Tuesday’s Rising Sun Municipal election saw a near sweep by democrats as they claimed every seat but one.
Incumbents Rae Baker Gipson and Bud Radcliff led the ticket.
Gipson was top vote getter defeating challenger Cliff Thies 539-262.
Radcliff (D) posted a 421-369 win over challenger Don Thomason.
Newcomer Brent Bascom unseated republican mayor April Hautman 491-312. Hautman had been serving out the term of Branden Roeder after he resigned to take the school superintendent position. She has served more than 20 years with the county.
It was a result echoed throughout southeastern Indiana. Only Aurora mayor Donnie Hastings survived the challenge. Among the other winners were former Rising Sun Postmaster Alan Weiss (running as an independent) winning the Greendale mayor’s race over former state representative Bob Bischoff.
During the day, Bascom expressed confidence if the turnout was around 800. There were 810 ballots cast.
The weather was great and everybody was pleased with the turnout but it was only 44 percent. There were 810 votes cast out of 1832 registered voters.
Precinct one had 196 of 446 votes cast with 170 of 362 in precinct two, 239 of 528 in precinct three and 205 of 496 in precinct four.
“We had a great strategy and message,” noted Bascom, which included a lot on social media.
“People want to believe in the city,” he contends. “Our focus will be on everybody working together with the same goal. I need to thank my wife Gina who makes this possible. Also, thanks to my parents Vic and Patty Bascom and Gina’s parents, Gene and Lisa Walton.
“Also the Ohio County Democrat Party (chairman) Brian Graham and (vice chairman) Pam McClure, Mostly, the people of Rising Sun for trusting me to lead this city for the next four years. It’s a great responsibility and I’m excited to get started.
“First thing I want to do is sit down with city council to ask what we want to do. What are our priorities? They (council) were given the same great responsibility as me.
“I’m very fortunate to have someone like Rae (Gipson) to help me out. I want to meet with all boards and tell them they have my support. The book for Rising Sun hasn’t been written. We’re ready to start a new chapter. Our message resonated with not just democrats but citizens of Rising Sun.”
“I knew it was going to be close but not this,” said Hautman. Two previously elected republican councilmen (Steve Slack and Mike Padgett) chose not to run again .
“Tough times are facing our city and I’ve been putting my focus on getting a plan together when that time comes,” said Hautman, things like the consolidation of services and jobs. “We have a perfect opportunity with the (recent resignation of the) Main Street director. Every mayor needs a plan. The riverfront is out of the way so there are no major projects. I don’t know what their plans are.”
She said she has always had communications with the clerk treasurer, council and with the boat. “I have had an open door.”
However, when people look to vote for change, the mayor as leader is often part of that change.
“Some say that boat isn’t going anywhere,” she added. “If the sky falls I’m going to be ready for it.”
Republican Dennis Williams was the lone GOP winner with a 401-375 win in precinct four over former Switzerland County Sheriff Garry Forwood. He has been serving on council since Gary Kinnett resigned after winning a seat on the school board.
“It really surprises me,” Williams admitted of being the only republican elected. “We had a lot of great candidates.”
He also was surprised of his win being the closest, 26 vote margin saying, “He isn’t from here.”
Forwood had the lead over Williams in precinct one and two while Williams secured the win with 10 votes in precinct three and a 39 vote edge in precinct 4.
Francis Swede Colen (a former republican sheriff in Ohio County) won the only democratic primary over Jim McDaniel and was a 430-356 winner over challenger Patty Huff in precinct 1.
Huff won precinct four and Thomason precinct three in the only other precincts carried by republican candidates.
Former mayor Bill Marksberry (D) returned to the political scene with a 506-283 win over Mike Peters in precinct 2.
The precinct 3 council seat went to former school board member John Rumsey (D) who got the nod over Dennis Jones, 510-270.
The original vote totals were released without the more than 200 absentee votes included. The final tabulation had no changes from the first count.
Ohio County Election Board member Mick Liggett reported there were eight provisional ballots and those voters have 10 days to give proof of identification for their vote to count.
The new democrat party dominance saw the democrat voters post a 132-95 advantage in straight tickets.
Chairman Graham explained his party’s success saying, “We’re staying together. We’re really strong… Trying to include everyone. The people voted for a change. It was a good year for us with two incumbents (Gipson and Radcliff) who had been elected before. Those two worked their tails off.”
Graham also expressed appreciation to Hautman for her leadership along with council.