City elections see some surprises

Saturday, April 8, 2017

One-vote margin determines winner in Wheaton

Municipal elections followed a trend in the bi-county area on Tuesday, where first-time candidates ran strongly and conventional wisdom frequently led to surprises.

Lawrence County

Aurora: Voters upended both incumbents on the Aurora city council. Larry Marks, who lost his re-election bid last year, stormed to the top of a five-way field with 266 votes.

First-time candidate Stephen Wiles edged out incumbent Linda Barton by one vote, earning 233 ballots to 232 for Barton. The other incumbent, Rosemary Henderson, came in fourth with 195. Past incumbent Lisa Rentfro finished last with 138 votes.

Mt. Vernon: The only contested race in Mt. Vernon was for the Ward 4 alderman's seat. Incumbent Jason Haynes, who ran unopposed two years ago, received 124 votes to hold off a challenge by first-time candidate Richard Fobair, who had 64 votes.

Ward 2 was open for a write-in race. First-time candidate Sherie Thrasher mustered the only major campaign with 18 votes. Richard Fobair and David Wright each received two votes. Other candidates received one vote.

Miller: Five first-time candidates sought the two open city council seats when no incumbents filed. Rising to the top of the field were two cousins, Amy Johnson with 88 votes and Robert Johnson with 81 votes.

Out of the running were Amy Arbuckle with 46, Dawn Gwin with 45 and Aerron Tate with 12.

Marionville: The only race in Marionville pitted former mayor David Arnsmeyer against incumbent alderman George Jennings for the Ward 1 seat. Jennings, who ran unopposed in 2015, mustered 64 votes, almost half of what he had two years ago, to hold off Arnsmeyer with 26.

Barry County

Wheaton: One of the hottest races in both counties was for the East Ward alderman's seat in Wheaton. Incumbent Gary Bates, who ran unopposed two years ago, barely held off challenger Stephen Holmes, winning 32-31.

"I really don't know what generated so much interest," Bates said. "I think 63 votes is the most people won have voted on one side of Wheaton ever.

"I ran for the same position about 40 years ago and won by two votes. I don't know how I had an edge. I figured it might be close. Competition doesn't hurt."

The West Ward election was much calmer. Stephen Wilkerson, who got the job in 2015 after unopposed candidate Naomi Young resigned and won a one-year term a year ago, earned 24 votes. His opponent, first-time candidate Alan Birchfield, mustered only three votes.

Cassville: Incumbent Cassville Mayor Bill Shiveley had no trouble winning re-election over first-time candidate Colby Lowe. Shiveley, who earned 400 votes running unopposed two years ago, earned 235 votes to 78 for Lowe.

Washburn: An at-large alderman's race in Washburn offered a rematch between incumbent Jeremy Johnston and challenger Mary Roller. Although the challenger gained ground, it wasn't enough to change the outcome. Johnston had 48 votes, 10 more than in 2015, while Roller ended the day with 32, up from 23 in 2015.

Seligman: One municipal race may still hang in the balance, depending on the outcome of write-in votes. The East Ward in Seligman was open to a write-in election when no one filed. Seven votes were cast. Ron Corn seemed to be the leader with two votes, but one vote each was also cast for Robert Corn and Bobby Corn, which may be the same person. The remaining votes went one each for Bob Hughes, Lois Anderson and Steve Cline.

According to County Clerk Gary Youngblood, it will be up to the city to locate the write-in candidates, determine if they are eligible to serve and see who is willing. With a potential tie, the winner may be determined by the flip of a coin.

Village of Arrow Point: The distinction of every vote mattering especially applied to the Village of Arrow Point on Table Rock Lake. With three people running for two seats, the results were almost a complete tie. Kendall Hanson and Kayleen Lentz each received six votes to secure wins. David Hoeck came in right behind with five votes.

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