Ballance, Lindblad unseated in council elections

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It appears that the Eureka Springs City Council will soon have some fresh faces following late-night vote counting in the city elections.

According to the unofficial results of tallying early Wednesday morning, Mickey Schneider received the most votes in the three-way race for the Ward 1, Position 1 seat with 39.53 percent of votes, or a total of 389 votes, beating contender Jack Gentry, who had 31.10 percent of the vote, or a total of 306, and incumbent Karen Lindblad, who received 29.37 percent of the vote, or 289 votes. However, since nobody won 50 percent of the vote, Schneider will face Gentry in a run-off election.

"I just wanted to thank everyone who voted for me in this election and to let everyone know it has been an honor to serve the people of Eureka Springs," said Lindblad.

Michelle (Mickey) Schneider served on the council previously and has served on the Planning Commission and is past president of the local Democratic Women's Club.

Gentry is a lifelong Carroll County resident with 30 years of law enforcement experience.

James DeVito held onto his seat for Ward 2, Position 1, receiving 66.27 percent of the vote, or 662 votes, as against contender Gregory Moon's 33.73 percent, or 337 votes.

DeVito has served three terms as an alderman and a member of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission. He has also run for mayor.

"I'd like to thank the people who participated in the democratic process in choosing their representatives," DeVito said.

In the race for Ward 2, Seat 2, Dee Purkeypile beat out incumbent Parker Raphael with 58.30 percent of the vote, or 534 votes, as opposed to Raphael's to 41.7 percent, or 382 votes.

Purkeypile worked with the State of Texas Dam Safety program for 15 years, with the last five years as the senior engineer in hydraulic and hydrology. He worked with many small cities across Texas to address engineering issues before moving to Eureka Springs.

"I'm just looking forward to addressing some of the issues involving the infrastructure in the city," Purkeypile said.

Joyce Zeller easily bested opponent incumbent Lany Ballance with 70.33 percent of the vote, or 692 votes, compared to Ballance's 29.67 percent, or 292 votes. Like Lindblad, Ballance was chosen to fill a seat left vacant by an earlier resignation.

Zeller, a long-time Eureka resident and long active in local politics, helped revive the early Downtown Merchants Association, served previously on the Dickens Christmas committees and worked with the Blues Festival. She also served on city council previously and ran for mayor in 2010.

"I'm just really gratified with the way things turned out," Zeller told the Citizen. "I had so much support this time around. It seems a lot of people out there are willing to trust me, and I'm thankful. It was a good experience. Now we'll have to see what happens next. We as a city have a lot of problems ahead of us, but I'm very glad to be able to work toward fixing them."

County races

In Carroll County, County Judge Sam Barr handily bested opponent Andrew Wilhelm with 59.46 percent of the vote, or 5,957 votes, as versus 40.54 percent, or 4,062 votes.

Circuit Clerk Ramona Wilson won a healthy victory with 61.27 percent of the vote, or 6,103 votes; opponent Betty Neal received 38.73 percent, or 3,858 votes.

The race for Carroll County Water District Director went to incumbent Gene Chafin, who came in with 60.36 percent of the vote, or 5,257 votes, versus opponent Lisa Price-Backs, who received 39.64 percent of the vote, or 3,452 votes.

Chafin is 70 years old and has resided in Berryville all his life. He graduated from Berryville High School and has a Bachelor of Science degree in business from the University of Central Arkansas.

Carroll County's once and future sheriff is incumbent Bob Grudek, who received 64.23 percent of the vote, or 6,419 votes; his opponent, Jason Hunt, received 36.77 percent of the vote, or 3,575 votes.

Grudek has 35 years of law enforcement experience and first became Carroll County's sheriff in 2007. He oversees 911 dispatch operations, the jail and the sheriff's office, a total of 64 employees and a $3.4 million annual budget.

In the race for county coroner, Jim Capps bested opponent Tom Freehling with 58.87 percent, or 6,628 votes, versus 41.13 percent, or 3,932 votes for Frehling.

Leatherwood initiative passes with wide margin

The Eureka Springs ordinance permitting a sales tax to fund the Lake Leatherwood Park master plan passed by a healthy margin, 59.2 percent, or 611 votes, for, versus 40.9 percent, or 422 votes against. The sales tax is one-eighth of one percent or 12.5 cents on $100 and has a four-year sunset clause.

"We're thrilled in the confidence our residents have in our Parks & Rec with their tax dollars," said Parks & Rec Director Bruce Levine. "We will take every step to keep the public informed at every step in this thing and stretch the money we receive as far as we can."

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