Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 7, 2012

DECISION 2012: County Council at large seats go to Republicans


— GOSHEN — It was good news all around for local incumbents in Elkhart County Tuesday evening, with all four incumbents seeking re-election in the County Council and County Commissioner races successfully securing their seats for another four years.

Three County Council at-large seats were being sought by five candidates Tuesday, two of which went soundly to incumbents David Ashe, R-Elkhart, and John Letherman, R-Elkhart. Ashe was able to take about 23 percent of the total vote, while Letherman eked out the top showing of the night with just over 24 percent of the vote.

Securing the third seat, soon to be vacated by retiring three-term councilman Dennis Sharkey, was political veteran and current Goshen City Council President Tom Stump, R-Goshen, who turned out an impressive 24 percent showing, coming in just beneath Letherman to secure the second highest vote count of the race.

“I’m happy it’s over,” Stump said of the run, noting that for the most part his general election run proved fairly uneventful compared to past races he has run. “After the primary, it went very smoothly. The real race was in the primary, and that turned out well for me. So actually I didn’t do a lot in the general election.”

With Stump’s County Council seat now secured, the current Goshen City Council president said his next move will be to resign his position on the City Council in order to allow a new council member to be appointed.

“I’ll have to resign my position from the City council, and then they’ll have a caucus with the precinct committeemen and they’ll elect someone to take my place,” Stump said. “They have to do that before the end of the year.”

All together, Stump has served nearly 21 years on the Goshen City Council. Reflecting back on that time, Stump said there are definitely some mixed feelings about stepping down, but he feels his move to the County Council is the right thing to do at this time.

“I definitely have mixed feelings, and I’m cherishing every meeting I have left, and there are only three more meetings left this year,” Stump said. “I’m really looking forward to moving over to the county, though. There are a lot of challenges in the county right now, primarily with traffic. There’s a challenge of providing services with the limited amount of money the county has. But that may get better in the future.”

Moving beyond his own election, Stump said he’s happy to see incumbents Letherman and Ashe retain their seats on the council, noting he looks forward to working with both candidates and the other four members of the County Council beginning this January.

“It will be a little different than the Goshen City Council because everyone on the County Council is a Republican, whereas with the City Council we have a mix,” Stump said. “But there are still some arguments that are going to need to be made I’m sure, even among Republicans. But I think that’s good for the county and the tax payers, so I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Unsuccessful in their bids for a County Council seat Tuesday were Mike Settles, D-Elkhart, who ended up taking a total of 15 percent of the vote, and Ralph Spelbring, D-Elkhart, who took 12 percent of the total vote.

As for the commissioner races, District 2 incumbent Mike Yoder, R-Middlebury, and District 3 incumbent Terry Rodino, R-Elkhart, were both unopposed in their respective races.