CLARKSVILLE — Democrats regained their lead on the Clarksville Town Council Tuesday, after Republicans took the lead in 2015 for the first time in decades.
The newly-elected council, which will be seated Jan. 1, is made up of four Democrats and three Republicans, replacing the current 5-2 Republican majority.
"We were very hopeful about Clarksville in general," Clark County Democratic Party Chair Kate Miller said. "I think not only did we see races that were attainable and we won, but in other districts we had really close races."
In District 3, Democratic newcomer Ryan P. Ramsey defeated incumbent David Red Worrall, 568 to 453; Ramsey got 55.6 percent of the vote to Worrall's 44.4. District 1 also saw a close race with Democrat Michaelia Gilbert, also new to politics, edging up close to Republican incumbent Tim Hauber with just a 16-vote margin. Hauber, just elected to his third term, came away with 448 votes or 49.9 percent of the vote; Gilbert received 431 votes or 48 percent and Libertarian Greg Hertzsh got 19 votes or 2 percent of the vote.
In District 2, Democratic incumbent John Gilkey was elected to a third term with 262 votes or 54.7 percent of the vote over opponents Dee Shelton, Republican, who received 184 votes or 38.4 percent of the vote and Russell Brooksbank, Libertarian, who got 33 votes or 6.9 percent.
Democrat Mike Mustain, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2015 Clarksville municipal election, won District 4 Tuesday with 441 votes or 55 percent of the vote, beating Republican Andre Jones (349 votes) and Libertarian Arthur Ritchings (16 votes).
Republican Jennifer Voignier, currently serving in District 4, came away with the victory in her new run as an At-large candidate. She received 1798 votes followed by Democrat Karen Henderson with 1,630 votes — the two beat out opponents Connie Ison, Republican, David (Yogi) Paris, Democrat and Thomas Keister, Libertarian.
Bob Leuthart, Democratic incumbent Clerk Treasurer, retained his seat with 2,054 votes over Lauren Parry's 1,871.
"I think everybody worked hard and the results tonight show that," Miller, the party chair, said. "John Gilkey is a name that of course everybody will be familiar with but in District 3, Ryan Ramsey, another brand new candidate, Mike Mustain winning a race, a name that's very familiar in Clarksville."
This was the first municipal election in Clarksville since the current council approved the move to district voting. Prior to this election, Clarksville voters could vote for all candidates even if they were running in a particular district, making the council members essentially all At-large candidates in the election.
With the new system, voters select a candidate from their district and two At-large candidates. Some current Republican council members previously told the News and Tribune they wanted to support this system because it gives more fair representation to voters; even though they knew it could mean they'd lose the majority.
"I think it totally gave us the upper hand in the races," Miller said. "District voting was totally a win for Democrats."