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Nurse dominates District 3 race

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

A text alert beeped from Peg Stefandel’s phone at 2 a.m. Wednesday. She had gone to sleep as a candidate. She woke up as a Henry County Council member.

“I just happened to have the phone laying there,” she said.

Stefandel, a Republican who swept into the general election largely due to her anti-wind stance, literally and figuratively blew her competitors away Tuesday night in the three-way battle for the District 3 Council seat. She easily won a three-way race for the seat formerly held by Steve Dugger, whom she defeated in the primary, receiving more than 70 percent of the vote, finishing with 3,373. Dakota Clark, a 19-year-old Democrat candidate, was a distant second with 1,115 votes, with Libertarian Jesse Riddle finishing third with 272 votes.

For Stefandel, running for office was both a leap of faith and a departure from her comfort zone.

“It’s a totally new experience,” she said. “I’m just glad the citizens had enough faith and trust in me. Now, I want to return that to them.”

In fact, the support for Stefandel was the biggest of three county council races. She will be one of four new Republican County Council members come January. She will be joined by Kenon Gray in District 1; Chad Malicoat – who upset long-time incumbent Robin Reno Fleming in District 2; and Susan Huhn, who was unopposed in District 4.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said Clark. “Being a first-time candidate, the campaigning was really difficult for me. When I decide to run for office in the future I will be better prepared.”

Clark said his reason for running was simple.

“I didn’t like what was going on,” he said. “So I felt that, instead of complaining, I should do something about it. I thought running for office would be appropriate.”

Riddle said he has left the possibility open to run for public office in the future. 

While the wind issue didn’t seem to blow as hard in the general election campaign, Stefandel said she still believed it was a factor in her convincing win.

“I think it was huge in this election, too,” she said. “It’s not the only issue, but if wind turbines move forward in this county, everything else will stop. I know some people don’t believe that, but it will bring a complete stop to the progress in this county.”

“The 120-130 wind turbine lease signers here is a drop in the bucket to the 49,000 other people who live here,” she added.