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Ridgeway humble, gracious in defeat

By JEFF BROWN - jbrown@shelbynews.com

Brad Ridgeway was completely at ease Wednesday morning.

Despite not getting elected as the next mayor of Shelbyville, Ridgeway was more concerned with being gracious in defeat and strong for his family, who was more upset with the loss Tuesday to Tom DeBaun.

“What a great race. What a great race on both sides,” said Ridgeway. “I called Tom last night. He was very gracious to me. I want to give a big thank you to my family ... and what about those supporters. They just really supported me and my family. I want to thank them.”

A total of 2,853 voters determined the mayor’s race – or just over 22 percent of the voting population. That statistic is alarming but not unusual in a year where there are no congressional races or a presidential race to be decided. 

“What I really want to tell the people now, I want the elected officials ... and it falls on all of us, 22 percent voted,” said Ridgeway. “Seventy-eight percent of registered voters did not vote. That’s disconcerting. And I think it is to the mayor also. That’s what we should all be concerned about in the future – to get more people involved in our political process.”

There was no mayoral race in 2015. The Republicans did not have a challenger to face DeBaun. 

In 2011, DeBaun defeated Jeff Sponsel in a race that counted 3,604 voters – 751 more than voted Tuesday.

DeBaun was victorious over Ridgeway in all three types of voting. He had more walk-in absentee votes (295-250), more paper absentee votes (59-37), and more election day votes (1,172-1,039).

“That’s our process and just to be a part of the process ... isn’t this better than an uncontested race?” said Ridgeway.

In hindsight, Ridgeway was asked if there was anything he would do differently?

“No. Not really,” he responded. “There were so many variables in this campaign, I don’t know what it would be. Would it be trying to connect with the people? We did everything through my town halls trying to connect.

“It would be nice at some point to ask the people that voted, no matter how they voted, what made a difference to them? That’s why exit polls are interesting at the national level. What are people looking for? That helps guys going forward on both sides. (Locally), was it spending? Was it the downtown? Was it growth? Was it jobs? You can’t make an educated judgment on what I could do different. I thought we hit spending ... we hit it hard. The downtown was a hot topic. Here again, we all should be concerned about the people that didn’t vote.”

Ridgeway and his wife, Carrie, who was not elected to a Shelbyville Common Council At-Large seat Tuesday, are boarding a plane this morning for Florida and an opportunity to relax. After that, the couple return to their business, Nuesound Hearing, and enjoy the upcoming holidays with friends and family.

“I’ve told everybody that I have another calling,” said Ridgeway. “God is in control. God will put me where he wants me and I look forward to the other calling. 

“The election is over. The holidays are coming up. I would like to see everybody love each other and enjoy our holidays. I think that is important. Let’s get together as a community and enjoy these times.”

Any thoughts of running another campaign are on the back burner.

“If God calls me to do it ... yes. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” said Ridgeway. “I don’t have any ambitions now. I’m not a politician. We don’t know what life is going to bring. I cried this morning because my family thought I was going to be so upset but I want to be an example for them in defeat ... to be gracious. It’s not the end of the world. I have a great life. I have a nice house. There are so many people out there that are hurting. It was a very important election that had consequences but it’s not the end of the world.”