By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
The face of the Floyd County Council changed in a big way Tuesday night.
Republicans gained control of the council by winning two of the three At-large seats. The council is now made up of five Republicans and two Democrats.
The top three vote-getters in the At-large race were elected Tuesday. Republican Steve Burks led the way with 17,077 votes, or 18.4 percent; Democrat incumbent Brad Striegel ran second with 16,855 votes, or 18.1 percent; and Republican Jim Wathen was third with 16,088 votes, or 17.3 percent.
Incumbent Democrat Carol Shope, who was seeking a third term on the council, finished fourth with 15,098 votes, or 16.2 percent, Republican Billy Stewart was fifth with 14,184 votes, or 15.2 percent, and Larry Clemons was sixth with 13,526 votes, or 14.5 percent.
Council President Ted Heavrin, a Democrat, was defeated in the primary.
Wathen was running in his fourth election and was all smiles Tuesday after finally breaking through to the win column.
“I guess the fourth time is a charm,” he said. “I’m thrilled; it’s nice to be on the inside. It definitely changes the dynamic of the council. I don’t think Republicans have had a majority on the council for a long time.”
Burks unsuccessfully ran for New Albany City Council previously, and was pleased to be elected to the county council Tuesday.
“I knew it would be a close race,” he said. “We have got to do something to bring the city and county together.”
Wathen also said he wants to work with the city for the good of all residents.
“We have to work together to get things done,” he said. “There are a lot of good things happening in Floyd County.”
Shope was disappointed with the loss, but was upbeat after speaking to supporters at the Knights of Columbus in New Albany.
“You just have to keep rolling,” she said. “When I say I will be back I probably will in some capacity. I had so much support. I was kind of surprised.”
Striegel, the lone Democrat to win in the council race, said he was a bit uneasy when results were trickling in to the K of C. He is completing his first term on the council.
“The city is predominantly Democrat and the county is more independent,” he said. “I hope over the next four years we will be able to mend fences with the city. These are challenging times.”