NEW ALBANY — Will Jeff Gahan win a third term? Will the Republicans take control of the New Albany City Council? Will Democrats take back at-large city council seats?
The voters will answer those questions in the General Election on Nov. 5.
Republicans have dominated recent county-wide elections and picked up seats on the city council four years ago, when Dr. Al Knable, David Barksdale and David Aebersold swept the at-large race; all three are running for re-election. The Democrats will counter with Jason Applegate, Sam Charbonneau and Christina Estill. The balance of the city council could be decided by the at-large race.
"If I was one of the three Republicans, I would be really worried," Floyd County Democratic Party Chairman Adam Dickey said. "We have solid candidates. Honestly, we think we have a lot of opportunity in the at-large race."
The current city council is comprised of four Democrats, three Republicans and two independents.
Republican Party Chairman Shawn Carruthers is also confident in his three at-large candidates — along with the rest of his slate.
"We have people with a lot of different talents running for city council. We probably have more talent on the ballot than New Albany has ever had in its history," he said.
Four Democrats — Bob Caesar, District 2; Greg Phipps, District 3; Pat McLaughlin, District 4 and Matt Nash, District 5 — are running for re-election. A new representative will take the District 1 seat as longtime incumbent Dan Coffey, an independent, did not seek re-election; he plans on running for mayor. Council President Scott Blair, another independent, also plans to run for re-election in District 6.
It all makes for some interesting match-ups.
Two women, Republican Stefanie Griffith and Democrat Jennie Collier, will face off in District 1; Caesar will run against Scott Stewart in District 2, Phipps will be challenged by Alex Bilbrey in District 3, while McLaughlin will face political newcomer Cisa Kubley in District 4.
Nash is running against Josh Turner in District 5, and three candidates — Blair, Democrat Lisa Chandler and Republican Scott Evans — seek the District 6 seat.
"We feel like we have a lot of energy on our side," Dickey said. "The mayor is a very strong candidate who will run on his accomplishments. We have candidates who are committed to making their community a better place to live."
It's hard to gauge anything from the low primary numbers. Only 14 percent of registered voters went to the polls Tuesday in New Albany and Georgetown. Republicans only had one contested race, that was in District 2, where Stewart defeated Amanda Pahmeier. Only 1,028 Republicans voted compared to 3,178 Democrats.
"We knew there would be a low turnout on our side with one contested race," Carruthers said. "It's exactly what we expected. Heading into the fall, we are expecting a great turnout. I am really proud of the diversity we have brought to the ballot. Overall, we have a talented group of candidates."
Dickey was pleased with the energy he saw from his candidates and voters Tuesday, and he expects that to grow heading into the fall campaign season.
"Under Democratic leadership, New Albany and Georgetown have grown and prospered with strong, quality parks; critical infrastructure improvements; and public safety enhancements," he said in an email. "We have stood against discrimination, empowered economic development, and revitalized struggling areas of our community. Our candidates are qualified and ready to serve on the first day in office."
The race for mayor should be an interesting one. Neither candidate has ever lost an election. Gahan served two terms on the city council and is seeking a third term as mayor. Seabrook was on the city council for three terms and was a Floyd County Commissioner for three terms.
Gahan says he is running on a record of accomplishment over the past seven years, while Seabrook said he will concentrate on neighborhoods, transparency in government and fiscal responsibility.
If Coffey runs as an independent as he has said he will do, it will only add to the drama and could take votes away from Gahan. Also, it remains to be seen how many of the 1,337 people who voted for White in his primary challenge against Gahan will support the mayor in November.
Dickey believes the majority of White's supporters will vote for Gahan, even after the tough primary race. White said Tuesday he has not decided whether he will endorse or support Gahan in the fall.
"They want to keep moving the city forward, not backwards," Dickey said.
Carruthers said he wants voters to know that Republicans are ready to provide new leadership across the board, and it starts with Seabrook as mayor.
"Mark is a person who listens to the voters and citizens of New Albany," he said. "He wants what the voters are asking for, be involved in the neighborhoods, transparency and fiscal responsibility. I am really excited about Mark."
Floyd County Clerk Danita Burks said the primary election will be "closed out" on May 17, which will include adding provisional ballots to the final numbers.