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Walden a winner again in Ward 3

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Kathy Walden and her husband, Jerry, are all smiles at Democrat headquarters followingJerry’sre-election in the Ward 3 Council race.
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Jeremiah Morrell (l) joins Libertarian chair Dakota Davis, Tanner Perdue, Council Candidate Chris Guffey, Council Candidate Lisa Joe Catron and Paige Stayton (all standing) in peering over shoulders to see the latest election social media buzz during Tuesday’s general election. All eyes are on the phone in the hands of Audrey Davis, including Sara Morrell, seated next to her.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Jerry Walden says there’s more work to be done. Tuesday, voters in Ward 3 gave him the opportunity to do it.

The retired New Castle educator won a second term as City Councilman, turning back a vigorous challenge from Libertarian Chris Guffey by a 93-66 margin on a night when voters were few, but goals were many.

“I just feel like there’s still some issues on the table that I’d like to see finished,” the popular Democrat incumbent said. “I mentioned in the past we had the three big projects in my first term with the plaza, Broad Street and water separation. The next one is going to be State Road 3. I really want to see sidewalks put along State Road 3. I guess the state is actually considering them from Trojan Lane to Broad Street on both sides. I’d love to see that through.”

For Walden, the image of seeing a family pushing a stroller with two small kids walking in streets where there are no sidewalks motivates him to keep serving.

“Just seeing parents having to pick up kids and carry them over a snow drift on their way to school motivates me,” Walden said. “We can always do more to improve our city.”

At Libertarian headquarters, meanwhile, Guffey, a military veteran, was being congratulated for putting up a good fight in his first run for political office.

“This guy was prepared to serve,” recent Libertarian County Council candidate Jeremiah Morrell said of Guffey. “He went to every City Council meeting, he’s joined numerous boards and been an active part of the community for the last six months. If they had elected him, he was ready to go.”

“We put the work in,” Guffey said. “We did the best we could. I wish the voter turnout would have been a little bit higher. Jerry does have the name recognition. He’s been around for 30 years. We’ve just got to keep putting the work in and try, try again.”

“We are incredibly excited because Chris is relatively new to Henry County politics,” Libertarian Party Chair Dakota Davis said. “He did an incredible job of getting out, hitting the doors and being very active on social media and at meetings. For a first-time candidate to get 41 percent of the vote is absolutely incredible, no matter what party they are running in.”Straight ticket problems?

While expressing admiration for Walden, Guffey and his fellow Libertarians also wondered what could have been and felt what they perceived as a flaw in the process probably hurt their party for the second straight election.

A detailed look at the numbers Tuesday shows 37 percent of the 815 ballots cast were straight party tickets – 104 Republican, 168 Democrat and 30 Libertarian. Morrell said, just like in the last county election, there were reports of people having difficulty splitting their tickets.

“There was one voter who came out from the art center very upset because she was having trouble splitting her ticket,” Morrell said. “The first screen you got today was ‘pick a party’ and if you didn’t want to pick a party, you got an error message. Then you finally got to the last page, which was to pick a candidate.

“It was a very simple ballot today,” Morrell said. “It should have been a single ballot where you picked a candidate and moved on. It’s still confusing.”

Could it have made a difference in this race?

“If he (Chris Guffey) had flipped 15 votes against the incumbent, he would have won the race today. Fifteen votes. That’s close,” Morrell said.