Carbondale voters stick with incumbents
Carbondale voters decided to stay the course Tuesday, keeping the mayor and board of trustees in place following a contentious election campaign centered on the future of big-box developments in town.Mayor Michael Hassig won a resounding re-election bid, defeating town Trustee Russ Criswell, 697-235.Incumbent trustees Stacey Patch Bernot, John Foulkrod and Scott Chaplin all held onto their seats, with vote tallies of 682, 610 and 498, respectively. But challenger Barry Maggert, who had targeted Chaplin during the campaign in part over Chaplin’s support of a hard cap on the size of new stores in town, came close to edging out Chaplin for the third open trustee seat, tallying 473 votes.
“It makes you think you should have called on a few more people or pounded a few more doors,” a disappointed Maggert said at the Pour House, where most of the candidates gathered Tuesday to hear the election results. Still, Maggert was pleased at his strong showing against Chaplin. “I think it means my message carries at least as much weight as his message,” said Maggert, who along with Foulkrod and Bernot, favors more flexible caps on the size of big-box stores that might come to town.Chaplin said he was hoping the election would prove more definitive in terms of how voters feel on the big-box issue.”It didn’t happen that way,” he said.
Criswell also had been a supporter of firm caps on big-box sizes and challenged Hassig on that issue. But Chaplin thought the mayoral race probably had to do more with the personalities and styles of the candidates.”A lot of people, even though they agree with Russ, didn’t necessarily want him to be mayor,” Chaplin said.Criswell was not available for comment when election results were announced late Tuesday night.Hassig said he continues to respect Criswell’s point of view and considers him an ally on the town board, where Criswell will remain because he is in the middle of his term as a trustee.”I respect his passion for what he does, and I expect we’ll be able to work together,” Hassig said.Hassig said he thinks public sentiment swung to the center in the election, which he believes reflects Carbondale as a community.”It’s a pretty diverse community, but it’s always been about balance,” he said.
He said he refused to see the election as a referendum on the big-box issue and doesn’t think anyone on the town board is an unconditional supporter of big boxes. Rather, the question will be what kind of large project would be a good fit for Carbondale in terms of size, design, environmental compatibility and the like, he said.Bernot said receiving the highest vote count Tuesday “shows tremendous support from the community. It’s very reassuring.”But she thinks the election campaign has been hard on the town board.”This board, I think, is damaged, and I think it’s going to take a while to get through that,” she said.She was upset over talk about seeking to change the balance of power on the board through some sort of voter mandate regarding its makeup. Even as the top vote-getter, she said, she doesn’t believe she can claim a mandate.”Do any of us have mandates? I don’t think so,” she said.
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