November 7, 2012

Cass County Republicans retain commissioner and council seats

by Amie Sites and Caitlin Huston

— Republican County Council and County Commissioner candidates had reason to celebrate Tuesday evening. 

Incumbent Republicans George Stebbins and Jeffrey LeDonne and newcomer Republican Stacey Donato swept the County Council at-large race, while incumbent Republican Jim Sailors was re-elected as county commissioner. 

Sailors said he believed his re-election meant voters believed he had been doing a good job. 

“It makes you kind of humble that the majority are happy with what you’re doing,” he said. 

Sailors said he did not want to talk about his positions during the campaign because of the negative campaigning by his opponent, Democrat Timothy Banter Sr.

Moving forward, Sailors said the commissioners would continue to work on the roads and other projects. He joins Republican Ralph Anderson, who was unopposed, on the three-member board of commissioners. Anderson, a former County Council president, will fill the seat vacated by Gene Powlen. 

Stebbins stood for election for the first time, having been chosen to replace Chod Gibson, who resigned from the council in 2011. 

“It’s the first time that I’ve won, so it’s exciting,” he said. 

Stebbins described Homburg and Peattie as friends, but he said he was happy to work with Donato and LeDonne. 

Donato, who recorded the highest vote total among the council candidates, said she was “ecstatic” about the results. 

Asked what contributed to the big number, Donato speculated voters were looking for a new face. 

“Maybe they’re just looking for change, something new,” she said. 

Tom Weatherwax, the vice chair of the Republican Party, said he believed Donato brought in new votes for the party. 

“It’s very important that we support and encourage women and minority votes,” he said. 

Incumbent LeDonne, who was interviewed on the phone after the results came in, said he was “relieved” to hear he had won. 

Jeff LeDonne, a self employed farmer who grew up in Cass County, said he is conservative and enjoys working with others. He said the fact he is easy-going and his previous experience makes him a good candidate. 

“You never know going into them,” LeDonne said. 

Democrat Terry Homburg, who came within 158 votes of claiming a council seat, said he was disappointed in the outcome. As of Tuesday night, he didn’t think he would run again but he wasn’t ruling it out 100 percent. 

Democrat Scott Peattie said his party worked hard and got a lot of support. 

“I don’t like people running unopposed,” he said. “I like to make people work for their elections, which they did tonight.” 

Donato, who worked the last 26 years in automotive accounting and recently joined the Mike Anderson Auto Group, said she realizes she has a lot to learn — council members have told her it takes one-and-a-half years to learn the budget — but she is planning to “hit that learning curve as hard as I can,” she said. 

When she takes office, she said she hopes to work to on the county’s budget. 

“Hopefully to bring a new light on Cass County’s budget,” she said. 

Weatherwax said he believes Donato will do well. 

“She brings the future of our community,” Weatherwax said. 

Amie Sites is a reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5150 or