Mayor Dave Kitchell

Mayor Dave Kitchell answers a question during a candidate forum last month.

Incumbent Democratic Mayor Dave Kitchell was narrowly defeated by Republican challenger Chris Martin in Tuesday’s municipal election. He lost by just 57 votes.

Kitchell said he was disappointed in the media coverage of the mayoral race and by the lack of turnout among local Democrats.

“I don’t think we had a single story about a lot of our accomplishments,” he said. “It’s hard to run well when we don’t have people covering the stories coming out of our meetings.”

Kitchell said that a 23.8 percent total turnout wasn’t going to carry the day when Democrats don’t have the majority of voters registered in Logansport.

“I think there was this perception that we had this in the bag — we had it won, we didn’t have anything to worry about,” he said. “We had Republicans that crossed over to vote for us but we just had a lot of people that stayed home — especially the independent voters that figured it was a forgone conclusion.”

He added that his campaign had 22 people canvassing door-to-door and that they had more radio, more newspaper, more online presence and more billboards.

“The fact of the matter is that when you have a number of people — Mike Fincher among them — who took the party down entirely in 2011, and then tried to hijack the election this year for somebody else, it sent a very negative message to the electorate,” he continued. “So the Democrats have Terry Doran to blame, they have Mike Fincher to blame — that didn’t help anything at all.”

Fincher was a Democratic mayor of Logansport from 2004-2012. Fincher put his support behind Doran when he announced in June that he would challenge Kitchell. Doran, who ran as a Democrat and was elected to one of Logansport’s two at-large seats on City Council, was later disqualified from this year’s mayoral race when the Cass County Democratic Party successfully challenged that he did not get the needed number of petition signatures as required by state law.

When reached for comment on Kitchell’s statement, Doran said “the party was divided by the mayor when he invited a newcomer to run for an at-large seat on City Council that was already held by a Democrat. It’s time for [the mayor] to admit that his problems are his problems.”

Fincher declined to comment immediately, indicating he may do so in a letter to the editor at a later date.

Kitchell said he was proud of his department heads, Deputy Mayor Mercedes Brugh and Executive Assistant Marla Evanich.

“We could not have worked any harder to do what we did and accomplish what we did,” he said. “I feel like Logansport moved light years forward. Now it will be up to the City Council to do all that. They are going to have to lead the city of Logansport for the next four years.”

Over the last four years under Kitchell’s watch, the city’s unemployment rate has gone down, while population and property values have risen. The city’s assessed valuation is up $24 million or six percent in the past four years, which is the third best growth among the seven communities in Logansport’s peer group. The city’s assessed value had dropped during the previous four years prior to his administration.

The Pharos-Tribune also reported extensively on a number of projects completed under the Kitchell administration, including: The adoption of master plans for parks and housing and committed tax increment financing and economic development income tax funding to projects totaling $135 million; the development of new homes and various other housing projects; the city receiving accolades including being named the 10th safest city in the state and realtor.com’s designation as the No. 1 small town in the country; the recently announced the sale of the Logansport Mall property to a Chicago-based developer; and plans for the city’s first solar field.

Reach Quentin Blount at quentin.blount@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130. Twitter: @quentinblount

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