By BRADEN LAMMERS
CLARK COUNTY —
Going into the general election, it was clear that there were going to be some new faces on the next Clark County Council.
After Tuesday’s general election, three out of the four council seats up for grabs went to Republicans, with Barbara Hollis the lone incumbent Democrat that held onto her post.
The results were somewhat surprising to the candidates in the margins of victory and for some the anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat sentiment that swept through the historically Democratic Clark County.
In Clark County’s District 2, Republican Brian Lenfert, 28, received 3,086 votes, or 56.6 percent, defeating incumbent Democrat Jackie Stocksdale Dickman, who garnered 2,369 votes, or 43.4 percent.
Going into the election, Lenfert said he was cautiously optimistic.
He recounted a conversation that he had with a Democratic committee member early in his campaign that told him he could not be able to win as a Republican in Clarksville.
“You’ll have to knock on every door in Clarksville to win,” Lenfert said about the conversation. “So I knocked on every door twice.”
But the key to his victory was the economy, spending and national sentiment.
“There’s no way I can give myself all the credit,” Lenfert said. “It’s definitely a national trend, but I had no idea that national trend would make it all the way down to Clarksville.”
While both candidates said they were a little surprised by the totals, Dickman, 56, said she knew the race was over early.
“When the first precinct came, I knew,” she said.
Dickman explained with the history of the precinct, she knew when the total came back she had lost the race. She said she even stopped by Republican headquarters to congratulate Lenfert on the win and a well-conducted race.
“We have the same values,” she said. “It’s Republicans’ turn and that’s the way things happen.
As he enters his first term as a council member, he said the council needs to control spending.
“As the economy recovers, our tax revenue will recover, but until then we need to, at best, flatline spending and maybe even cut,” he said. “I think what you’re looking at is a voter mandate that the voters are expecting changes. So I really think existing county council members and incoming council members will for the most part be on the same page and realize the mandate that was put forward tonight and realize real changes need to happen.”
Clark County’s second district covers Jeffersonville Township west of Interstate 65 — largely Clarksville.
Precincts that are represented in the district are 27 and 30 through 42, which encompasses 24 percent of the county’s population.
In Clark County’s fourth district, Republican Steve Doherty beat out Democrat Brenda Ross by 1,760 votes.
Doherty, 42, collected 5,677 votes, or 59.2, percent to Ross’ 3,917 votes, or 40.8 percent.
During his acceptance speech at the American Legion — where Republicans were gathered in Jeffersonville — Doherty thanked his family for helping his campaign and said that it was the values his family instilled that helped him win the election.
“People know the type of person that I am and that’s what I ran on,” Doherty said. “That’s what people are looking for.”
When asked what he will do when he begins his term, Doherty said he would start by looking at county budgets and meeting with offices once the county receives its final budget figures back from the state.
“We’re in a recession. I still feel ... and I want to do what we can do to conserve and save,” he said. “I look forward to working with [Brian] Lenfert and Danny Yost on the council and we’re going to bring our conservative values [to the council].”
Ross, 45, said she was surprised by the results of Tuesday’s election.
“I guess the citizens decided they wanted a change,” she said. “I guess it was kind of shocking.”
Following her first campaign for elected office, Ross said she didn’t think she would run again.
“I ran because of the way the county was being run,” she said. “I wanted a change and I was for change, but I wasn’t the candidate they wanted.”
Ross cited the Republican party push as a factor for her loss and the loss of other Democrats losing their seats in the state.
District 4 includes Bethlehem, Charlestown, Oregon, Owen, Utica and Washington Townships and the council member represents 19 percent of the county’s population.
A former council Republican, Danny Yost, reclaimed his seat in District 3, collecting 6,364 votes, or 65.6 percent, to defeat Democrat Donnie Croft, who had 3,336 votes, or 34.4 percent.
Yost, 51, will begin his second term on the council, formerly serving from 2004-08.
“What a difference two years makes,” he said during his acceptance speech. “I wasn’t surprised by the wins, but I was surprised by some of the margins.”
Yost claimed his victory early in the night and his opponent was also somewhat surprised by the win.
“We had a rough time out there,” Croft, 57, said. “I knew it was going to be tough for me anyway [but] I was surprised by the results locally.”
When his new term begins in January, Yost said he will look to address budget issues right away.
“We’re going to have to address the spending,” he said. “That’s all we heard during the campaign. I’m looking forward to going to work in January.”
District 3 covers all of Carr, Monroe, Silver Creek, Union and Wood Townships and represents 20 percent of the county’s population.
The lone incumbent to hold onto their seat was Democratic Councilwoman Barbara Hollis.
Hollis won, receiving 3,984 votes, or 53.6 percent, against Republican challenger James Pendleton, who received 3,448 votes, or 46.4 percent.
While Hollis, 66, said she was not surprised by the outcome, she was surprised by the final numbers.
“I had a real concern for the anti-incumbent movement that I felt,” she said.
Pendleton echoed Hollis comments.
“I think I had a pretty decent showing and I learned a lot, which is part of the reason for running,” Pendleton said. “I did not start nearly early enough [and] I think my showing has more to do with [the anti-incumbent sentiment] than anything I had personally done.”
With the change in the makeup of the council, Hollis said there will challenges ahead.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and when there are new people there is a learning curve,” she said. “I don’t care who you are. It’s going to take a while for them to get acclimated.”
But Hollis still expects the council to work together.
“Its been my experience on the council that once the election is over and we start working together the Democrat and Republican signs go away,” she said. “I would hope there would be the same type of relationship. There’s going to be some tough decisions we’re going to have to make.”
District 1 includes Jeffersonville Township east of Interstate 65, precincts 1-18 and 20-25. The district represents about 37 percent of the county’s population.
The remaining three seats on the council are at-large appointments and the terms don’t expire until 2012.