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Although we still have a general election coming June 2, the results of the Democratic primary and runoff elections likely have set the course for New Albany for the next four years.
Mayor Tim Kent has won the primary after defeating Betsey Hamilton in a close runoff election. Kent got 51.7 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for Hamilton. Two of five incumbent aldermen went down to defeat and another election was so close it was decided by the affadavit votes.
What do we want to say about these elections?
First, we congratulate Mr. Kent and his supporters on his win. And we congratulate Ms. Hamilton and her followers on a vigorous campaign. We offer the same thoughts about the winners and their opponents in the alderman races.
But what conclusions can we draw from looking at the results?
First, for a woman seeking her first public office to get almost half the vote against an incumbent mayor says the city is pretty much divided between those who think the mayor has done a good job and those who wanted to see a change.
Second, there clearly was no election mandate. The margin of victory was small in the mayor’s race and razor-thin in the Ward 3 alderman race. Two incumbents were turned out of office.
As we see it, if Mr. Kent wins in June, it will be up to him to re-examine his first term and set a course for the second that reaches out to all city residents. We’re confident he can do that and we’re hopeful the community can respond with less apathy and more participation.
A united New Albany can have a bright, progressive future. That progress will be much slower and harder if the city administration is seen as representing little more than half the voters.