Council candidates shift focus to primary election

By Gus Bode

With the primary election behind them, the six remaining candidates in the city council race are preparing for a final battle they say will be determined by how many hands they shake and homes they visit.

And while incumbents Corene McDaniel and Chris Wissmann dominated the primary election Tuesday night garnering nearly half of the vote between them, the other four candidates remain optimistic.

“Obviously I am glad,” said Rhett Barke, who won 9 percent of the vote. “But it seems like I am going to have five more long weeks ahead of me. We were expecting the incumbents to be on top, but anybody under them understand they are on the bubble and it is about getting that name recognition they already have.”

Advertisement

Barke, whose primary campaign efforts include going door-to-door and posting yard signs, said he also hopes to get the public more involved in the election by possibly organizing debates or forums with the other candidates.

No official plans have been set, but Angie Kaye, who won 7 percent of the vote, said some sort of public forum is a good idea, particularly when you examine past public appearances.

“I think the group things we do as candidates are a fair, fun way to promote our campaigns,” Kaye said. “No one is out a whole lot of money, and there is strength in numbers. It is about letting people get to know us, and I am all for it.”

Before the primary, candidates gathered at two public meet and greets, which they all said helped them connect with voters. And while turn-out was relatively low for the first meeting at the Civic Center on Feb. 15, Donald Barrett, who got 13 percent of the vote during the primary, said that was all the more reason to hold similar get togethers.

“People’s lives are busy, and I understand that,” Barrett said. “That’s why it’s important for us to get to them.

“I am honored that people came out for me and trusted me with their votes, but it’s still a matter of doing what I have been doing, passing out flyers and getting my position out.”

For Joel Fritzler, who garnered the third most votes, getting through the primary election is a familiar feeling. In 2003, Fritzler and Wissmann were both running for a two-year term on the council.

Advertisement

Wissmann defeated Fritzler then, but Fritzler is confident that his name has more recognition this time around.

“I have gained a little more name recognition over the past two years,” Fritzler said. “The main focus now is to campaign that much harder. All I can really do now is find out what voters’ concerns are.”

Compared to the election he won in 2003, Wissmann said this year’s election is completely different simply because of the large number of candidates.

“Two years ago it was a me or him kind of issue,” Wissmann said. “And it was only for a two year term. Now we are up for a four-year term and everybody has three votes. So, while I don’t have to be the top choice, I have to at least be in the top three.”

McDaniel, who was elected to the council in 2001, said this year’s primary was low-key compared to years past because there are no controversial issues being discussed this year. But, that doesn’t mean McDaniel won’t campaign just as hard as years past.

“I feel really good,” McDaniel said. “But I know there is a lot of hard work ahead. It’s going to be a busy time for me coming up.”

The city council general election will be held on April 5. Voters can choose up to three candidates. The three who receive the most votes will serve four-year terms.

Reporter Monique Garcia can be reached at [email protected]

Advertisement