripley County Republican chairman Ginger Bradford. County Clerk Mary Ann McCoy commented, “It was busy, the busiest I’ve ever encounter. There was just a lot of interest in the races.” She believes it was a record primary turnout at least in recent history. They encouraged voters to use the touch screen due to the heavy turnout, she said. Matter of fact, four precincts, Holton, Delaware, Adams 1 and Adams 2, ran out of Republican ballots, according to David Green, election board for the democrats, and they had to take extra ones there. The Republicans came out in full force, but that wasn’t the case for Democrats. They had no local contested elections. Cynthia Melton, the party’s vice chair, commented that some Democrats pulled Republican ballots because they wanted to vote for local candidates and felt their vote meant little.
Both Bradford and McCoy were also running for a county office and both won. Bradford won the nomination for county clerk with 3866 votes or 64.5 percent to Elaine Haessig Mortara’s 2,119 votes which was 34.5 percent. McCoy admitted she didn’t give her own election much thought Tuesday as she was consumed with running the election. But she won over three others for the recorder nomination with 49 percent of the vote and 3,008 votes. Mark Bushing had 24.6 percent of the votes or 1,503 ballots; Melissa Gartenman Hinners had 1015 votes or 16.6 percent and Keri Johnson had 565 or 9.2 percent. The closest race of the night for the county was coroner. Ron Reynolds Jr., of Napoleon, the current coroner, received 1,587 or 28.3 percent of the ballots cast, with Rodney Stepleton behind at 1,437 votes or 25.6 percent. Randy Hornsby and Lynn McDonald were also up for the nomination, and drew in 1,341 (23.9 %) and 1,239 votes (22.1 %) respectively. There were two commissioner seats up for grabs. Rodney Stratton, a former interim sheriff, captured the district 2 win with 3,977 votes or 68.2 percent. Bill McDonald had 1,847 votes or 31.7 percent. The District 3 commissioner race was closer. Gary Stutler, the current president of the commissioners, was challenged by Greg Federmann. Stutler won with 3,052 votes (52.9 %) to Federmann’s 2,716 (47 %). Republican voters had six people to choose from the three county council seats, but again went with the incumbents. Brenda Wetzler, council president, received the most votes with 3,501 or 24 percent, followed by Mark Horstman, 3,216 or 22 percent and William Warren, with 2,948 or 20.2 percent. Challengers were Matt Chastain, Richard Stevens (1564 or 10.7 %)and David Forwalt (1246 or 8.5 %). Chastain received 2104 votes or 14 percent and said afterwards he was pleased over 2,000 people checked his name. Horstman commented before the results came in that four years ago he ran as a 26 year old. “Now I’m one of the old guys. I’m 30!” He said there was a lot of interest in the presidential election on the local side. “I did hear several people saying they don’t vote in the Primary but would vote in this one. No one could recall a time when it was this big.” Amy Copeland didn’t need to be as nervous as she was before the results came in. The current treasurer, Copeland received 4220 or 70.8 percent of the vote to David Lawrence’s 1735 votes or 29.1 percent. Osgood and Holton also had primary elections. Tammy Wilhoit won 236 votes for clerk treasurer against Michael Abbott Sr. who had 72 votes or 23 percent. Vickie Holliday, a Democrat, was uncontested on the ballot for Osgood council at large. Wilhoit and Holliday will be on the fall ballot. There were no contested races for the three Holton council seats: Amber May, Andrew Stratton and Paul Hughes. They will also be on the fall ballot.
The Democrats will have their work cut out for them filling seats for the fall election. The party has until July to fill any seats on the ballot. Besides Holliday, the only other Democrat on the county ballot was Bill Dramann for council. McCoy noted they had 776 absentee votes.
Ripley County also chose the incumbent for the 6th district congressional seat in Luke Messer. He ended up easily winning the district against his two challengers. He got 4527 votes here. He’ll face Barry Welsh, who won on the Democrat side, in the fall election. State Sen. Jean Leising, State Reps. Randy Frye and Cindy Ziemke were unopposed. Democrat Mimi Pruett will face Ziemke in the fall election. Todd Young won the state nomination and Ripley County with 75 percent or 4353 votes here. He’ll face Democrat Baron Hill in the fall. The candidates for governor had no opposition: John Gregg will face Republican Mike Pence for governor. McCoy praised the poll workers, election board and staff. She also put in a plug for the fall election, saying any interested persons who would like to work the polls, should call the clerk’s office.
Local Bulletin Board
Deadline: June 10
Entries for farm award
Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau welcome nominations for the 2016 John Arnold Award for Rural Preservation. The award recognizes the preservation and continued agricultural use of historic farm buildings in Indiana. Anyone, including farm owners, can submit a nomination for the Arnold Award. Read rules and more details on page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated May 3.