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Republicans dominate election races

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Scott Asher, left, celebrates after the voting results were announced Tuesday at the Republican headquarters confirming that he was elected clerk-treasurer for the City of Shelbyville. Ryan Claxton, Major Health Partners vice president of business development and strategy, and his daughter, Sophie, age 8, celebrate withAsher.
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Tyson Conrady, right, the Republican candidate for Shelbyville Common Council Fifth Ward anxiously awaits the results Tuesday at the Republican headquarters. Nathan Willis, rear, already learned he wouldretain his Second Ward seat and relaxes with his wife, Abigail, and four-month-old son, Finn.

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

Scott Asher clearly knew what it meant when the final election results were read aloud Tuesday night at the Republican headquarters in downtown Shelbyville.

Asher garnered 51.88 percent percent of the votes to defeat incumbent Frank Zerr to become the City of Shelbyville’s new clerk-treasurer. Zerr, a former mayor and five-term clerk-treasurer. is very popular in both parties.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Asher. “You surround yourself with good people and good things happen. We had a nice team assembled. I have a great family and great friends behind me.”

Still, he knew it was a daunting task to unseat Zerr.

“He is a tremendous man,” said Asher. “He has been a big part of this community forever and he should be thanked for his service and I am sorry that I am that guy that picked him off but I really wanted to do this and it’s my turn.”

Asher totaled 1,475 votes to Zerr’s 1,368. Zerr had more walk-in absentee votes but Asher was dominant at Tuesday’s polls, collecting 1,217 votes to 979 for Zerr.

Asher’s win was part of trend Tuesday that saw Republicans win four Shelbyville Common Council seats and the clerk-treasurer’s role. The only Republican loss on the day was in the mayor’s race where two-term incumbent Tom DeBaun defeated Republican challenger Brad Ridgeway.

The Republicans were assured of keeping the Third Ward and Fourth Ward seats with Mike Johnson and former mayor Scott Furgeson running unopposed, respectively.

Nathan Willis earned a full four-year term as the Second Ward representative defeating Democrat challenger Angela Matney, 274-158, in the most convincing win of the election.

“I did not expect those numbers at all,” said Willis, who reiterated the pact made with Matney that no matter the winner, the other would stay involved in Second Ward activities. “I plan on reaching out and seeing what are the things she really wanted to see improve on her part and get together with her and see what we can do together.”

Willis was appointed to the council in January after David Carmony moved out of Shelbyville. He has spent his first nine months in office learning policy and procedures and engaging his constituents.

“It’s been great being on the council for the past nine months,” he said. “I am out of the new-and-learning stage and I get this next four years to hit the ground running.”

In the Fifth Ward, Republican newcomer Tyson Conrady edged Democratic incumbent Jeff Wright by 30 votes (234-204).

“I don’t think I did anything special,” said Conrady after the results were announced. “I just did what everybody else does. It’s a matter of advertising and putting your name out there and doing what the other candidates do ... going door to door.”

“Jeff and I had a great conversation today. We were chair-to-chair and we agreed that the voters would make the decision for this race and they spoke – a 30-point margin. That was close. I thought I was going to lose by 30 votes. I’m at a loss right now. Like my mom told me, it’s time to put my big boy pants on and start making Shelbyville a better place.”

Both at-large seats on the council went to veteran Republicans. Brian Asher retained his at-large seat with 1,847 votes. Rob Nolley, who will no longer represent the Third Ward, secured the second at-large seat with 1,775 votes. Democrat Carrie Ridgeway finished third with 1,025 votes.

Six of the seven seats on the council are now held by Republicans. The lone Democrat is First Ward representative Joanne Bowen, who was unopposed in the election.

“I don’t know how to interpret the results,” said Nolley, who is the chairman of the local Republican party. “We swept the council, we took the clerk-treasurer and Tom (DeBaun) won. I think that means to me that the people like the direction that we’re heading ... the downtown development. The Republicans and Democrats that were on (the council), for the most part, are part of where we are going downtown. The message to me is keep doing what you’re doing.”

According to the Election Summary Report, 2,924 out of 12,724 registered voters took part in the process. A total of 2,853 decided the mayor’s race; 2,843 the clerk-treasurer’s race. 

“If you are a Republican you are a Republican and you tend to vote Republican,” said Nolley. “If a Republican is not voting for a Republican it’s because of a very specific issue.”

“In this case, we saw scratching going on. We sweep, for the most part, the council races but lost the mayor’s race. That tells you people scratched for a specific issue. That tells me they scratched for doing downtown right now. In the end, we are not making decisions on traditional Republican ideals or traditional Democrat ideals. We are making decisions in the best interest of this city. And the results tell me they like the decisions we’re making.”