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Mayor Long looks ahead to the next four years

By Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

When the dust settled Tuesday night, there was some change on the Wabash City Council, but Mayor Scott Long was re-elected without opposition to another four-year term on Election Day.

“(We’re) still formulating what we want to do next four years. We’re going to continue road projects, repaving and things of that nature. Try to attract foreign investment if possible, as well as other investments locally in the community to just keep pushing forward,” said Long in a phone interview Wednesday.

For the Wabash City Council (At Large) race, Republicans John S. Burnsworth and Bryan Dillon were victorious over Democrat Dan Townsend. Burnsworth received 496 votes (42.83 percent), Dillon received 401 votes (34.63 percent) and Townsend received 261 votes (22.54 percent).

The rest of the Wabash City Council ran unopposed, including:

n District 1: Mitch Figert (R) – 107 votes.

n District 2: David W. Monroe (R) – 61 votes.

n District 3: Terry Brewer Jr. (R) – 104 votes.

n District 4: Susan Bonfitto (R) – 116 votes.

n District 5: Doug Adams (R) – 164 votes.

“I really don’t see any major changes, even though we’re swapping personnel on the City Council,” said Long. “They’ll keep pushing forward. They’ve seen what we’ve done in the last four years. Part of that was why they wanted to get involved and I think all the winners want to continue pushing the ball down the field and keep making Wabash better than it is.”

Lack of contested races county-wide

Only two other races in North Manchester were contested in Wabash County this year.

For the North Manchester Town Council District 1 (At Large) races, Republican Laura Rager received 312 votes (64.46 percent) to Independent Kevin Shambarger’s 172 votes (35.54 percent).

For the North Manchester Town Council District 3 race (Chester 4), Republican Tom Dale received 330 votes (68.75 percent) to independent Michael J. Larson’s 150 votes (31.25 percent).

Most of the rest of the offices were uncontested Republican candidates.

“As I was a kid growing up in Wabash, the Democrat(ic) Party pretty much dominated. And even in national elections throughout the years, you’ll see the pendulum swing from one party to the other. Maybe it’s swinging in a Republican favor right now,” said Long.

Republican dominance in state, county

The Indiana Republican Party achieved a new record in this year’s municipal elections, ending the 2019 cycle with 70 Republican mayors throughout Indiana, according to Jake Oakman, director of strategic communications.

“This involved flipping 19 mayoral offices, including those in traditional Democrat strongholds Kokomo, Muncie, Logansport and Michigan City,” stated Oakman.

Republicans now hold 23 more mayoral offices than Democrats, another record.

“Not content to compete in just one region, the Indiana Republican Party invested time, talent and significant resources in races throughout the state. This coordination and teamwork led to an unprecedented flip,” stated Oakman.

In Kokomo, where Republicans had not won the mayor’s race in over a decade, Republican Tyler Moore was victorious. In Muncie, Republican Dan Ridenour brought the mayor’s office back in the Republican column. Voters elected Republican Duane Parry as mayor of Michigan City. Republican Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke secured a third term.

The trend carried throughout the state. Terre Haute, Lawrence, Jeffersonville, Logansport, Winchester, Bluffton, Hartford City and Greensburg all elected Republican mayors.

“What role do national politics play in somebody deciding to run for a local office? It’s like the Grand Canyon between local issues and national issues, but maybe some of that national rhetoric plays a role in people running for office. I’m not sure,” said Long.

Long said the day after the election all the party differences disappeared.

“I served for four years with other mayors, and there’s a lot of them I couldn’t tell you if they were Democrat or Republican because we all just worked together and we worked to make our communities and this region a better region to live, work and play. None of us talk Democrat or Republican when we’re at meetings and stuff. I think the only time it comes into play is before an election and during the election.

“Nobody talks about it. We’ll talk about it again in four years because that’s when the next election is, but between now and then, we won’t talk about it amongst ourselves,” said Long.