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Council ponders election results
Nov 04, 2005 12:00 am
November 3, 2005
A pair of newly elected Lebanon city councilors credited voters' desire for stronger representation as well as a need for improved infrastructure with tipping the scales against incumbents during last Thursday's municipal election.
All three sitting city councilors – representatives of Lebanon's first, second and fifth wards – were defeated last week in what Lebanon Mayor Don Fox described Monday as "the biggest turnover that we've probably ever had."
In the city's first ward, where Lebanon Parks and Recreation Director Alex Buhler defeated incumbent Councilor Carl Wood by nearly 80 votes, Buhler said a number of residents he encountered along the campaign trail felt they lacked "equal representation" in city government.
Buhler noted many Ward 1 voters expressed concern about infrastructure improvements and new business development taking place with greater frequency in other areas of the city.
"It was a combination of infrastructure and development out in this area – of course, you need infrastructure to be able to (support development)," Buhler said, adding Ward 1 voters expressed a desire for more sidewalks in the area.
New road projects were also on the minds of many Ward 1 voters, he concluded.
"Coles Ferry Pike – people felt like it ought to be widened and, of course, (Highway) 231 North out here, it's a nightmare," Buhler said. "That was a big thing, too."
Like Buhler, Ward 5 Councilor-elect Haywood Barry said voters in his ward felt more could be done to improve the area's infrastructure, specifically in terms of the city's sewer system. A number of Ward 5 residents have experienced problems with sewer overflows in recent years, he said.
Barry edged out incumbent Ward 5 Councilor Jim Mills by just under 30 votes in last week's election.
And although Buhler did not cite the Council's failed attempt to realign city elections through extending terms as a factor in the election's outcome, Barry said it was a concern he heard on a handful of occasions during his campaign.
"Some people were concerned about councilors making that attempt to extend their terms, but there wasn't a lot of people who seemed to care one way or the other," Barry said. "And, there were some zoning things that came up (in Ward 5) … where some of the voters didn't feel they were properly represented."
Attempts to reach Ward 2 Councilor-elect Kevin Huddleston were unsuccessful at press time Tuesday. Huddleston, a political newcomer, defeated incumbent Ward 2 Councilor Annette Stafford by a vote of 402 to 301.
Even before their election Thursday, Fox said he knew Buhler and Barry "exceptionally well" and felt they "had the best interests of the city at heart."
Fox added he had met with Huddleston and felt the newly elected Ward 2 representative would meet with success as a Lebanon city councilor.
The new Council is scheduled to be installed at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Lebanon City Hall.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.