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Historic night for Republicans

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Gritton unseats Conway to give GOP first fiscal court majority; Goodlett elected mayor

By Ben Carlson

New staff

The Anderson County Fiscal Court will have a Republican majority for the first time in the county’s history come January despite Democrats holding nearly a 2-to-1 margin in voter registration.

In what will go down in history as the greatest Republican wave to ever hit the county, the GOP also held onto the county clerk’s seat and apparently elected a Republican to represent it in the state House of Representatives.

Just down Main Street, the Lawrenceburg City Council largely held serve, as councilman Sandy Goodlett blew past challengers James Ritchey and Tracy Hicks to be elected Lawrenceburg’s next mayor. All other incumbent council members were re-elected, with newcomer Wendy Bruce Shouse added to the mix.

Republican Orbrey Gritton soundly defeated incumbent Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway on Tuesday night, marking just the second time in the county’s history that a Republican will hold that office.

Fellow Republicans and political newcomers Mike Riley and Meredith Hyatt Lewis will join Gritton as magistrates on the fiscal court after defeating incumbent Democrat magistrates Buddy Sims and Forrest Dale Stevens. When combined with incumbent Republican Magistrate Juretta Wells who ran unopposed, the party in January will control four of the seven seats on the fiscal court.

Incumbent Republican County Clerk Jason Denny trounced Democrat challenger Laura Link Gillis by a wide margin following a race in which Gillis harshly criticized Denny, along with his staff.

The Republican wave was also felt at the national level, where Anderson County voters helped propel U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell past Democrat challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by a 58 to 35 percent local margin.

For Congress, Anderson County voters helped Republican Andy Barr retain his seat by defeating Democrat Elisabeth Jensen by a nearly 70-30 margin.

For judicial seats, Lawrenceburg attorney Marie Hellard easily outpaced incumbent Family Court Judge John David Myles, winning 75 percent of the votes cast in Anderson County, and incumbent District Court Judge Donna Dutton apparently retained her seat by defeating Emily Farrar-Crockett.

Judge-Executive

Gritton, a political newcomer, won nearly every precinct in defeating Conway by nearly 1,500 votes.

Moments after the final results were announced, Gritton said he wasn’t sure what the outcome would be heading into election night.

“I knew with Mr. Conway as the incumbent, we were playing from behind from the beginning,” said Gritton, surrounded by family and supporters who were ready for a celebratory dinner. “Not having done this before, I didn’t know what to expect.”

He said his victory shows that people did not vote along party lines.

“A lot of people were voting for people, not parties,” he said.

Gritton congratulated Conway on running a good campaign and said he’s looking forward to his new job.

“I’m going to do everything I can to keep moving Anderson County forward,” he said.

“The people of Anderson County have spoken,” Conway said. “I wish them all the best of luck.”

Fiscal court

The only Democrat to win a challenged seat was Rodney Durr, who defeated Republican Bill Patterson 652-381 for 1st District magistrate and will replace Democrat David Ruggles, who did not seek re-election.

In the 2nd District, Riley defeated Stevens, the incumbent, by 970-557 votes.

In the 4th District, Lewis defeated Sims 896-503.

County clerk

Denny, whose office came under fire from Gillis when she compared customer service in the clerk’s office to having a root canal, delivered a resounding victory over the Democrat challenger, defeating her 5,829-2,966.

Denny said afterward that he was “humbled” by the result.

“I’m honored,” said Denny. “I’m appreciative of the support I received during this campaign and will continue to improve the clerk’s office,” he said.

Asked if he was surprised by his margin of victory, he said yes.

“I’m very surprised because I don’t ever take anything for grated,” he said. “I never dreamed it would be this kind of night … it was a hard race.”

Mayor

Goodlett, a four-term councilman, will replace current Mayor Edwinna Baker, who did not seek re-election.

Goodlett received 1,374 votes to secure the position, defeating James Ritchey (1,220) and Tracy Hicks (640).

Afterward, Goodlett said he is happy to have his fellow council members return to office with him as mayor.

“It makes it even better with the return of the existing city council with the addition of Wendy Bruce Shouse,” he said, adding that he’s glad the election, which turned contentious at times, was over.

“I’m extremely relieved to have it behind me,” said Goodlett. “I worked diligently, and it paid off. I walked many miles and hung many door hangers.”

City council

Shouse was the top vote getting Tuesday night and was the only candidate in the race to top 2,000 votes.

Re-elected were incumbents Ken Evans (1,594), Bobby Durr (1,834) Steven Rucker (1,586), Paul Thomas Vaughn (1,639), and George Geoghegan III (1,457).

Not placing among the top six were Joe Marshall (1,269), David Allen Kays (1,087) and Dan Stumph (1,185).

State representative

Spencer County Republican James Tipton defeated Anderson County Democrat Kent Stevens by 14 votes here, but results were not yet available at press time in Spencer County.

About two hours after the polls closed, Tipton said by phone that based on results he was receiving from precincts in Spencer County, he was winning about 2-to-1 there and received about 68 percent of the vote in Bullitt County, which includes two precincts in the 53rd House District.

Tipton said he wasn’t ready to declare himself the winner Tuesday night, but was feeling good about his chances.

“It looks promising,” he said, adding that the Republican victories in Anderson County didn’t surprise him very much.

“In talking to people, I realized that Anderson County is a very conservative county,” said Tipton.

Comment at theandersonnews.com.