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November 9, 2011

Republicans nearly run the table

After election, GOP has six of seven Logan council seats

LOGANSPORT — Republican candidates ruled Election Day in Logansport, surging to a victory in the mayoral race and taking five of six available City Council seats.

Challenger Ted Franklin’s defeat of Democratic Mayor Mike Fincher and incumbent candidate Seger Mathew led the way Tuesday, but Republican candidates also secured seats in Wards 1, 2, 4 and 5, as well as an at-large position, according to unofficial results.

The second at-large seat was taken by Charlie Hastings, a Democrat-turned-independent candidate who, after he losing spring mayoral primary to Fincher, publicly backed Franklin. Hastings edged Republican newcomer Chris Martin by just three votes, according to the unofficial totals.

Kay Weatherwax, Cass County Republican Party chairwoman, said the party was elated to have all but one seat on the council.

Republican Gary Fox ran unopposed for the Ward 3 seat.

“It was hard work,” Weatherwax said. “We got a lot of help from our precinct people. It all started with month after month of interviews last summer, and we feel we picked the right people.”

Two of the Republican challengers knocked off Democratic incumbents. Teresa Popejoy beat Kerry Worthington in Ward 5, and Bob Bishop topped Brannon Meagher in Ward 1.

Popejoy said she was surprised to knock off Worthington, who had represented the ward for the last eight years.

“This area is very heavily Democrat, and for a Republican to win is unusual,” she said. “I think just generally the citizens of Logansport are ready for change.”

Worthington agreed, saying he thought voters “wanted a change.” The two-time incumbent said he was proud of his service.

“In my eight years, I think I’ve done as much for this city as anybody,” he said. “I just think I got caught up in everybody pulling the straight Republican ticket.”

Fox in Ward 3 and Joseph Buck, who beat Democrat David Oresik in Ward 2, are the other Republican newcomers.

Incumbent Republican Chuck LaDow easily retained his seat, though he said the push for change had even him worried.

“The Republicans ran a platform on sweeping change, which is scary when you’re the incumbent,” LaDow said. “I laid low during the campaign.”

He said the city had been primarily Democratic his whole life.

“To see that not one Democrat was elected was kind of shocking,” he said.

He said it would be good to get some fresh faces on the council, but he doesn’t think it will change much since the Republicans already had the majority.

Jeremy Ashcraft agreed with that sentiment. An incumbent councilman representing Ward 3, he successfully made the move to an at-large seat Tuesday. Ashcraft was the top vote-getter for the at-large seats.

“There were never Ds and Rs with the current council,” he said. “And there’s no excuse for it now.”

Ashcraft said despite the current political divide on the council, the body had accomplished much over the past four years.

“We’ve made some progress,” he said. “Maybe people don’t see it that way, but I think we have.”

Incumbent Hastings also appeared to retain his seat Tuesday night, though he edged Martin by only three votes, 1,617 to 1,614. Martin could not be reached late Tuesday, so it was unclear whether he would ask for a recount.

• Additional reporting for this story was contributed by Lindsey Ziliak and Jason M. Rodriguez.

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