KENDALLVILLE — Once again, it’s a GOP sweep.
And, for the first time in 60 years, Republicans hold all the city offices in Kendallville.
Voters opted to keep a full roster of Republican leaders in Kendallville, selecting incumbents Suzanne Handshoe, Regan Ford and Amy Ballard for mayor, city council at-large and city council District 3, respectively.
On Tuesday, 24.2% of the eligible voters cast ballots in the election.
Republicans cruised in this year’s election, with all three winning by comfortable margins.
Handshoe, whom voters are sending to her fifth term, defeated Democrat Tim Schlotter with 69.8% of the vote.
For council-at large, Ford locked in his fourth term, collecting 63.7% of ballots cast and defeating Democrat Tony Mark.
And in the 3rd District — which covers the area roughly between Wayne Street, Riley Street, Iddings Street and Allen Chapel Road — voters opted to give Ballard her first full term on the council with 68.3% over Sachiko Janek.
“I’m elated. I’m humbled. I’m ecstatic,” Handshoe said after results were announced. “I feel that Kendallville is positioned for greatness and my campaign has been striving for our best and we’re going to keep pushing forward. Stay tuned for good news.”
The mayor said she knocked on more than 1,000 doors this campaign and heard from a lot of residents that they felt the city was on the right track. Voters backed that notion at the polls.
Ballard, who was caucused into office at the beginning of this year, said she’s excited for her first full four-year term, especially since Kendallville has many big projects in the hopper.
“I don’t even know where to start. There is so much we have on the horizon,” Ballard said. “We’re super excited about the downtown streetscape. We were just able to tear down the gas station across from city hall which was a huge eyesore. Obviously we’re going to be working on housing, continue to work on that and see what we can do to entice people to live in Kendallville.”
Ford, too, said big days are ahead, and he hopes the city will engage in more public-private partnerships to help spur new development and growth. Government working together with businesses and organizations is the path forward, he said, as he heads into his fourth term.
“I am beyond ecstatic. To win by such a big margin, too, is really heartwarming. It was a great night, and I consider it to be a great night for the people of Kendallville,” Ford said. “We’re going to be working together, and I think the next four years are going to be fantastic.”
Unopposed candidates in Kendallville included clerk-treasurer Katie Ritchie, city council District 1 councilman Jim Dazey, District 2 councilman Steve Clouse and District 4 councilman Corey Boese.
For a municipal election year, when turnout is typically at its worst, voters stepped up to post better-than-average turnout, even if only 1-in-4 residents voted.
Voting got off to a good clip on Tuesday and stayed constant throughout the day, election workers reported.
After having about 400 early votes prior to Election Day — 223 during two early voting Saturdays, 71 votes at the Noble County Courthouse and about 100 mail-in absentees — another 412 people had voted between 6 a.m. and noon, Noble County Clerk Shelley Mawhorter reported.
Mawhorter brought an extra poll pad to Kendallville, since voters were getting queued in short lines while waiting to get signed in.
With the second poll pad up, four voting machines available and a short ballot to vote on, residents hitting the polls were able to generally get in and out in a short minute or two.
That routine kept up throughout the afternoon hours, with about another 400 voters coming in after lunch.
Comparing turnout cycle-to-cycle in municipal elections isn’t apples-to-apples, because the size and content of the ballot can vary greatly, but even by those measures this year was bigger than usual.
Turnout in this year’s primary election was just 9%. It was 19.7% in the 2015 general election, but that fall was only that high because the ballot had the East Noble Middle School building referendum on it.